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In Praise of the Fish Sandwich

I love fish sandwiches, but having spent the vast majority of my life far from the ocean, I'm sure I've never sampled the best that's out there.

Speaking of which, what is the best fish sandwich you've sampled? How was it prepared?

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  1. Wooley's Fish Market in the Strip in Pittsburgh. Had to wait for it to be cooked. Long lines during lunch.

    From 10 years ago. Hope it is still there.

    1 Reply

      It's still there, and going strong. Pittsburgh is a fish sandwich town.

    2. Filet-O-Fish?

      Ok, that's not fair since that' easily No. 1.

      Second Best? Probably a breaded deep-fried cod sandwich I had in Vancouver a while back.

      1. Fried grouper sandwich at BO's Fish Wagon in Key West. Love that place!

        1 Reply
        1. re: carolinadawg

          I hade a grouper sandwich from BO's back in the 80's. Remember his slogan, "If it smells like fish, it ain't fresh. I didn't realize how good fresh fish could taste!

        2. Lobster roll from Neptune Oyster in Boston. I like the hot buttered version with a squeeze of lemon on it.

          7 Replies
                1. re: LeoLioness

                  That really deserves its own thread because there are great soft-shell crab sandwiches that I can think that would be worthy contenders.

                  1. re: ipsedixit

                    You're probably right. I'd put a good clam toll up against anything!

            1. Fresh salmon filet, grilled, served on toasted roll w/ red pepper aoili (and fresh-cut wedge fries) at (now closed) 93 Townsend, Boothbay Harbor, Maine

              Fresh salmon filet, grilled/blackened, served on toasted roll w/cilantro mayo (and sweet potato fries) at Montsweag Roadhouse, Woolwich, Maine.

              1. I'll vote for the Halibut Burger at Dundee's Bar & Grill in Seaside, Oregon, since I just had one last week and loved it:


                1 Reply
                1. re: GH1618

                  The fish sandwich is one "dish" in which cheese and fish work tremendously together, although I think the cheese should be an exiguous complement rather than a competitor with the fish.

                2. I have always been a fan of the simple fried fish sandwich (usually perch or catfish) with naught but a thin spread of mayo, hot sauce, lettuce, tomato, onions and maybe a pickle or two. For homemade sandwiches, I'm going to have to go with the tuna melt or spicy grilled fish pitas with lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, tahini and yogurt.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: JungMann

                    Your simple fried fish sandwich sounds a bit like a catfish po' boy.

                    1. re: Perilagu Khan

                      Almost, but on white bread it's drier and less chewy.

                  2. 1. A tuna melt with Swiss cheese on excellent Rye or Sourdough, perfectly pan-grilled, at home.
                    2. A Hot Fish Sandwich at Prince Louis' Hot Fish in Monroeville, LA., about 15 years ago. A huge crunchy filet of delicious clean-tasting Catfish on a toasted bun, with hot sauce, mayo, shredded lettuce and pickle. And OMG was it goooood.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: mamachef

                      add a little tomato to your #1 on rye and you have my favorite sandwich of all time...

                    2. The gold standard fish sandwich (at least the one I grew up eating) is made with fried* flounder or fluke. It is served on a hard roll with tartar sauce, lettuce, and tomato. The sandwich is best when the fish was caught by yourself earlier in the day and the tomato was similarly the result of your own labors. Personally, I have a weak spot for placing a slice of Swiss cheese directly on the fish so that it melts a bit.

                      *Flour, egg, breadcrumbs – not batter.

                      1. In Maine, the fried haddock sandwich is king of the fish sandwich. A 2" fillet of haddock breaded and deep fried, served hanging off the endst of the bread w/ lettuce, tomato, lemon and tartar sauce or ketchup. In the other seafood.
                        Growing up in Jersey, every fried was a fried flounder or soft shell crab (in the summer) on rye.
                        In SD. the fish taco rules.
                        And let me add the Maine lobster, fride clam, shrimp or scallop roll on a hot dog roll.
                        God, am I mising good fish here in NM!

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: Passadumkeg

                          Surely you can get aholt of some nice trout, Pass.

                          1. re: Perilagu Khan

                            Trout does not deserve to be eaten on a sandwhich. I make truite bleu.

                            ps drove through Lubbock last Sat., noon time.

                            1. re: Passadumkeg

                              Thought I felt a disturbance in The Force.

                              1. re: Passadumkeg

                                No good fish should be eaten on a sandwiih with lettuce and tomato masking the flavor. Down here on the Texas Gulf Coast, I catch speckled trout, redfisn, and flounder and would nver consider putting them on a sandwich. There is a place by the beach in Surfside that does a fish po boy with whatever is fresh, usually ling or red snapper. I get it plain and eat the fish separately, adding a couple of fried shrimp shrimp and oysters.

                                1. re: James Cristinian

                                  I like it and the haddock fillet is nearly 2" thick. Eat my shrimp w/ lemon and mayo.

                          2. Are we talking fish here or seafood.

                            Softshell crab po-boy at Streetcar Sandwiches, New Orleans. Never had their fish but I am sure it was excellent.

                            1. I have two favorites, both of them in Pittsburgh.

                              1) The Oyster House. They have several locations, but the one to go to is in the Market Square area of downtown. It's cod, coated with a seasoned breading, and deep fried. You get a good-sized filet on a very oversized bun. I don't know what it is about their sandwich, but it has a unique flavor I've never found duplicated. Good fresh cut fries, too.

                              2) Dorido's, South Hills. This is a bit of a dive restaurant, but is very clean. Get there early, as it is quite a wait. They, too, serve cod, breaded and deep fried. It is a huge sandwich (the "junior" size is more than enough for anyone), and really delicious. They have their frying methods nailed down, as the sandwich is never greasy.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: bagofwater

                                put some potato chips in there and smoosh a bit

                                1. re: bagofwater

                                  Another reason in the plus column to go to my 40th high school reunion next fall.

                                2. Most friday's my friends and I go to a restaurant-bar and have fried fish sandwiches and pitchers of beer before heading out for a night drinking and playing poker. Most of the food at this establishment is underwhelming, but the fish sandwich is absolute glory:

                                  It is a battered and deep-fried piece of cod placed on a sesame seed bun such that the fried fish protrudes about 4" from the bun on both ends. I always get mine with a couple pieces of melted American cheese. Usually, I cut the fish and stack it such that it fits in the bun, then I slather the bun with tartar sauce and douse the fish with hot sauce. I usually pour a decent amount of ketchup on my plate as well, to dip the sandwich in. I usually have fries with some malt vinegar or potato pancakes with sour cream on the side. And pitchers of beer. Many pitchers of beer. Usually Sam Adams or Yeungling.

                                  It's my friday tradition and one I will not easily part with.

                                  2 Replies
                                    1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                      The Fish Grill in LA (several locations), a kosher fish place with great grilled fish. They also make a great sandwich with either grilled or breaded and fried fish, tartar sauce, red onion, to ato and co,e saw mix. It's so good. Plus you get 2 sides, fries, baked potato, salad, rice or Cole saw or israeli salad. Yum!

                                  1. Of yore: Breaded and fried very fresh fillets (species unknown) on a burger bun with lettuce, tomato, onion, and tartar sauce, from a long gone drive-in overlooking the ocean, on Tamarack Avenue in Carlsbad, CA. in the early 70's. I still dream about that one.

                                    More recently: Grilled salmon w/tomato & tartar sauce on french roll at Hayes St. Grill stand, Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, San Francisco (I actually prefer their crabcake sandwich, but that seems to be out of the scope of this thread)

                                    1. Fried grouper, at any nondescript beach hut in Florida within view of the Gulf of Mexico. (for whatever reason, they're never as good on the East Coast....the Keys, okay)

                                      1. I remember a nostalgia scene in a novel where two women, remembering childhood fish-fries, agree that the item must be pronounced "fish sammich" and must be made with a slice of soft white bread bent around a chunk of hot fried fish. Sounds no-frills and authentic.

                                        1. Like ipse, I have a soft spot for the Filet of Fish...but living on the east coast, there's never been a shortage of fish availability in restaurants or shore town fish joints. Personally, I prefer bread crumbs or cracker meal for my fried fish. Like others have mentioned, flounder and cod are the most common, but I can recall an old diner in my area having Haddock on Fridays with two sides for around 5 bucks. At the Houston's Chain, they have a very enjoyable Grilled Grouper sandwich.

                                          A sleeper place to consider is the many owned Korean fish markets located in the inner cities. You can get any variety of fish they have available fried to order, but one of the staples on their menu board is the Fried Fresh Whiting Sandwich.....three fried filets on two pieces of Wonder Bread for 2-3 bucks.

                                          1. another filet o' fish fan here, and once in a while, when craving junk, I make them at home. good quality fishsticks, american cheese, lettuce, and homemade tartar sauce (mayo, lemon juice, finely chopped dill pickle and capers). YUM.

                                            All-time favorite, though, is the grouper sandwich from Frenchy's in Clearwater.

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: C70

                                              I confess to once in awhile buying fish sticks to make at home filet o fish sandwiches. They are delicious!

                                              1. re: C70

                                                what brand is considered to be 'good' fish sticks?

                                                1. re: subal

                                                  I live in Canada, so what I do is read labels, look for the one with the most actual fish, and least filler, salt & fat.

                                              2. Chargrilled amberjack at the Seafood festival in Destin, Florida

                                                1. the tuna burger @ Petite Crevette in Brookllyn...
                                                  here is a great pic of it

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. Fish Sandwich at Pearl's or Mary's Fish Camp both in NYC. Just right any time.

                                                    1. 1) Hamburguesa de pescado at La Tarraya, Playa del Carmen MX. Thin fish slices, fried milanesa style, on a bun w/ lettuce & mayo, habanero salsa on the side. Simple but delicious, about $1.70. I have probably eaten 200 of them over the years.

                                                      2) Grouper sandwich in Florida -fried, grilled, or blackened, with Cholula sauce.
                                                      3) Grouper reuben at Woody's River Roo in Ellenton and at Captain Brians in Sarasota.

                                                      1. I've been in coastal Florida long enough now that I can't come up with a single best ever or a dozen best ever fish sandwiches. But I'll throw some love to fresh from the docks grilled red snapper. It's a delicate fish that's easy to over or under cook, so a lot of people and places just want to go straight to frying it because it's less risky. But when grilled by someone who knows what they're doing and lightly dressed so the fish remains the star of the show, it's sublime.

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: beachmouse

                                                          Agreed. I had broiled red snapper a couple of times in St. Kitts and I don't know that I've ever tasted better fish. I've never encountered a red snapper sandwich though.

                                                          1. re: beachmouse

                                                            my only hesitation would be putting on a sandwich...it would be a shame to cover up any of the goodness that is a well-grilled piece of fresh snapper.

                                                          2. Herring w/ sour cream and onions on open-faced dark rye bread.
                                                            Lox and cream cheese on a real bagel.
                                                            Sardines and scrambled eggs w/ chives on toast.