Fish Fry Fridays

It's Lent, which means Fridays in Cincinnati are officially Fish Fry Fridays.

click to enlarge Izzy's Codfather Lenten special - Izzy's
Izzy's Codfather Lenten special

Many years ago, I was a young Catholic girl content with the mundane functions of her daily life — school, hanging out with friends and attending Sunday mass. Then, once a year, it would all come crashing down around me. One word: Lent. I could handle giving up candy for 40 days, but to force me to ingest fish each and every Friday added insult to injury.

For those not in the know, Lent is the time between Ash Wednesday and Easter spent in religious observance preparing for the resurrection of Christ. It's a time to reflect, repent, fast and engage in some Americanized self-denial — like giving up Coke products or chocolate. It's also a time when people abstain from eating meat on Fridays — fish good; red meat bad.

Once the weekend hit, my family would join the loyal caravan of Catholics in the McDonald’s drive thru for the coveted Filet-o-fish. Take my word for it, nothing makes one feel more in tuned with the Holy Spirit than the mystery and mystique of fast food fish. Whether you’re Catholic or just want to consume heaps of beer-battered cod and mac and cheese on the Fridays leading up to Easter, please — for the children — forgo the drive thru and opt for one of the many local fish fries offered this year at local churches and parishes and other locations, who are all serving up fried fish dinners.

Here are some of our favorites.

Bockfest Fish Fry at Old St. Mary’s: The fifth-annual Old St. Mary's Bockfest fish fry will be held along the Bockfest parade route and feature sandwiches, sides and drinks. 5 p.m. until it's gone March 3. Old St. Mary's, 123 E. 13th St., Over-the-Rhine,

Bridgetown Finer Meats: Home of Fabulous Fish Friday and a bigger-than-the-bread giant fish sandwich. Menu also includes lobster bisque, lobster mac and cheese, Big John's shrimp boat, famous green beans, homemade tartar sauce and coleslaw. 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Fridays through Easter. Bridgetown Finer Meats, 6135 Bridgetown Road, Bridgetown,

All Saints Church: Go for the fish tacos and stay for the beer. Fried cod, grilled salmon or tilapia, fish tacos, pizza, fries (sweet potato available) coleslaw, baked potatoes, mac and cheese. And to finish it off: Beer and wine. My mouth is watering. 3 p.m. March 3, 10, 17, 24, 31 and April 7. All Saints Church, 8939 Montgomery Road, Kenwood,

Immaculate Heart of Mary: Home of the Tommy Boy, fried cod stuffed into a grilled cheese sandwich for only $6. Everything on the menu is handmade, including the crab cakes, mac and cheese and coleslaw. Drive-in opens at 4:30 p.m. Dine-in dinner starts at 5 p.m. Fridays during Lent. Immaculate Heart of Mary, 5876 Veterans Way, Burlington, Ky.,

Izzy's: The Codfather returns to Izzy's locations during Lent. The special sandwich features a tavern-cut North Atlantic cod filet, battered with Izzy’s special blend of 17 seasonings and spices, on a Kaiser bun garnished with lettuce and tartar sauce. Available during Lent. Multiple locations including 610 Main St., Downtown,

Lehr's Prime Market: Every Friday during Lent, Milford's Lehr's meat market hosts a fish fry featuring a haddock sandwich basket (beer-battered haddock no marble rye with tartar sauce), shrimp basket (jumbo shrimp with hushpuppies) and a la carte options including hushpuppies, mac and cheese and extra tartar sauce. Take home or dine in. 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Fridays during Lent. $10 baskets. Lehr's Prime Market, 740 Main St., Milford,

Mary, Queen of Heaven (aka home of the Codfather): Offered every Friday in March and the first Friday in April, Mary, Queen of Heaven boasts a huge menu of fried Icelandic cod including their signature Holy Haddock sandwich. Sides offered include fries, mac and cheese, coleslaw, green beans and more. And the namesake Codfather, aka John Geisen, the CEO of Izzy’s, dresses in Mafioso gear and carries a huge stuffed cod around the fry for cherished photo ops. 4-8 p.m. Fridays. Mary, Queen of Heaven, 1150 Donaldson Highway, Erlanger, Ky.,

Saint Cecilia: Looking for some adult fun? Celebrate St. Patrick's Day and get snacking on some all you can eat fish, fries, beans and slaw. Enjoy three drink tickets while playing games of chance as well as NCAA-themed games. Must be 21 to enter. 5:30 p.m.-midnight. March 17. $17 advance; $20 at the door. St. Cecilia School Gymnasium, 4115 Taylor Ave., Oakley,

Saint Francis Seraph Church: Join in the Bockfest celebration with a fish fry at the Christian Moerlein Malt House Taproom. Grab a craft beer and boogie to Todd Hepburn, a local blues musician, throughout the event. Other fish fries will be held throughout March. 5:30-7:30 p.m. March 3. March 10, 17, 24, 31 and April 7. 1621 Moore St., Over-the-Rhine,

Saint Mary Hyde Park Church: Munch on fish, french fries, pizza, salad and more. Stay after and watch some hoops for a March Madness viewing party ‘till midnight. 5-7 p.m. March 24. St. Mary Hyde Park Church, 2853 Erie Ave., Hyde Park,

Saint William Parish: Put a sandwich called the “magnificod” on the menu and I’m intrigued. Get the famous hand-breaded “magnificod,” or choose from a selection of tavern breaded fish, tilapia, salmon, shrimp, crab cakes, grilled cheese, cheese pizza, french fries, hush puppies, macaroni and cheese, tossed salad and homemade soup of the week. Beverages will also be available. For carry-out or dine in. Drive thru 4-7 p.m.; Dine in 4:30-7:30 p.m. March 3, 10, 17, 24, 31 and April 7. St. William Parish, 4108 W. Eighth St., Price Hill,

For a full list of events, check out the Catholic Telegraph Fish Fry Guide here.

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