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 church basements, restaurants and fire halls start dropping baskets of hot oil for a community celebration of deep-fried goodness.
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
How do I order? Since fish fries are going to be a bit different this year, we encourage you to call in advance and place your to-go order to help things run as smooth as possible. And please, wear your mask to help keep workers and volunteers safe!
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 2021, most Laurel Highlands fish fries will kick off on Ash Wednesday Feb. 17, then continue each Friday from Feb. 19 through 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 than 100 fire halls, churches, social clubs and restaurants to enjoy a fish fry at! 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.
Our friends at Downtown Greensburg Project have also done the hard work of creating a digital guide to all the area fish fries in one place. Make sure to use the "Lunch" tab to find all of the places open for dine-in or take-out fish fries during the work day!
Westmoreland County Churches and Community Centers
The tradition of eating fish during Lent dates back to the third century, and Laurel Highlands churches carry on this tradition today! Many churches are changing it up this year, but still need your support as the start of this fun tradition. Our Lady of Grace Parish in Greensburg is drive-thru only and includes 1/2 lb. of their deep fried cod on a 10-inch bun along with sides and a drink for only $10.
Laurel Highlands' volunteer fire departments also get in on the fish fry action! The Norvelt Fire Department can't be beat, and thousands of their fresh, hand-breaded cod goes out the door each week. This year is to-go only, so be sure you place your order online or call ahead to help get your dinner ready as quickly as possible.
Westmoreland County Restaurants and Breweries
Westmoreland County restaurants always know when it's fish fry season, so keep an eye on their Facebooks and websites for specials. 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 $21.99. 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! Yellow Bridge Brewing in Export is kicking things off on Ash Wednesday with Tin Shack BBQ serving a fish fry right at the taproom. 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 the newly-opened Barattolo and Chef De Cuisine Adan Morales is offering one of my favorite fish dishes. A staple of Italian cuisine, their cioppino is a tantalizing assortment of sea bass, mussels, shrimp and scallops served in a white wine broth, for a deliciously upscale version of this rustic dish.
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 caradamom seared sea scallops (served with pumpkin puree and apple brown butter) 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!