Pittsburgh’s favorite season: Fish Fry

Nothing better than fried cod on a Friday

Fish Fry season is quickly approaching! As someone who grew up in Pittsburgh, I’ve always associated the time between winter and spring with homemade fried dinners in churches or fire halls. I left Pittsburgh for Washington, DC, for college and when the first Lent approached, I surprisingly learned my new friends had never heard of a fish fry. Imagine my shock when I had to explain pierogis to some of them. My favorite description: it’s like an empanada but the outside is noodle and it’s filled with mashed potato.

Polish dumpling or European empanada?
Fish Fry at St. Winifred’s in the olden days (about 20 years ago)

That was the first time I realized fish fries are a uniquely cherished tradition in western Pennsylvania. Fish fries originated because of Lent, a holy season during which Catholics abstain from eating meat on Fridays. But today, Pittsburghers of all faiths readily participate in the tradition, which often acts as a fundraiser for churches and local fire departments. Identity and food are intertwined in Pittsburgh—the city is synonymous with pierogis, haluski, wedding cookies (and wedding cookie tables,) fries on salads, and of course, fish fries. Pittsburgh food brings people together in a way that’s above and beyond many other cities.

Given the history and cult-like following, there’s no shortage of places to get fish from during Lent each year. There’s even a cool interactive map that tracks fish fries in the region, from Downtown to Johnstown. If you’re not looking to travel far, there are plenty of places in Mt. Lebanon to get battered cod, hush puppies or haluski (my personal favorite.) Keep reading to find out which churches and restaurants are serving fish in just a few weeks.

St. Michael the Archangel Parish

When: Fridays, February 16 – March 22 for lunch 11:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. & dinner 4:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.

Where: St. Bernard Church – Clairvaux Hall

311 Washington Road, Pittsburgh, PA 15216

Takeout (during dinner) and dine-in available. Cash and card accepted.

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church

When: February 23, March 8 and 22 from 4:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.

Where: St. Paul’s Episcopal Church

1066 Washington Road, Pittsburgh, PA 15228

Takeout and dine-in available. Cash and card accepted.

The Saloon

622 Washington Road, Pittsburgh, PA 15228

Bird on the Run (name might seem counter-intuitive, but they have great fish sandwiches too)

1573 McFarland Road, Pittsburgh, PA 15216


110 Beverly Road, Pittsburgh, PA 15216

Mitchell’s Fish Market

1500 Washington Road, Pittsburgh, PA 15228

Primanti Bros

1539 Washington Road, Pittsburgh, PA 15228

Want your Lebo restaurant or fish fry included in this list? Email me!

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