Sometimes instead of the typical fast-food burger or chicken nuggets, I crave a different type of drive-thru meal. That’s why I embarked on a mission to find the best fast-food fish sandwich.
If you don’t eat meat or are choosing to forgo meat during Lent, this list will help you find the most delicious fish sandwich that can be delivered right to your car window. Each sandwich was sampled and ranked based on the fish fillet, the bun and the toppings.
7. McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish
This is the original fast-food fish sandwich that debuted at an Ohio McDonald’s back in 1959. Apparently, Ray Kroc was skeptical that this new sandwich concept would work, but it turned out to be a big hit. The Filet-O-Fish has been a staple on the menu ever since.
Unfortunately, even though it is the original, it wasn’t the best one we tasted on this drive-thru journey. The fish had a mass-produced feel, and we weren’t a fan of the slice of cheese added to the sandwich. However, at $4.49 it was one of the least expensive fish sandwiches we sampled. It is also always available on the menu, while other sandwiches tend to come and go seasonally. If you want the old school classic for a great price, the McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish fits the bill.
6. White Castle Fish Slider
The Fish Slider from White Castle ranked next on our list. It also came in at a budget-friendly $3.09 but, of course, it is a slider sized sandwich, rather than a full size. One thing we came to realize on this sandwich tasting journey was that we tend to prefer fish sandwiches without cheese added as a topping. We liked that these sandwiches come with the option of cheese or no cheese.
At White Castle, they also include the tartar sauce (a must when it comes to fish sandwich toppings) as a packet on the side. This was nice because we could then add as much or as little as we wanted to the sandwich, rather than it arriving in one big glob inside the bun. Overall, the fish sandwich slider was a bit unremarkable, but we are glad it’s on the White Castle menu as an option for fast-food fish during Lent.
5. Burger King Big Fish
The Big Fish from Burger King is described as “100% White Alaskan Pollock with crispy panko breading, sweet tartar sauce and crunchy pickles on a toasted brioche-style bun.” While this description sounds quite mouth-watering and fresh tasting, the reality arrived with more of an assembly line feel. The price was an affordable $4.99 though, and this was the only fish sandwich we sampled that had pickle slices added as a topping. The pickles were a welcome addition and offered an additional crunch to the sandwich.
4. Arby’s Crispy Fish Sandwich
As die hard fans of the roast beef sandwich and curly fries, that tends to be our standard order at Arby’s. We switched things up this time, though, and the Crispy Fish Sandwich from Arby’s was a surprise hit on our drive-thru adventure. The fish fillet was more substantial in size than the previous sandwiches and tasted much fresher. The lettuce added a pleasant crunch and the tartar sauce was well distributed.
This was the only sandwich that arrived on a sesame seed bun, which was also a nice choice. At $4.49, it won’t break the bank, with a quality better than other sandwiches in the same price range. This sandwich was delicious enough for us to change things up and order the crispy fish sandwich again in the future.
Portillo’s touts their fish sandwich as a wild caught, breaded haddock fillet served on a brioche bun. This delicious sandwich ranked high on so many fronts for us. The fish fillet was substantial, incredibly crisp and fantastically fresh. The bun was a huge standout here—it was actually our highest ranking bun out of all the sandwiches we tasted. It was subtly sweet and tender, and it practically glistened when we opened up the box to take that first bite. The lettuce added even more crunch and didn’t feel wilted from sitting under a heat lamp. This sandwich does come with a slice of American cheese, which isn’t among our preferred toppings, but that can easily be remedied with a custom order next time.
We certainly recommend trying the Portillo’s fish sandwich next time you pull up to their drive-thru window. At $6.99 it was a more expensive fish sandwich, but well worth the extra cost.
2. Culver’s North Atlantic Cod Fish Sandwich
It’s practically impossible to beat Culver’s when it comes to fish sandwiches. Inspired by a Midwest Friday night fish fry, Culver’s is somehow able to achieve what no other drive-thru has accomplished. They offer fast-food fish sandwiches that taste like they have been prepared at a Wisconsin supper club.
The North Atlantic Cod Fish Sandwich is made with fish that has been hand cut, hand battered and cooked to order. The filet is served on a toasted and buttered hoagie roll with house specialty tartar sauce, shredded lettuce and shredded Wisconsin cheddar cheese. While it’s no secret that we prefer fish sandwiches without cheese, the light touch of the shredded cheese here was much better than the slices of American cheese on other restaurant offerings. This sandwich is outstanding, and we are glad it is a year-round staple on the Culver’s menu for $6.09. In fact, there is only one sandwich that can beat it…
1. Culver’s Northwoods Walleye Fish Sandwich
Nothing can top Culver’s except Culver’s itself. If you think the North Atlantic Cod is good, wait until you try the Northwoods Walleye Fish Sandwich. This menu item is only available certain times of year when walleye is in season. The mild and tender Northwoods Walleye comes from crystal clear Canadian waters, and each filet is hand battered, then cooked to order.
This sandwich is also served on a lightly buttered and toasted roll, with the signature tartar sauce and crisp shredded lettuce. No cheese on the walleye sandwich! In the end, you can’t go wrong with either fish sandwich from Culver’s. If you are someone who likes a more mild ocean fish, we recommend the cod, but if you love the fresh-from-the-lake taste of bluegill or catfish, the walleye will be right up your alley. The price for the seasonal walleye is $7.59 and worth every penny.