The Laurel Highlands is one of only a few regions in the United States that celebrates the Catholic Lenten tradition of eating fish each Friday as our churches, restaurants and fire halls turn into small communities full of people from all walks of life enjoying a meal together.
Whether you're a fish fry aficionado or just traveling through, we invite you to be part of our fish fry tradition in the Laurel Highlands with this guide to locations, dishes and gatherings near you!
FAQs about Fish Fries
Do I have to belong to a church to attend? You don't have to be Catholic or from the community in order to participate in an amazing Laurel Highlands fish fry! All are welcome to attend.
What's typically on the menu? In southwestern PA, the main dish of a fish fry is usually a battered, deep-fried cod served on a bun or roll. Baked fish, shrimp and crab cakes are also popular main courses, but call in advance to make sure what's on the menu! Side dishes include Polish-American favorites like haluski and pierogis and more standard fare like coleslaw, fries and hush puppies.
When does this happen? Typically, fish fries are held every Friday during Lent, and the dates vary slightly each year. For 2019, most Laurel Highlands fish fries will kick off Friday, March 8, and continue through Friday, April 12.
How do I pay? While many places now accept cards, it's still a good idea to bring cash. Plus, there's usually cash-only activities to participate in while you're there like raffles, dessert tables and more.
Where else can I celebrate? Outside of churches and community centers, many Laurel Highlands restaurants add Lenten specials to their menus. From giant fish sandwiches to five-star, farm-to-table filets, the Laurel Highlands has something for every appetite and budget.
Find Westmoreland County Fish Fries
With the largest population of the Laurel Highlands, Westmoreland County has nearly 100 places to enjoy a Friday fish fry! Luckily, our friends at the Downtown Greensburg Project have done the hard work of listing all of the locations and menus for you in one place. Or, check out their interactive map to find the location closest to you!
There's so many fish fries that they were often competing to be voted the best in the region. Based on sheer numbers, the Norvelt Fire Department can't be beat, and their fresh, hand-breaded cod goes out the door by the thousands each week. For something a little different, try the Madison Volunteer Fire Company, which offers a unique Lent buffet. $15 gets you all-you-can-eat fried or baked fish, haluski, macaroni and cheese, green beans, coleslaw, drinks, dessert, cornbread and a weekly special.
Westmoreland County Restaurants and Breweries
As far as Westmoreland County restaurants, you can't go wrong with the seafood selection. Keith Heinritz Katering serves the massive fish sandwich shown above and is consistently voted one of the top fish fries not only in the county, but in the greater Pittsburgh area.
At locations throughout the Laurel Highlands, Eat'n Park has been serving up smiles since 1949. Their Whale of a Cod fish sandwich has always been a menu favorite, especially during Lent, and this year they're upping the spice level with their new Nashville Hot sandwich, the same Whale of a Cod you love served with Nashville hot tartar sauce, sliced pickles and shredded lettuce. Try one out in at locations in Greensburg, Irwin, New Stanton, Somerset, Uniontown and all around our region.
Even our craft breweries get in on the fish fry fun! Four Seasons Brewing in Latrobe and Helltown Brewing in Export each have weekly fish fries, so grab your growler and experience this tradition along with a glass of your favorite local brew.
Elevating the Fish Sandwich
Want to up your fish fry game? There's plenty of places that take the traditional fish sandwich to the next level. Bittersweet Cafe in Farmington offers a salmon fillet sandwich, an upscale take with Alaskan sockeye salmon served with spring greens and a herb and caper mayo on a homemade bun.
Take your fish dinner to the next level of luxury at Nemacolin, where executive chef Kristin Butterworth and her team of culinary artistes leads Lautrec, a Forbes Five-Star and AAA Five-Diamond Restaurant. Start with the Kumamoto oysters, served with charred pineapple and candied jalapeno. Then indulge on escargot and their famous Hokkaido scallops, shown above, cooked to perfection and served with sweet potato gratin, smoked chevre, jalapeno honey and brown butter pecans.
Fayette County Fish Fries
If you're looking for the best Fayette County fish fry as you pass through the beautiful countryside, don't worry, there's a map for that. The Observer Reporter has put together their own map of some of the top fish fries of the region for you to browse. Naomi Athletic Club in Fayette City, Mount Olivet Baptist Church in Uniontown and Bullskin Fire Company in Connellsville are all great options as you travel through the county.
Somerset County Fish Fries and Restaurants
Local Fish Fries and Events
Even our smaller communities like Somerset have a fish fry at every corner. Grab a fish hoagie at Tailgatez, the Hoppy Haddock at Windber Hotel, the giant fish sandwich from Oakhurst Grille (shown above) or the classic fish sandwich from Martin General Store in Boswell. The Somerset Chamber does a great job of keeping the times, dates and menus of all the community fish fries up-to-date, starting on Ash Wednesday at St. Peter's in Somerset.
Our camps and conference centers incorporate the fish fry, too, such as Camp Harmony's Fish Fry & Community Lenten Service on Sunday, April 7.
Seven Springs Fine Dining
After a long day exploring the Laurel Highlands, maybe you're just ready to relax at Seven Springs Mountain Resort and dine at Helen's! For the seafood lover, we recommend starting with their pan-roasted prawns and entrees of either their locally-sourced Laurel Highlands trout or decadent seared sea scallops.
We hope you take this invitation to become a part of the fish fry tradition of the Laurel Highlands and support community organizations, breweries and restaurants that keep this unique heritage alive in our region!