Top 10 Fish-and-Chips
It's so simple, just battered fish and French fries. But it's sublime when done right. Here's where.
1. A Salt & Battery, New York City, NY.
Motto: "In cod we trust." A British expatriate couple launched this tiny but authentic British fish-and-chips purveyor next to their Greenwich Village tea shop (later adding a second, East Village location). How authentic? Reps from both the BBC and The Times of London have tasted and approved. For dessert, try an old Scottish treat: a deep-fried Mars bar (really); 212/691-2713, 212/254-6610, or asaltandbattery.com.
2. Alexander's Fish, Chicken & Chips, Kihei, Maui, HI.
Bathing suits (and their wearers) are welcome at this casual, open-air Maui institution, just across Kalama Park from the beach. You can have your choice of mahimahi, ahi tuna, and wahoo (also known as ono), and you can even get the fish broiled instead of fried. Order at the counter, claim a table, and enjoy the sea breeze; 808/874-0788 or alexandersonmaui.com.
3. The Barnacle, Marblehead, MA.
Locals love this little place, which literally overhangs the water. You won't get a lot of elbow room, but you will get wonderful, nongreasy fried haddock. Big windows show off the ocean views. If you're in the mood for lively conversation, snag a seat at the bar; 781/631-4236.
4. Ye Olde King's Head, Santa Monica, CA.
British rock stars have been known to hang out here―perhaps for the great fish-and-chips, perhaps for the pubby English atmosphere, or perhaps for the European football matches (or, as an American would call them, soccer matches) on TV. It's all within a dart's throw-did we mention the dart games?-from the beach and the lively amusements of the Santa Monica Pier; 310/451-1402 or yeoldekingshead.com.
5. Chinook's at Salmon Bay, Seattle, WA.
Choose from a variety of fish for your fish-and-chips here. They're all fresh from the boats that dock at Fishermen's Terminal, right outside the windows. Working fishermen eat here, too―always a good sign; 206/283-4665 or anthonys.com (click on "Restaurants").
6. The Red Lion Pub, Chicago, IL.
To provide nourishment for the mind as well as the body, The Red Lion holds literary readings every Monday night. It's an English-style pub, so lots of British beers complement the Atlantic cod fish-and-chips. The bartenders encourage spirited but civil conversation. Speaking of spirited, the pub also reportedly shelters a number of resident ghosts; 773/348-2695 or theredlionpub.com.
7. Seagrove Village Market Café, Seagrove Beach, FL.
Nestled beneath fragrant magnolias and Spanish moss-draped live oaks, this jewel of a dive off County Road 30-A has served a low-key taste of Old Florida since 1949. Bypass the cramped dining room for the quaint patio decorated with twinkling lights, fishing nets, and green plastic furniture. We love the grouper fish-and-chips (on the menu as a seafood platter) and the piping-hot grouper po' boy with tangy tartar sauce and crispy fries. Locals line up on Tuesdays and Fridays for the coconut-shrimp special. Browse the tiny market on your way out; 850/231-5736 or villagemarketcafe.com.
8. Lucia Lodge, Big Sur, CA.
Here's the bottom line: good fish-and-chips, absolutely spectacular Pacific Ocean views. The rustic, 1930s-era Lucia Lodge consists of overnight cabins, a restaurant/lounge, and a general store. It all clings to a cliff along Central California's supremely scenic Big Sur coast. Either on the deck (bring a sweater) or by the window in the cozy dining room, you get gorgeous scenery along with two big pieces of fresh rock cod and a pile of fries; 831/667-2391 or lucialodge.com.
9. John Steven, Ltd., Baltimore, MD.
A dark, eccentric bar-restaurant in funky-chic Fells Point, John Steven serves everything from crab pizza to sushi. It's most famous for steamed shrimp, but it also does a superb job with beer-battered cod fish-and-chips; 877/732-3460 or johnstevenltd.com.
10. Barb's Place, Victoria, BC.
We're listing this one last because it's open only March through October. The rest of the year, the proprietors travel. Still, Barb's is worth the wait. It serves terrific halibut and cod fish-and-chips from a floating restaurant at Fisherman's Wharf. Two open-air picnic tables provide the only formal seating. Or, if you look at it another way, the dining area consists of the entire Inner Harbour; 250/384-6515 or bcexplore.com/barbs.htm.