Exploring the Tradition of Friday Fish Fries

Every Friday, Wisconsinites uphold a tradition as old as time itself: the Friday Fish Fry. This beloved custom unites communities, marking the end of the week with a satisfying feast. In Wisconsin, where supper clubs and local eateries hold a special place in the hearts of residents, the Friday Fish Fry is more than just a meal- it’s a cultural institution.

Dating back to the early 19th century when Catholic immigrants abstained from eating meat on Fridays, the Friday Fish Fry has evolved into a beloved custom that transcends religious boundaries. It’s a time-honored tradition that showcases Wisconsin’s deep connection to its culinary roots and local businesses.

In every corner of Milwaukee, you’ll find establishments that take pride in their Friday Fish Fries, each offering its own unique twist on the classic dish. Here are five must-visit spots in and around East Town where you can partake in this tradition:

The Knick

Nestled alongside the Knickerbocker Hotel, The Knick boasts an upbeat, contemporary dining experience. Its modern and stylish ambiance exudes a “big city feel” coupled with friendly service. Enjoy a cod or perch fry paired with steak fries, coleslaw, tartar sauce and a salted rye baguette every Wednesday through Easter and Fridays starting at 11 a.m. Whether you’re craving a midweek treat or kicking off the weekend, let The Knick be your destination.

Kegel’s Inn

Since 1924, Kegel’s Inn has proudly served authentic German cuisine, earning its place as a cherished fixture in our community for generations. Although Kegel’s Inn isn’t in East Town, it remains one of Milwaukee’s premier destinations for a memorable Friday fish fry experience. Choose from a wide selection of hand-breaded fish, including cod, lake perch, blue gill, grouper, catfish, or jumbo shrimp. Each fish fry comes with fries, coleslaw, rye bread, tartar sauce, and a lemon wedge. Guests can upgrade their sides by substituting fries for a baked potato, potato pancakes, or German potato salad. We recommend making reservations in advance to ensure a seamless dining experience. Alternatively, guests can pre-order their fish fry for drive-through pick-up. Starting February 14th and continuing throughout the Lenten season, Kegel’s Inn drive-through hours are Wednesdays from 4-8 p.m. and Fridays from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Swingin’ Door Exchange

For those craving a more laid-back atmosphere, Swingin’ Door is the place to be. This old-school “Saloon & Eatery” has a unique, vintage ambiance making it the perfect spot to unwind after a long week. Every Friday starting at 11 a.m. Swingin’ Door offers any array of options including cod, lake perch or a combo fry that includes cod, perch and shrimp. Each fish fry is served with marble rye, coleslaw, tartar sauce and your choice of side.

Newsroom Pub

Find the Newsroom Pub just off Water St., directly across from the historic Pabst Theatre and Milwaukee Repertory Theater in Milwaukee’s entertainment district. This lively neighborhood bar exudes 19th-century charm and rich history, serving as the esteemed headquarters of the Milwaukee Press Club. Step inside the Newsroom to encounter the Milwaukee Press Club’s renowned collection of signature plaques, featuring luminaries from celebrities and U.S. Presidents to comedians and esteemed journalists. On Fridays, stop by for beer-battered cod served alongside fries, coleslaw and tartar sauce.


Located in the heart of East Town, SportClub offers an exciting atmosphere perfect for cheering on your favorite sports team. Fridays from 11 a.m. onwards SportClub serves beer butter battered cod with house-made coleslaw, tartar sauce, rye bread and your choice of potato pancakes or fries. Dive into the excitement of March Madness while enjoying a satisfying lunch and catching your favorite team on the big screen at SportClub.

As you savor a Wisconsin Friday Fish Fry, you’re not just enjoying a meal- you’re participating in a time-honored tradition that brings communities together. From bustling cities to quaint towns, local businesses across Wisconsin take pride in serving up this beloved dish, ensuring that the tradition lives on. So, the next time you find yourself in Downtown Milwaukee on a Friday evening, be sure to seek out one of these local gems.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *