Fish Fries are a staple of the Midwest region.
For those of us who call this area home, the smell of perfectly cooked fish and the scrumptious taste of rich, homemade batters, calls to mind quality time spent gathered around a table with friends and family on Friday nights.
The hometown nature of fish fries appeal to families, couples and friends. Luckily, Southeastern Wisconsin and Northern Illinois have numerous restaurants to choose from that offer these phenomenal meals. Here, we have narrowed down the selection and chosen three local restaurants that cook up delicious fish fries for every palette.
The Duck Inn
The Duck Inn is located in the city of Delavan. Offering traditional and elegant dining with a family feel in a unique country setting, this inn was originally designed as a speakeasy where patrons would “duck-in” for a drink during the prohibition era. Jeff Karbash, who purchased the restaurant 25 years ago, transformed the space into a comfortable eatery that also offers a friendly ambiance and fine-dining atmosphere.
The three dining rooms provide ample space to share stories, savor memories with both family and friends, and of course, enjoy the food. Duck is high on the menu, but Friday nights bring their superior fish fry to the forefront. “The food is not prepared, it is created,” Jeff explains.
“We offer a light, flavorful beer-battered perch, smelt and cod,” he says. The Duck Inn fish fry is served with homemade potato pancakes, French fries, apple sauce, or rye bread.
“We suggest pairing the fish fry with one of our four German beers, or a craft cocktail from our full bar,” Jeff says, “but we also recommend our homemade desserts.”
These include a turtle cheesecake, chocolate layer cake with a caramel cream-cheese frosting, crème brulee, and a Georgia peach and Michigan blueberry pie.
But the Duck Inn doesn’t forget the little ones. They have plenty to offer on the children’s menu.
“We love that we have a strong local following,” Karbash says. “We are a good meet-up point between Elkhorn and Janesville, as well as Rockford and Madison.”
CR-A and Hwy 89
N6214 WI-89, Delavan, WI 53115
Mon, Wed, Thurs, Fri, Sat: 4-9pm
Crandall’s Restaurant is well-known for both its cozy atmosphere and the delicious meals they serve. Located two miles from the Wisconsin and Illinois border in Hebron, Illinois, patrons know that they will feel right at home as soon as they enter this family-friendly restaurant.
“We are the Northern Illinois Supper Club,” says Anita Briscoe, Crandall’s daytime manager.
The building opened in 1950 as a drive-in, however by 1969, a local family of the same name, put Crandall’s on the map with its famous chicken. It briefly was turned into Hebron Road House, but quickly was purchased by Joe Joseph and returned to its Crandall’s roots. After that, Dean Beck and his parents, Dave and Judi, purchased the restaurant back in 2014.
“We didn’t make any announcement,” Dean Beck says. “We were going to keep everything the same. Same cooks, same menu, same staff.”
That air of familiarity keeps bringing people to the establishment, and has earned them many regular customers.
“We have the same groups of people coming in every Thursday or Friday night, or on the weekends,” Beck says. “Most of our customers are repeat customers.”
Since Crandall’s has long been a popular stop for people en-route from Chicago to summer homes in Lake Geneva, Beck says he finds many people stopping in for a bit of nostalgia.
“They will tell me that they remember coming in with their parents or grandparents,” he says. “It has been part of childhood memories for so many, and that is awesome. We want to continue to create new memories and be there to help others reminisce about old ones.”
Many of those memories revolve around food. The restaurant is famously known for its broasted chicken, and on fish fry Fridays, hungry guests don’t have to pick. “We offer our fish fries on Friday nights, and, for those who cannot choose, we offer a chicken and fish combo,” Briscoe says.
Beck says the combo is highly anticipated. “We only offer it on Fridays, and it is one of our most popular meals. We often get a very high volume of customers on Friday night, but we also have a very low wait-time — often not more than 15 minutes, if any at all.”
According to Briscoe, the coleslaw is homemade, and so are the potato pancakes and the delicious mashed potatoes. Both the food and the atmosphere are inviting. “Kids are welcome, and we have a fish fry [that is portioned just] for them, as well as our regular children’s menu,” she says.
Your Friday night wouldn’t be complete unless you also grabbed a bite of Crandall’s homemade dessert. You can choose from a smorgasbord of pies, cakes and cheesecake to top off your meal.
10441 IL-47, Hebron, IL 60034
Sunday Brunch: 10am-1:30pm
Sunday Full Menu: 1:30-8pm
Someplace Else Restaurant
If you are in the mood for time-tested recipes, Someplace Else delivers. Located in historic downtown Elkhorn, Someplace Else offers spacious seating, a comfortable atmosphere, wi-fi and frequent sports coverage.
When a great recipe is found, the restaurant “borrows” the recipe and adds it to their menu. Now, regulars have been enjoying “borrowed” recipes there for over 25 years. When original owners Kris and Denny Mohr were ready to sell their restaurant, Katie Duckworth, who had been the manager of Someplace Else for nearly 10 years, was up to the task. Along with Dean Pierce, they took over and continued the traditions of making dishes from scratch.
Someplace Else’s fish fry is a true favorite. Baked or fried, customers come back every Friday for the family-friendly favorites.
“We offer a plated, baked 6-8 oz. cod fillet with a garlic crumb topping that is made in-house,” Duckworth says. “Our all-you-can-eat beer-battered fried fish is hand battered and made to order. Customers say our fish and batter is light and flaky.”
The Someplace Else fish fry sides include French fries, a baked potato, homemade potato pancakes, a cup of soup or coleslaw — all homemade.
“The potato pancakes are a family recipe from Denny’s grandmother,” Duckworth says. “In addition to the sides, we also recommend pairing our fish with our old-fashioneds, or finishing with a homemade dessert. I make them from scratch, and I recommend our carrot cake — it is a family recipe and features a cream cheese frosting.”
Described as cozy and inviting by customers, patrons enjoy the casual atmosphere that caters to families and groups. Someplace Else also makes sure everyone is included in the fish fry fun, with a menu designed just for younger appetites.
“I love to be on the floor,” Duckworth says. “I enjoy connecting with customers, but I also love to cook. So does Dean. So, I spend a lot of time cooking, but I enjoy interacting with our regulars and meeting new customers as well.”
“Come check us out — we’d love to meet you,” she says.
1 W. Walworth St.
Elkhorn, Wisconsin 53121
By Tricia Carzoli
Photography by Matt Haas