Friday fish fry in Wisconsin

Bluegill fish fry from RP Adler's | Photo by @madisonfishfry

Living in Wisconsin, you’ve probably spent some of your Fridays enjoying a fish fry with your family + friends. A fish fry at the start of the weekend has been a longstanding tradition in the Badger State, but why?

  • When settlers came to the Wisconsin area, many with German and Polish backgrounds were heavily influenced by the Catholic Church. Until the 1960s, members of the Catholic religion were forbidden from eating warm-blooded meat on Fridays.
  • This led Wisconsin families to turn to the many lakes across the state, full of fish varieties such as the perch, walleye, haddock, cod, and bluegill. 
  • When Prohibition was at its height, taverns began turning from selling booze to plates of fish. Frying fish was cheap, and it was not difficult to learn the fish fry cooking processes. This helped the taverns stay in business + spread the love of fish even more across the state. 

New to Wisconsin and never experienced fish fry? No worries. Here’s what you can expect to find on your plate: 

  • Beer-battered + deep-fried perch, walleye, haddock, cod, or bluegill
  • Potatoes — French fries, potato pancakes, hash browns, fried potatoes, or baby reds
  • Crisp coleslaw 
  • Slice of rye bread 
  • Assortment of condiments — lemon wedges, malt vinegar, or tartar sauce

Ready to get a taste of a true Wisconsin fish fry? Check out a few spots around downtown Madison offering the dish:

And for those passionate about their Friday fish fry, check out this local website that reviews fish fry across Wisconsin and the Madison area, ranking eateries who claim to cook up a true Wisconsin fish fry.