The Laurel Highlands is one of only a few regions in the United States that celebrates the Catholic Lenten tradition of fish fries. Each Friday during Lent our churches, restaurants and fire halls transform into small communities full of people from all walks of life enjoying a meatless meal together.
Whether you're a fish fry aficionado or are a guppy new to the tradition, we invite you to try a Laurel Highlands fish fry by using this guide to locations, dishes and gatherings near you! We think you'll agree that this tradition is quite the catch.
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 on the menu? In southwestern PA, the main dish of a fish fry is usually a battered, deep-fried cod or haddock 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 2020, most Laurel Highlands fish fries will kick off Friday, Feb. 28, and continue through Friday, April 3.
How do I pay? While many places accept cards, it's still a good idea to bring cash. There's also 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 and breweries add Lenten specials to their menus. From giant fish sandwiches to five-star, farm-to-table fillets, the Laurel Highlands has something for every appetite and budget.
Find Every Fish Fry in Westmoreland County
With the largest population of the Laurel Highlands, Westmoreland County has more 100 fire halls, churches, social clubs and restaurants 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. New this year is a special "Lunch" tab to find all of the places open for dine-in or take-out fish fries during the work day!
Not sure where to start? Stop by the Westmoreland Visitors Information Center for a complete guide to the county's fish fries, including menu items and phone numbers, then plan your trip through the rest of the county.
Westmoreland County Churches and Community Centers
The tradition of eating fish dates back to the third century, and Laurel Highlands churches carry on this tradition today! Use the Diocese of Greensburg's fish fry guide to find all participating churches. Many churches have something unique to offer, from orange roughy at Our Lady of Grace Parish in Greensburg to steamed salmon with dill sauce at Church of the Good Shepherd in Kent, and pasta specialties like gnocchi, cheese lasagna and manicotti at St. Piux X in Mount Pleasant. Yum!
Laurel Highlands volunteer fire departments also get in on the fish fry action! The Norvelt Fire Department can't be beat, and their fresh, thousands of their hand-breaded cod goes out the door 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, mac and cheese, green beans, coleslaw, drinks, dessert, cornbread and a weekly special.
Westmoreland County Restaurants and Breweries
Westmoreland County restaurants always know it's fish fry season, so keep an eye on their Facebooks and websites for specials. Stop by the Ligonier Tavern for their Tavern Whaler pictured above for lunch and their Hoisin BBQ Salmon for dinner, served with tempura asparagus and curried cucumbers. Keith Heinritz Katering 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, and during Lent you can get a Fish Fry to Go feast which includes two of their amazing fish sandwiches, fresh potato chips, homemade ranch and a pint or coleslaw or soup for only $19.99. Try one out in at locations in Greensburg, Irwin, New Stanton, Somerset, Uniontown and other Laurel Highlands locations.
Even our craft breweries get in on the fish fry fun! Helltown Brewing in Export and Four Seasons Brewing in Latrobe have weekly fish fries, and Devout has teamed up with a local church for a fish fry on select Fridays. So, grab your Laurel Highlands Pour Tour passport and experience this tradition along with a pint of your favorite local brew.
Elevating the Fish Sandwich
Want to up your fish fry game? There's plenty of places in Fayette County that take the traditional fish sandwich to the next level. Bittersweet Café in Farmington offers a salmon fillet sandwich with an upscale take: Alaskan sockeye salmon served with spring greens and an herb and caper mayo on a homemade bun.
Take your fish dinner to the next level of luxury at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort, where executive chef Kristin Butterworth and her team of culinary artists lead 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 chèvre, jalapeño honey and brown butter pecans.
Somerset County Fish Fries and Restaurants
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 ordering their locally-sourced Laurel Highlands trout or decadent seared sea scallops as an entrée.
Local Fish Fries and Events
Smaller communities like Somerset still have a fish fry or fish special around every corner. Grab a fish hoagie at Tailgatez, the Hoppy Haddock or deep-fried pierogis at Windber Hotel or the giant fish sandwich from Oakhurst Grille (shown above). 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.
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 tradition alive in our region!