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Thursday, Feb. 16, 2012

Milwaukee Fish Fries 2012

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Milwaukee is known for a few food and drink stereotypes, most notably beer and brats. On Fridays, however, nothing tops the fish fry. These traditional meals can be found nearly everywhere in the city, from local corner taverns to some of the most high-end restaurants. Lakefront Brewery and Serb Hall are among the most popular destinations, but there are plenty of others worth a try. Here is a short list of Friday fish fries of note:

Crocus


3577 S. 13th St.

At Crocus, one of Milwaukee's two authentic Polish restaurants, the seating is comfortable and the décor adds native touches such as prints of people in traditional costumes. The menu includes Polish favorites like beef roll-ups, stuffed cabbage and pierogies. Friday is the only weekday when the restaurant is open for lunch. Not surprisingly, the customers arrive for the fish fry. The three choices include battered cod, perch and baked whitefish. The perch is always good and tends to sell out during the evening. Soup is included—some nights you will find a delightful sorrel soup—as well as coleslaw, bread and a choice of potato. Opt for the large potato pancakes, which are as thin as crepes.

Victor's on Van Buren


1230 N. Van Buren St.

With loud music and a metal dance floor, Victor's has a well-deserved reputation as a singles' bar. This is Milwaukee's version of Studio 54. But that action does not occur until the evening's later hours. Before 9 p.m., Victor's also functions as a restaurant. They serve an excellent prime rib, and on Fridays you will find one of the best local fish fries. The choices are simple: battered cod or perch. The cod is all-you-can-eat, a rarity these days. The lake perch is a single serving, but it is about as good as perch gets. A side of baked potato comes with sour cream and pieces of real bacon. At dinnertime, Victor's offers touches of a classic supper club.

Mulligans Irish Pub & Grill


8933 S. 27th St.

Haddock was one of the most popular choices for fish fries in the 1960s and '70s. Among the few restaurants still serving it is Mulligans, located in the southern reaches of Milwaukee. Mulligans creates an Irish pub atmosphere where the Guinness flows freely. The haddock, served every day, is prepared in a Harp beer batter. The light, feathery batter is simply one of the best. Friday offers other fish as well. You likely will find lake perch and bluegills, and maybe even walleye. Friday is also when the kitchen departs from its typical Irish pub mode of fish and chips. Instead, you will find items like citrus-marinated Chilean sea bass, barbecue Asian shrimp with lo mein, and diver sea scallops with wild mushroom risotto. You will likely have to wait for a table, but the bar is a pleasant place at which to relax.

Painted Parrot


8028 W. National Ave.

West Allis has no shortage of corner bars with fish fries, but the Painted Parrot manages to stand out. The interior features a Caribbean island theme, with reggae music and bold, colorful murals of scenes from Jamaica. The menu offers appetizers, sandwiches and a few island entrees, but on Fridays most everyone opts for the fish fry. It arrives with a heap of french fries on the underside of a metal trash can lid that is placed on a tripod stand, allowing more table space for all. The fish fry here is all-you-can-eat cod. Perch is also available, as is poor man's lobster. This is the place to have a few beers, sit back and take in the reggae music.

Packing House


900 E. Layton Ave.

The Packing House is a longtime favorite that offers typical supper-club items like steak, ribs, chops and chicken. The daily menu offers a number of seafood choices, including haddock Oscar, king crab legs and Canadian walleye almondine. The very popular Friday fish fry serves battered cod with traditional sides of coleslaw, rye bread, a choice of fries or potato pancakes, and a cup of clam chowder. The fish fry is so popular that there is a drive-up window from 3-9 p.m. (It's cash only at the drive-up.)