Story by Lynette Rae McAdams
From the light, beer-battered specialties of our breweries and cafés, to the Panko-crusted offerings of our finest dinner houses, every local line cook and executive chef has his or her own spin on what makes this sea-faring classic truly sing. And it’s not just the batter that matters; what’s inside counts too. Fresh cod? Wild salmon? Albacore tuna? Or perhaps you’ve come here on a quest for halibut, and simply nothing else will do.
In a sea of fish and chips, it can be tough to know just where to cast your net, but herein lies a showcase of our region’s best — 14 superior baskets that all possess that golden touch.
A classic accompaniment to seafood, fresh tartar sauce is so quick and easy to make, you’ll never settle for the store-bought variety again. Coarse and tangy, this version can be tailored to your tastes: Punch things up by adding garlic, horseradish, cajun seasoning, hot sauce, or fresh herbs. Yields 1 1/2 cups.
1 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon diced onion
1 tablespoon diced dill pickle
1 tablespoon chopped capers
1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons lemon juice
pinch of sugar
Whisk all ingredients together in a medium bowl to blend. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Chill for at least an hour; serve cold.
9604 Pacific Way, Long Beach, WA
Cod is king when it comes to the fish and chips at this favorite Long Beach eatery, which overlooks the Peninsula Golf Course. Adorned with a light beer batter, ample pieces of fish rest atop a pile of coated fries — all of it glowing to golden perfection. The house tartar is just the right amount of tangy, and the side of Asian chili coleslaw lends a pleasing sweetness; with service that’s some of the friendliest in town, the only thing you’ll be wanting is more.
Salt Pub & Hotel
147 Howerton Ave., Ilwaco, WA
Overlooking the port of Ilwaco, this upstairs pub adds a salty flair to family-friendly dining. Watch the day boats come in from your panoramic seat at the window knowing one of them just caught the fish you’ll be having for dinner. Ample portions of beer-battered albacore are always top notch, and the hand-cut fries are great too (though the Dungeness crab hushpuppies are even better).
The Old Fishtrap
779 U.S. Highway 101, Chinook, WA
The quintessential watering hole for this working fishing town, The Old Fishtrap has a fleet of local fans, and with good reason. Fresh-catch fish and chips change seasonally (and sometimes daily) but are always tender, flaky, and crisp, served with hand-cut fries and coleslaw made from scratch.
Bowpicker Fish & Chips
17th and Duane streets, Astoria, OR
If you’re a fan (and you should be) of the albacore fish and chips craze that’s sweeping the coast, you have the Bowpicker to thank for it. A pioneer of this tasty sensation, Bowpicker sells its finely battered fare direct from a converted old fishing boat that now has a galley for a wheelhouse. Lines can be long, but the wait is so worth it: Incredibly moist fish pairs with crispy, tender steak fries, all of it served to go.
175 14th St., Suite 180, Astoria, OR
Sitting dockside along the Columbia River has its perks: One is an incredible view, 365 days a year; the other is easy access to some of the finest fishing grounds on Earth. Clemente’s takes advantage of both, offering a selection of fresh fish for the frying, including cod, halibut, and, whenever they can get it (which is, thankfully, often), wild salmon. The extra omega fats in this exceptional fish take this dish over the edge, turning casual fare into something special and uniquely Northwest.
No. 1 Eighth St., Astoria, OR
One of Astoria’s premier craft breweries, Buoy Beer resides in a refurbished waterfront cannery, replete with outstanding views and exceptional food and drinks. Rockfish is the everyday winner for the restaurant’s popular basket of fish and chips, which is prepared with a light and crispy tempura beer batter (obviously) and served with tartar and a wedge of lemon. Cold beer. Fried fish. River view. Complete happiness.
No. 1 Second St., Astoria, OR
An icon on the Astoria waterfront for more than 40 years, this English pub and restaurant serves great fish and chips — it’s practically a genetic requirement. Run by a Brit, The Ship Inn sticks to a traditional beer-less batter that works flawlessly with either the cod or halibut — both available in generous half or whole portions. Thick-cut steak fries are more like the real-deal “chips” of the U.K., and the malt vinegar is already on the table. Did we mention the view?
20 Basin St., Astoria, OR
It’s almost unbelievable that fish and chips that taste this good could also be gluten-free, but leave it to the Bridgewater, one of the region’s finest restaurants, to offer us something delightfully new. At this restored historic boatyard, with fabulous bridge and river views, wild Alaskan cod is bathed in evaporated milk, tossed in a blend of seasoned corn and rice flours, then fried precisely right, delivering a dish that is light and crisp but also wonderfully succulent.
422 W. Marine Drive, Astoria, OR
Cold beer. Fried fish. River view. Complete happiness.
The first bar within walking distance of the port’s West Basin Marina, The Portway has been a haven to every fisherman, dockworker, and international sailor in Astoria since 1925. The tavern is weathered and worn and authentically salty in all the very best ways, and if we didn’t mention their fresh halibut fish and chips, there’s a good chance someone might try to fight us. The fish and chips are awesome: Lightly battered and cooked just so, they’re as good as you can get them.
850 N. Roosevelt Drive, Seaside, OR
Blending the best of British stand-alone chip shacks with America’s first love, the automobile, this drive-thru marvel serves only fish and chips, made only from tuna — and boy, are they good at it. Ensconced in a thick-as-a-grizzly’s-fur coat of Panko, which perfectly offsets the firm, juicy fish, Grizzly Tuna is one of a kind in taste and delivery.
Public Coast Brewery
264 E. Third St., Cannon Beach, OR
At Cannon Beach’s newest brewery, the beer may be great, but the fish and chips are out of this world. Offering halibut or the fish of the day, this counter-service establishment takes your order then sends you off with a pager that lights up and vibrates like mad the second your food is ready. Cleverly, since you’d never be foolish enough to let it sit in the window, this ensures a piping hot delivery every time. Oh-so-lightly battered, this pick is as fresh and crispy as they come.
Bill’s Tavern & Brewhouse
188 N. Hemlock St., Cannon Beach, OR
A fixture in this coastal town since the early-early days, Bill’s consistently serves up really cold beer and really hot fish and chips in a kid-friendly pub with a dog-friendly patio — essentially the best of every world. Large portions of cod or halibut are dipped in the house’s own beer batter, served with extra crispy fries, garlic bread, tartar, and lemon.
Tom’s Fish & Chips
240 N. Hemlock St., Cannon Beach, OR
They may be fairly new in town, but Tom’s made a splash right from the start. Serving classic beach food that’s fast, family-friendly, and affordably priced, the fish and chips here are noteworthy for their flavor and otherwise fried goodness but also for their variety: Cod, halibut, salmon, prawns, or clams all make worthy baskets. Kids will love the free paper sailor hats.
127 Laneda Ave., Manzanita, OR
Inside, it’s a classic Oregon tavern — a little bit loud, a little bit sassy, and a little bit long on great beer; in other words, just the way we like it. Outside on the patio (weather permitting), there’s a kind of bistro vibe that also seems to fit right in. Wherever you end up, we’re sure your generous portion of cod fish and chips will arrive lightly battered, on a heaping mound of fries, with tartar and fresh lemon aplenty. These folks have been doing it right since 1935. Trust them; you’ll be happy.