When it comes to winter comfort food, I’m hooked on fish and chips — an English dish that’s surprisingly easy to find in Kansas City.
Around here, most bars and restaurants that serve fish and chips make it by coating cod with beer batter, then frying the fillets until they’re crispy and golden brown. French fries (not potato chips) are the standard side, but some establishments mix it up with hush puppies or smashed potatoes.
Here are five local takes on fish and chips that will make you temporarily forget that you’re landlocked in KC. Go ahead, dive in.
With smashed potatoes
Mass St. Fish House & Raw Bar, a new seafood restaurant at 719 Massachusetts St. in Lawrence, is quickly becoming known for its wide selection of fresh, raw oysters. I have a feeling the Mass Fish & Chips ($12) is about to catch on, too. The dish features three strips of flaky white wild-caught Alaskan cod in a light-as-air coat of golden batter made with tempura and Free State Copperhead Pale Ale. The golden fish strips are served with Yukon Gold potatoes that have been roasted, smashed, fried until crispy and seasoned with salt and Old Bay seasoning. A grilled lemon and creamy tartar sauce made with smoked capers complete the $12 dish, which is served on a wooden plank.
With hush puppies
Sometimes you want a little something extra with your fish and chips. On those occasions, go to Hi-Dive Lounge, a bar at 1411 W. 39th St., for fish and chips ($14) served with fries and hush puppies, savory deep-fried balls of cornmeal batter that taste great with hot sauce or a little bit of Hi-Dive’s pesto-laced tartar sauce. The fries, which are served in a metal cup, are also amazing — crispy and golden with the perfect amount of salt and pepper. Try it with a $2.50 can of mystery beer from Hi-Dive’s vending machine, which dispenses yard beers such as Miller High Life Light, as well as craft selections such as Nebraska Pils from Nebraska Brewing Company.
With potato chips
Llywelyn’s Pub, a St. Louis-based chain with locations at 6995 W. 151st St. in Overland Park and 301 S.E. Douglas St. in Lee’s Summit, brings the flavors of the U.K. to Kansas City via shepherd’s pie, bangers and mash and, of course, fish and chips. The latter costs $13.75 and comes with the customer’s choice of fries or house-made Welsh potato chips. When I dined at the Overland Park location recently, I opted for the chips, which arrived hot and crunchy underneath two thick slabs of cod enveloped in thick layers of brown batter made with Pabst Blue Ribbon beer. Not into chips? Llywelyn’s also serves pub fries, skinny fries, tater tots and sweet potato waffle fries.
In a bucket
If you want to split fish and chips with a friend, I recommend ordering the entree at McCoy’s Public House, 4057 Pennsylvania. The $14 meal is so big that it’s served in a galvanized metal bucket. Picture a layer of soft, stubby fries topped with a trio of fried South American hake fillets. The white, flaky fish is fried in a batter that’s made fresh daily using various beers brewed in-house. It’s lightened up with lemon wedges, a bright basil tartar sauce and creamy cider slaw. I like it with one of the brewpub’s lighter beers, such as Brite Lager, a European-style lager that’s crisp and refreshing.
If you’re craving fish and potatoes in the morning (that really happened to me recently), head to the Lutfi’s Fried Fish at 3037 Main St., which serves breakfast starting at 8 a.m. daily. The morning menu features chicken and waffles, fish omelets and a plate of fried tilapia with hunks of golden breakfast potatoes, eggs and toast. The thin tilapia fillets, coated with lightly crunchy corn flour, are heaven with a healthy drizzle of Lutfi’s bright red hot sauce. And at $7.99, the satisfying meal might be the best catch of the day.