File photo, fried fish
Lent is a time of reflection and sacrifice for Catholics and other Christians, and for many, it entails abstaining from meat on Fridays.
Because Cincinnati has such deep German and Irish Catholic roots (ask anyone on the West Side for a landmark, and they're sure to mention the local Catholic parish), there are also many options for the Lenten favorite fish fry. Each is a little different, reflecting the community in which it is held.
Here are nine fish fries for you to try this season.
Insiders can read about fish fries in Greater Cincinnati where you can get everything from fried cod to salmon croquettes during Lent.
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The beer-battered deep-fried haddock filet fish sandwich at Bridgetown Finer Meats. Provided.
Bridgetown Finer Meats: The granddaddy of all fish fries isn't based in a church but in a strip mall in Bridgetown. The fish fillet is gigantic, overwhelming the bread (which is a good bread-to-fish ratio, if you ask me). This fish fry serves a nice selection of sides as well. It's a not-so-well-kept secret, so get there early. 6135 Bridgetown Road. www.bridgetownfinermeats.com
Immaculate Heart of Mary (Burlington): This is your traditional, school gym-based fish fry, with a twist. The Men's Club, which runs the fish fry, focuses on just a few items, breaded fish and shrimp and baked fish, but the real standout is the fish sandwich, the Tommy Boy. Imagine a grilled cheese sandwich, made with dark, soft rye bread and slathered with horseradish, with a fried fish fillet in the center! It's different and delicious (and pretty indulgent for a Lenten item). 5876 Veterans Way. ihm-ky.org
Prince of Peace School (Covington): Hand-battered fish and shrimp, homemade macaroni and cheese, craft beer and live bands -- what's not to like? There's a special children's menu, and if you're not into fish but are still abstaining from meat, Prince of Peace also serves grilled cheese and tomato soup. 625 Pike St. www.popcov.com
All Saints Catholic Church (Kenwood): All Saints has traditional fried cod but also specializes in slightly healthier items such as grilled salmon and tilapia. You also will find a unique item: fish tacos in soft flour tortillas, topped with all of your favorite taco fixings. 8939 Montgomery Road. allsaints.cc
Nativity School (Pleasant Ridge): Breaded haddock? Check. Intriguing sides such as sweet potato fries, horseradish-laced coleslaw and a good helping of MadTree beer? Check. Macaroni and cheese to die for? Check and check. Nativity School has all of the fixings that make a great fish fry. 5936 Ridge Road. www.nativity-cincinnati.org
Old St. Mary's Church (Over-the-Rhine): Available only on the day of the Bockfest Parade, you can have a fried fish sandwich in hand as you watch the highly amusing procession in front of one of the oldest churches in Cincinnati. Plus, it always has a bake sale, so you can get your sweet fix (if you haven't given up sweets for Lent). 123 E. 13th St. www.oldstmarys.org
St. Susanna Catholic Church (Mason): Did you grow up with salmon croquettes for Lent? If you want to relive your childhood, St. Susanna offers salmon cakes, along with salmon fillets, fried cod and shrimp. It also has jambalaya as a special for three weeks! Each dish includes two sides and a beverage -- it's a great deal that benefits St. Susanna School. 616 Reading Road, Mason. www.stsusanna.org
St. William Parish (Price Hill): There's only one place you can get "MagnifiCOD" and it's St. William Parish. Its fish fry combines fried cod, fried shrimp, baked tilapia and salmon and other goodies with weekly entertainment from the community. St. William has historically had a rich music program, and it teams up with alumni, parishioners and nearby Seton and Elder high schools to entertain visitors as they eat and drink. Bonus: It has hush puppies! 4108 W. Eighth St. www.saintwilliam.com
Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church (Reading): While Cincinnati does fish fries well, few churches go out of the fried fish box. Sts. Peter and Paul, while respecting the fried fish tradition, has a unique additional menu item: New England-style clam chowder. Try some, and finish with homemade baked goods. 330 W. Vine St. ssppcatholic.church
What's your favorite fish fry? Tweet me at @winemedineme! We're always looking for new, delicious places for fish during Lent.