By Shereen Siewert
The votes are in, and more than 3,200 Wausau Pilot & Review readers cast ballots for their favorite Wausau-area fish fry, a true Wisconsin tradition that becomes even more popular during the Lenten season.
It’s safe to say, you’re pretty passionate about your fish fries, and we thank you all for weighing in!
Each of these locations is worthy of attention, featuring outstanding food at reasonable prices with scrumptious sides. Of course, there are many other fantastic options to satisfy your Friday fish craving — from church basements to hidden gems tucked in smaller communities and even in the countryside. This is, after all, fish fry country.
Here are our reader’s recommendations for the top 10 fish fries in the Wausau area. Please note, prices and specific menu items are subject to change.
1. Loading Zone
157024 E. Hamilton St., Wausau
Friday fish features: Choose from a 2-piece ($8.50), 3-piece ($11.25) or 4-piece ($14) freshly battered or baked with butter and special seasonings. Or, choose 4 battered perch fillets for $11.50. There’s plenty on the menu for non-fish eaters, too, from steaks to sandwiches and more. They’ve been serving food for more than 45 years, so it’s safe to say they’ve got it down to a science.
2. Trail’s End Lodge
3901 Sherman Road, Wausau
Set on the shores of the Little Rib River, Trail’s End is open all week long, but food service is limited to Tuesday through Sunday, with fish fries on Wednesdays and Fridays. Mark and Daphne Brummond have worked hard to build their business, and their effort is paying off in rave reviews from customers.
Friday fish features: Beer battered haddock (2-pc. for $9.50m 3-pc. for $10.75, 4-pc. for $12), beer battered lake perch ($11), beer battered walleye ($11.75) or the combo, which includes 1 piece of haddock, 3 jumbo shrimp and 3 lake perch. Each meal includes coleslaw, rye bread and choice of french fries, baked potato, potato salad or German potato salad. Or, try the house specialty: Finnish baked haddock: a 3-piece baked dinner topped with a rich dill and Parmesan cream sauce for $13.25. The 4-piece option is $15.25.
Trail’s end also has poor man’s lobster, pan fried walleye, popcorn shrimp, jumbo shrimp, shrimp scampi and some of the tastiest fish tacos in town on Fridays, with carry-out orders available. They serve fish fries on Wednesdays, too.
Insider tip: Trail’s End is even better in the summer, with an expansive back deck and frequent live music on Sunday afternoons.
3. Hiawatha Restaurant & Lounge
713 Grant St., Wausau
Friday fish features: Choose from 2-piece ($10) or 3-piece ($12) beer battered Atlantic cod or baked cod in butter and house seasoning. They also feature a Walleye fillet for $14, a fish and shrimp combo for $20 and juicy jumbo Gulf shrimp (deep fried, grilled Italian, grilled Cajun or charbroiled) for $22, all with your choice of sides. Their New England Clam Chowder is a great option, too, either by itself or added to your meal.
Tip: Hiawatha has a lovely outdoor dining space (and we can’t wait until it’s warm enough to enjoy it!)
4. Carmelo’s Italian Restaurant
3607 North Mountain Road, Wausau
Sure, this family-owned restaurant is best known for its Italian fare, but the pan fried haddock ($11.75 on Fridays) is a perennial favorite and an alternative to beer battered favorites found elsewhere. Choose from a baked potato, spaghetti, fettuccine Alfredo or gold rush potatoes. Served with cole slaw, but salad is available for an additional charge.
Carmelo’s also serves a fish fry that includes soup or salad on Wednesdays for $13.75. Reservations are accepted on Wednesdays but not on Fridays.
And, by the way, their homemade cheesecake is the stuff dreams are made of.
5. The Palms
5912 Bus. Hwy. 51, Schofield
If you haven’t been to The Palms lately, you’ll be pleasantly surprised when you walk through the door of this 1930s classic supper club with the area’s only commercial charcoal grill and a newly renovated interior.
During Lent, The Palms is fearturing Wednesday and Friday fish specials with a 2-piece ($11.50) or 3-piece ($13.50) beer battered cod, or cod and shrimp combo with 2 pieces of cod and 3 jumbo shrimp for $18. Each comes with coleslaw, freshly baked bread and fries. Beer battered perch is also an option for $15, and is hands down one of the flakiest and most delicious perch dishes we’ve tasted.
Fish and shrimp tacos are always on the menu, and along with their daily French Onion soup, The Palms features New England Clam Chowder each Friday as well.
While you’re there, check out the local artwork featured on every wall. Truly inspiring.
6. Trailside Sports Bar & Grill
8101 Schofield Ave., Weston
Friday fish features: Beer battered haddock ($8.99 to $10.99), Cajun catfish ($9.49 to $12.99), beer battered fresh lake perch ($12.99), Canadian walleye ($12.99), grilled salmon ($14.99), jumbo shrimp ($12.99( and garlic sriracha shrimp ($13.29) give diners plenty of choices on Friday nights. Fish fries are served with homemade tartar sauce, coleslaw, lemon wedges and rye bread. Diners also have a choice of french fries, baked potato or homemade potato salad, or upgrade to waffle fries or sweet potato fries for $1 extra.
The salmon is served over a bed of lettuce and your choice of cucumber dill or teriyaki glaze and is absolutely fabulous. You simply cannot go wrong at Trailside.
7. Bunker’s Bar & Grill
1001 Golf Club Road, Wausau
Just a few years ago, Bunker’s at Tribute Golf Course used to be the American Legion clubhouse. Since then, it’s been transformed into a lively bar and restaurant that’s popular for singles, couples and families.
Friday features: Beer battered or lightly breaded cod, 1/2 pound ($11) or 3/4 pound ($13) with the option of Cajun for an extra hit of flavor. White wine baked fish, plain or Cajun, served with drawn butter is also available, 1/2 pound for $11 or 3/4 pounds for $13. The walleye is pecan crusted and pan fried, topped with a bourbon brown sugar butter for $18, while the perch ($14) and bluegill ($13) are both lightly breaded or deep fried and served with house tartar.
During Lent, Bunkers will also serve cod options on Wednesdays. Be sure to save room for dessert — the carrot cake is about the size of Texas and is one of the best we’ve ever had.
8. Day’s Bowl A Dome
1715 Stewart Ave., Wausau
Friday features: Perch dinner, deep fried to golden perfection ($12.49); Haddock dinner either deep fried or seasoned and baked, with a 2-piece dinner for $9.49, 3-piece dinner $11.49 and 4-piece for $13.49. The walleye is also a great option, with two deep fried fillets for $12.99 including sides.
9. Denmar Tavern
601 W. Thomas St., Wausau
Denmar is a family-friendly bar with homemade soups and our personal favorite, deep fried green beans. Yes, really.
Friday features: 2-piece ($8.75), 3-piece ($10.50) haddock baked or fried; 7-piece shrimp $10.75) also baked or fried; 2-piece walleye for $11.50, 5-6 oz. of perch for $11.75, all served with coleslaw, rye bread and choice of potato. They also feature fish tacos ($9.75), shrimp tacos ($10.50) or a fish sandwich for $7.25 to round out their Friday menu.
10. Neuske’s at Gulliver’s Landing
1701 Mallard Ln., Wausau
Gulliver’s Landing overlooks Lake Wausau and features a variety of seafood, steaks and pastas in a nautically-inspired atmosphere.
Readers say their fish and seafood options are among the best in the state, hands down.
According to their EatStreet delivery menu, Gulliver’s features scallops, shrimp, cold water lobster, Alaskan sockeye salmon, Canadian walleye and jumbo crab legs.
The Friday night fish fry options are 2-piece ($10) or 3-piece ($11) fried haddock, or add a dollar for the baked option. But with so many non-meat options, there’s something to please just about anyone.
Thanks for voting, readers, and watch for a new poll soon!