Wisconsin’s Friday Night Fish Fry

 

One of the central pillars of life in northern Wisconsin is tradition, and more importantly, taking the time to celebrate it with your friends + family. We can’t think of anything that says tradition more than Wisconsin's Friday night fish fry. With summer crowds and fall tourism winding down, it's easier to wander into one of your favorite local jaunts for their version of this Wisconsin staple. Our advice - enjoy a cocktail at the bar before sitting down, sometimes the wait is how you meet new friends and learn the area's hidden secrets.

 

the tradition

According to the Wisconsin Historical Society, early German Catholic settlers in Wisconsin made use of the region's abundant supply of fish because they were prohibited from eating meat on Fridays. Over the decades, local cooks across the state experimented with making a simple menu uniquely their own. Today the classic fish fry menu consists of beer-battered fried perch, bluegill, walleye, catfish, or cod brought in from the East Coast. The fish is served with tartar sauce, French fries or German-style potato pancakes, coleslaw, and buttered rye bread.

Fish fry aficionados will certainly find something completely unique in the Northwoods as almost every restaurant north of Hwy. 8 puts their own special twist on this Wisconsin classic. Here is a list of where you can find your next favorite Friday night fish fry in the North.

 

Aurora Borealis Restaurant

Manitowish Waters

With their delicious perch fish fry, “AB” is one of our favorite spots to unwind on Friday night with fish and a cranberry mojito. On warmer evenings, take advantage of their screened porch. For a casual evening, pick a seat at the bar. If you want a more modern twist on your fish, we love the fish tacos on their bar menu served with citrus slaw and house-made salsas. We suggest saving room for dessert - our favorite, a brandy alexander ice cream drink with plenty to share with a friend. For a table in the dining room, we suggest a reservation. 

 

Angler’s Fine Food and Spirits

Tied for the 2017 Best Friday Night Fish Fry

Manitowish Waters

The Friday line up at this intersection includes walleye + haddock, with a variety of cooking styles to choose from, including cajun seasoning. The bonus at Angler’s is their daily homemade soup + desserts. If you get there early, take a stroll down to their dock – located across the street – to appreciate the evening calm on Vance Lake.

 

Bent’s Camp

Land ‘O Lakes

A little off the beaten path - but worth the drive - Bent’s Camp is a traditional historic Wisconsin resort, built in 1906. Unique to Bent’s Camp, all of the traditional fish fry sides are served on a classic enamel plate before your main course. Enjoy their spread of fries, baked beans, potato salad, coleslaw, Bent’s Camp corn, and rye bread before diving into their all you can eat deep fried beer battered haddock. Pizza + broasted chicken are equally delicious for the non-fish eaters (we'll still claim them) in your life. Reservations are not accepted so come early, grab a drink, and wander the property, located on Mamie Lake. 

 

The Broken Oar Saloon

Tied for the 2017 Best Friday Night Fish Fry

Manitowish Waters

Serving fish fry every night they are open, Broken Oar is known for their delicious fish alongside crispy French fries, great baked beans, and Blue Bayou Inn’s famous tartar sauce. Dust off your foosball skills on their porch table while you wait for your family-style fish fry.

 

Four Seasons Supper Club and Resort

Northerly’s top pick!

Arbor Vitae

Our favorite Northwoods fish fry comes with a spectacular view of Big Arbor Vitae Lake. We suggest going early (they don’t take reservations) and having one of their famous old fashioned cocktails while you wait for a table. Fair warning - the wait for a table is usually long, but it's definitely worth it. Their signature dish is a beer battered Alaskan whitefish that will never disappoint. 

 

The Guide’s Inn

Boulder Junction

Switch up your fish fry game and try their Bluegill or Rainbow Trout specials on Friday night. Enjoy their cozy atmosphere that feels more like home than a restaurant. Their relish tray and fresh baked bread are complementary for the table, so you literally get to “break bread” with the ones you love. 

 

Headwaters Restaurant and Tavern

Boulder Junction

Famous for their baked haddock with their "Special Topping”, going to Headwaters is a long running tradition for many Boulder Jct folks. If baked haddock isn't your thing, they also serve up the traditional options - cod + walleye. Arrive early and enjoy a cocktail on the deck, overlooking the Manitowish River, before treating your taste buds to one of the most popular fish fries in the North.

 

Pope’s Gresham Lodge

Woodruff

The definition of the traditional Wisconsin fish fry - fried with extra tartar sauce - this is a local favorite especially during snowmobile season. Enjoy your fish fry family style while admiring their Northwoods decor - antique fishing gear and plenty of taxidermy treasures that speak to a different era. 

 

Rustic Roadhaus

Manitowish Waters

Their extensive Friday night fish fry selection, from haddock to perch, is a local crowd pleaser. Our favorite pick on their menu is their unique parmesan encrusted haddock, with a cup of clam chowder on the side. Start with their build your own salad bar to make sure you eat a few veggies before diving into your fried plate of goodness. In true Wisconsin fashion, wash it all down with a Spotted Cow on tap. 

 

Smokey’s Supper Club

Manitowish Waters

For those looking for a more refined fish fry experience. Always on the menu, their pan-fried Canadian walleye is consistently one of the best in the Northwoods. Choose a wine from their robust wine list and enjoy a dining experience with your special someone (cue live piano music played every Friday night).

 

Visit other local favorites on the 2017 Best Of Manitowish Waters list. 
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