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Posted on Thu, Mar 10, 2011 : 11:20 a.m.

Who has the best Lenten fish fry? Your guide to fish dinners around town

By Edward Vielmetti

A fish fry, hosted at the social hall of a Catholic church or fraternal organization, is an area Lenten tradition. They are fundraisers and community gathering places with traditions that go back decades. Here's as much information as I could find about fish fry dinners in the area, with reviews when I could locate them.

In general, an organization that will host these dinners will hold them during six weeks of Lent on Fridays, excluding Good Friday; this year, that means that the typical organization will start on Friday, March 11 and continue through April 15. The Dexter Knights of Columbus got an early start this year and began on Feb. 25.

The list

Ann Arbor: St. Francis of Assisi, 2250 E. Stadium Blvd., between Packard and Washtenaw. 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Adults $8, seniors $7, kids 5-11 $5, under 5 free. Details in the March 6 St. Francis parish bulletin.

Augusta Township: St. Joseph Catholic Church, 9245 Whittaker Road, Ypsilanti, between Willis and Judd Road. Adults $8 for two pieces, or $9 all you can eat; kids mac and cheese $3; 5 and under free. Details in the Feb. 27 St. Joseph parish bulletin.

Chelsea: St. Mary's Parish Hall, 14200 E. Old US-12 between Main and Freer. 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Adults $10, seniors $9, kids 11 and under $5. Details in the March 6 St. Mary's parish bulletin.

Dexter: Knights of Columbus, 8265 Dexter Chelsea Road. 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Adults $10, kids $5, kids under 5 free. Drive-through takeout $9. Meals include fried shrimp, pan-fried fish, baked fish and a salad bar and are all you can eat. A review of the 2010 fish fry from 20 minute garden: "It's kind of funny I suppose that Lent — a time traditionally associated with "giving up" something - also is the time of these fantastic, frequently all-you-can-eat dinners." The Dexter Patch has a preview.

Saline: St. Andrew the Apostle, 910 Austin Drive, off US-12 west of the Saline River. 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Adults $9, seniors $8, kids $5, kids under 5 free. Details in the March 6 St. Andrew's parish bulletin.

Whitmore Lake: Old St. Patrick's, 5671 Whitmore Lake Road, corner of Northfield-Church Road and Whitmore Lake Road just about one mile south of North Territorial. 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Adults $7.50, seniors $7, kids 5-11 $6.50, kids 4 and under free. Details in the March 6 Old St. Patrick's parish bulletin.

Ypsilanti: St. John the Baptist, 411 Florence St., one block north of West Cross between Hamilton and Ballard. 5:30 p.m to 7 p.m. Adults $6.50 for one piece fish plus mac and cheese, additional pieces $1 each; kids mac and cheese $3.50. Details in the March 6 St. John the Baptist parish bulletin.

Ypsilanti: Emmanuel Lutheran Church, 201 N. River St., two blocks north of Michigan Avenue and two blocks south of Depot Town. Wednesday, March 23 at 5:30 p.m. Details in the March Emmanuel Lutheran calendar. Served with the help of Boy Scout Troop 290.

The map

View Ann Arbor area Lenten fish fry in a larger map

The recipe

Drake's Crispy Fry Mix, is a mix made by the Drake's Batter Mix company of Marshall, Mich. Marshall is about 65 miles west of Ann Arbor along I-94, and as you get closer to it, you'll start to see billboards. The box has a distinctive bird logo, and the products are sold in local retail stores in addition to being widely distributed wholesale to food service establishments and available for Internet order through retailers like Meijer.

The recipe that Drake's provides for Drake's Breaded Cod Nuggets is clearly aimed at the restaurant business, because you are unlikely to have 35 pounds of liquid fry shortening waiting in your kitchen.

Without giving the whole story of how to fry fish, the secret in this recipe preparation is to use Sprite soda pop as the liquid for the mix. Why? It should add some sweetness, which will make the fish brown up well; it's probably also a lot more readily available in restaurants which have an endless supply of pop for sale but not so much in the way of actual ingredients in their fry kitchen.

Jiffy Mix, from the Chelsea Milling Co. in Chelsea, also has recipes for fry mix batters on their website. They offer two suggestions, one based on their buttermilk pancake mix, and a second based on their baking mix plus an egg.

The poll

What's your favorite fish fry? I'm using polling software from All Our Ideas which lets you add your own suggestions if the poll doesn't have all of your favorites.

Edward Vielmetti celebrates religious feast days for Contact him at



Mon, Mar 14, 2011 : 3:36 p.m.

Ed too bad this was your last blog entry at, you will be missed!


Mon, Mar 14, 2011 : 8:19 a.m.

Newstart; the point of paying the $9 dollars is that it includes a donation to the Catholic ministries. Enjoy meals at home in solitary, I'd rather give back and enjoy some cheap fish with fellow Catholics.

Jim Pryce

Fri, Mar 11, 2011 : 11:34 p.m.

I'm a Catholic who doesn't like Fish or the Lenten season. I wait for midnight & have my normal meal. In the words of Homer Simpson " Ah Burger " . If I can't hold out til midnight, I'll do waffles, pancakes, or macaroni.


Fri, Mar 11, 2011 : 12:42 p.m.

One question that might be ridiculous to ask, but are these pop-up overnight church feeds, required any licensing to serve to the masses. The regular restaurants are heavily regulated for food safety. Just wondering what regulations and or inspections these places need, to provide these services?


Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 1:17 p.m.

Seems to me the church kitchens are probably cleaner than any restaurant you will find. They don't just cook food during Lent, they are used all year round for events and social gatherings. Those ladies know how to cook!

dading dont delete me bro

Fri, Mar 11, 2011 : 5:01 p.m.

yes, the kitchens are regulated and inspected by health department.


Fri, Mar 11, 2011 : 2:30 p.m.

I can't cite the exact regulations to you, but I volunteered at a fish fry for a few years and know you have to get a permit to cook and serve people food. An inspector does come to make sure the kitchen is appropriate and whatnot. This is purely anecdotal but it also seems like a lot of the Catholic parishes that have fish frys also have schools, which would lead me to believe their kitchen and food prep is already fairly well regulated/permitted since they use it regularly to feed students (That is, if you think food safety is adequately regulated in the first place.).


Fri, Mar 11, 2011 : 8:54 a.m.

Oh the pain! Memories of the Cracked Crab in downtown A2 overwhelm me at these times! Yes, beer batter deep fried fish with a big pile of fries (at modest cost) with a side of slaw was the best ever at the Cracked Crab. Nicer touch: a big glass of Bloody Mary beats the soda pop provided at church fish fries. Cracked Crab also served Dungeness Crab which rivaled any found on Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco. Well, maybe I'll settle for the fish and chips on the Real Seafood Company's lunch menu tomorrow.


Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 1:14 p.m.

Ahh.....remember the infamous crabwich with the little legs hanging out of the bun. Yum yum!

Boo Radley

Fri, Mar 11, 2011 : 2 p.m.

You are right about the memories .... I really miss the Cracked Crab myself.


Fri, Mar 11, 2011 : 2:43 a.m.

I can't believe there isn't a pub on the list. Begs the old questin though of what kind of meat a priest eats on Friday.


Thu, Mar 10, 2011 : 8:01 p.m.

I went to one of these church events last year...that's why I know. Another alternative is to get a fillet of fish at the fast food joint....the quality is no worse. Maybe there is a real restaurant out there with real plates and flatware with a fish dinner.


Thu, Mar 10, 2011 : 8:21 p.m.

Yawn ... Then do not go - but the fish fry at St. Mary's in Chelsea is way better than a fillet o' fish in my opinion. Is it the paper plates, etc that you are complaining about or the food or maybe the price or that the church is involved? There are a number of restaurants in the area that you can get a fish dinner with real plates and flatware - you might even be able to find one for under $10.


Thu, Mar 10, 2011 : 7:54 p.m.

Paying $8 or $9 at a church and getting a paper plate,cheap cup and plastic flatware is not for me....I would rather eat dinner at the homeless shelter if I want to go THAT cheap!

dading dont delete me bro

Thu, Mar 10, 2011 : 6:09 p.m.

st.joseph catholic church whittaker rd ypsilanti/whittaker/willis(?) 3/11 thru 4/15 $8 for 2 piece $9 all you care to eat $3 mac n cheese children 5/under FREE choice of deep fried or oven baked alaskan pollakc, baked or scalloped potatoes, salad or cole slaw, dinner roll and beverage. large variety of desserts available for purchase. good old-fashoned beer battered fish fry...mmmmm

Edward Vielmetti

Thu, Mar 10, 2011 : 6:30 p.m.

Thanks @dading, I updated the list and the map.


Thu, Mar 10, 2011 : 6:03 p.m.

Drake's Crispy Frymix...the very best high quality Frymix in the business!