Bloomington, IN

The Sandwich of Lent, Rating from 1-10 the best fish sandwich shops across Bloomington, Ind.

Braydyn The Bear Lents

With Easter coming up two weeks from today, I have asked myself throughout the time of Lent and before the start of Easter, “What is the best fish sandwich across the city of Bloomington, Ind.?”

Known as one of the best sports, bar, and food cultures across the United States, Bloomington has a major reputation for making some of the best fish sandwiches I have ever had.

As you will see on the list, there will be a lot of bars and grills mentioned on the list, and a few fast-food restaurants along with pubs and food chains are also included on this list.

Fish sandwiches have been a delicacy that makes the Lent Catholic feel so refreshing. I rated the fish based on my love of a crispy, lightly breaded, oh-so-fresh, deep-fried, and battered fish sandwich, and don’t forget about the french fries. Salted, pinched with seasoning, or some seasoned chips always make for a good side dish.

Here is a list of some of the best and worst fish sandwiches in Bloomington, Ind. First here are some of the worst fish sandwiches in town.

Before I begin, everyone is entitled to their own opinion about where they get their fish sandwiches, this is just my opinion, and if you do have another, even better or worse fish sandwich for me to try or eat, direct message me on Instagram and I would be happy to try a new fish I have never had before.

Here is the list of the best fish sandwiches in Bloomington.

10. Smokin Jack’s Rib Shack

Just like three other restaurants on this list, Smokin' Jack’s is not known for fish sandwiches, but when they sell their sandwich, it is one of the more lesser-known places to get a sandwich in Bloomington.

Their fries are good but when you eat the sandwich, you will be very impressed with how they cook and curate their fish, particularly their salmon fish which they prepare in-house.

Their buns are soft but the sandwich itself is perfect and golden brown.
Fish sandwich and fries at Smokin' Jacks Rib Shack.Photo byRestaurant Guru

9. Culver’s

In recent months, Culver’s sandwiches have been gross due to poor service and even poor staff management since the Laskowski family has moved on to greener pastures at other southern Indiana locations including their new location in Jasper, Ind.

It’s sad to see this decline, but their Alaskan cod fish is a whole lot better than their Walleye cod sandwiches.

During the Laskowski years, the sandwich was a must-have during the time of Lent. The cod was crisp, the texture you could never forget, and as you bit into the pipping hot fish sandwich… mmm… was it good or what?

Always get Alaskan the next time you see Coach Knight out at Culver’s, but hopefully, we can see the store improve because townies know that we cannot afford to lose a staple that took four years to build by one of the greatest sixth men to ever play IU basketball.
Culver's North American cod, tarter sauce, and french fries as seen in this photo.Photo byCulver's

8. Cloverleaf Family Restaurant

Boy, I should have ranked this restaurant higher on my list… geez.

Their fish is a must-have for anyone wanting to try good fish stripes and mac n cheese along with a peach cobbler as a dessert on a somewhat hot spring day in April.

This may not be a sandwich but they sell some really good fish that is piping hot and ready to go, but I would not recommend eating this on the go.

Fish stripes and mac n cheese at Cloverleaf.Photo

7. Lennie’s Brewpub

This pub has good fish but doesn’t rank as high as the five other bars listed on this list, but overall they have some great food in a comfortable environment.

Always go with one of their other items or beer collections because the bar is mainly known for other food besides fish, but it is a must-have.

6. BuffaLouie’s

I never would have anticipated a place that sells wings and fries could also sell fish and fries. The restaurant is comparable to Bub’s Burgers where their fish is not a main selling point, but when you try it, it is scrumptious.

I ranked them this low because their main selling point is burgers and chicken wings, and they are again not that known for fish sandwiches.

Now I think you have learned something today, try a fish sandwich for yourself at BuffaLouie’s and tell me what you think on my Instagram.

5. Nick’s English Hut

This a sandwich I wanted to try throughout my time at Indiana University, and this sandwich does not disappoint, as if I was going to rank bar fish sandwiches from 1-5, I would put this sandwich at four because of the fact the fish is a special item, and it’s crispy tangy grease is a must have when enjoying a beer or watching an IU sporting event.

Delicious sandwich all the way around.

4. Trojan Horse

I have had their fish once, and it was really good. Favorable at best, it should be at number three or two, but it was hard for me to describe. They add on onions and even tomatoes which can make for a great mix, almost like visiting the Stop N Sea fish shop in Montgomery, Ind. from back in the day.

It’s a perfect bar sandwich for those who are wanting to enjoy a good beer and great fish, at one of the best hole-in-the-wall bars in the entire city and yet it’s right near the IU Sample Gates as well. Their whole food selection is a must-grab when visiting Bloomington.

3. Big Woods

They have a comparable fish sandwich taste as Crazy Horse, but their chips were some of the best-seasoned fries I have ever tasted in my life.

I love their fish because the cod is as white as snow, cooked to perfection but their flavor comes from their brioche bun.

It’s juicy, juicy, but it will also enjoy eating your lunch up via Doja Cat.

2. The Irish Lion Restaurant & Pub

The first time I ever had Irish Lion, I was an intern at BLOOM Magazine in Bloomington, and as a company, five coworkers, the boss, and I ate at the Irish Lion Restaurant and Pub on a beautiful spring afternoon in 2022.

Being a young college sophomore, I didn’t think the desert was that great, even though I was basically “love bombed” by the company months later, this moment in the all-brass gold Irish bar and grill was one the few good moments working at this company.

I tried their traditional fish and chips, which my boss said was a must-have, and boy was I in for a surprise.

The fish was cooked perfectly. Golden brown with a pickle that was sweet but the sandwich was as delicious or better than Crazy Horse. I had to put them at number two because this sandwich is massive, and I love taking takeout orders home, but the moment later haunted me at the company.

Overall, the fish was delicious and I had more fries on my plate than I could eat in a week. Great crispy fried fish, and if you want to watch an IU game or listen to good Irish music, this is a must-go to for anyone visiting Bloomington.
Irish Lion fish and fries as seen in the photo served in-house at the pub.Photo byTripAdivsor

and before we go to the best fish sandwich in Bloomington, here are some honorable mentions.

- Red Lobster

This restaurant as a whole is very underrated, but their fish always comes out pipping hot and is always refreshing to eat.

- Btown Gyros

When moving to Bloomington, I never thought this place would sell fish sandwiches, but when biting into the cod fish, for a gyros place, this is SO good to try, and would highly recommend it for anyone that would like to try a new fish sandwich from somewhere else besides the major Bloomington chains and bars.

It’s a good sandwich with a soft bun, and I was deeply impressed, and it is still good even since I moved from a small town to Bloomington 15 years ago.

- Fat Dan’s Deli

In this small hole in the wall diner, I never knew this place had fish until I ate it with my grandfather one time, and I would say their fish is in between the best and the worst category, but their food, given how small the diner is, is one diner go-to replacement for replacing the already shutting down Steak n’ Shake and closed Denny’s.

Go there for the pancakes for sure, they are pretty good.

- The Butcher’s Block

This place is good for a few things, including steaks and pork, but their fish sandwich is average their fries are pretty good, and I think the place is pretty overpriced for a part of town that needs cheaper-cost restaurants with decent food.

Is a great place to get pizza though.

- Malibu Grill

I knew the owner’s son who went to high school with me at Bloomington South High School, and my family and I have never eaten here because of the price, but I have heard they cook some really good salmon fish and the best steak you could ever find.

Sorry if that is not much of a review, but I like your deserts though.

- Hinkle’s Hamburgers

Hinkle’s has a great fish combination but their main specialty is burgers, and it shows when you bite into their sandwich. Their fish tastes like a sandwich from Dairy Queen, which means it’s good… normal at best.

It is a great restaurant for other food such as burgers or anything meat.
Fish sandwich and fries at Crazy Horse.Photo byTripAdvisor

1. Crazy Horse

This sandwich is number one for a reason.

It’s the chips, it’s the sides, it’s the pickle, it’s the brioche bun.

It’s like heaven in your mouth biting into a succulent fish sandwich with the most perfect chips on the side, seasoned just right and made to order. I would highly recommend eating this sandwich while ordering on a delivery site such as Postmates or Uber Eats.

You can get some great deals for a fish sandwich combo on Postmates, and I have had this sandwich during every situation. From IU women’s basketball beating Michigan State in the 2023 Big Ten Championships to replacing a meat entry on Friday afternoons.

This is a perfect sandwich, made correctly, without much lettuce or tomatoes slapped on the sandwich, and is a great meal replacement for the most religious of Christians and Catholics.

You know the movie Moneyball, this sandwich is a home run knockout of the park.

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Student at Indiana University Bloomington, journalism major, Class of 2024, sports media minor, staff writer/journalist for Hoosiers Network, freelancer "It's called the American Dream cause you have to be asleep to believe it." -- George Carlin

Bloomington, IN

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