With a fully stocked larder of freshly caught seafood available, it’s no surprise that BC is a tartar-slathered hotbed of great fish and chips. But while you don’t have to search too hard here for satisfying servings of this ultimate golden-fried comfort dish, some eateries are worth making a pilgrimage for. Read on for our finger-licking menu of top fish and chips spots around the province. Each is a short hop from the ferry terminal: just follow the aromas of sizzling fries and malt vinegar.
Dick’s Fish & Chips (Campbell River)
Campbell Riverites flock to Dick’s for heaping platters of hand-cut fries and crisply battered cod, salmon and halibut. Although more than 100 pounds of fish can be prepared here daily, it’s not just about mouthwatering food at this gable-roofed local legend. “The secret is the atmosphere and our friendly servers—that’s why people come back,” says manager Rose Fowlow. Prawns and oysters also help, while bright green mushy peas have a cult-like following too. The common condiment? “Everything is made with love,” says Fowlow.
Red Fish Blue Fish (Victoria)
On the wooden boardwalk fringing Victoria’s Inner Harbour, this re-purposed shipping container takeout stand attracts long summer lineups. But it’s always worth the wait. “We use a tempura-style batter, which is thinner and crispier than traditional batters,” says co-owner Libby Gibson. “We also use twice-fried BC Kennebec potatoes. Fish-wise, we serve local cod, halibut, salmon and even oysters — all Ocean Wise.” But, while fish and chips top the popularity stakes, in-the-know diners have several other favourites, from deep-fried pickles to grilled Albacore tuna. “During the cooler months we also serve a delicious Goan curry seafood chowder made with potatoes, masala spices and coconut milk,” says Gibson.
Red Fish Blue Fish is a popular stop along Victoria’s beautiful Inner Harbour. Photo by Rebecca Wellman Photography.
Dolly’s Fish Market (Prince Rupert)
Historic fishing hub Prince Rupert is swimming in seafood. But many locals beeline for red-painted Dolly’s to buy their fresh-catch or to hit the unpretentious dining room. “Our fish is straight off the boat, and it’s made with tempura batter or gluten-free batter or just pan-fried,” says owner Charmayne Carlson. Cod or halibut are the fish and chip options, but the extensive menu covers everything from chowder to seafood nachos. “We’re also famous for our halibut elite burger—halibut fillet stuffed with shrimp, crab, habanero jalapeno cheese and herb butter in a panko crust.”
Saturna Lighthouse Pub (Saturna Island)
Fish and chips are a pub grub staple, and this Saturna Island hot spot does it well. “A while back, the kitchen started working on the beer batter and they really nailed it,” says general manager Bob Fitzgerald. “The trick is not to make it too thick: less batter is better.” Near the ferry dock, visitors often hit the pub’s decks for some ales and breathtaking Navy Channel views while watching for their ferry to arrive. “If they order too late, we deliver it as takeout through their car window as they head to the boat!” says Fitzgerald.
Sherri’s Gas Bar & Grill (Haida Gwaii)
350 Eagle Avenue, Masset
Well-executed simplicity is the secret sauce at this Haida Gwaii gem, where an unassuming exterior opens into a woodsy, longhouse-style bistro. The element of surprise also applies to the menu, where seafood temptations include fish tacos served with house-made sauces. But halibut fish and chips remain a permanent favourite here. “The fries are crispy on the outside—giving them a nice crunch—and soft on the inside,” says chef and manager Bexley Quinn Kaeon. “And the halibut is as fresh as can be, from the sea to you, with a nice light batter.”
Smitty’s Oyster House (Gibsons)
Fish and chips can be reinvented—especially if you’re on the Sunshine Coast. A favourite in Gibsons, Smitty’s serves a cornucopia of gourmet seafood, from fresh bivalves to chili lime prawns. But when chefs at Smitty’s looked to utilize their smaller cod and halibut pieces, they created fish fritters: delicious batter-covered morsels served with fries. “It’s our top-selling item,” says chef Conor Lowe, adding that the reinvention isn’t just about size. “Fish and chips often get soggy, but these stay crispy with their light batter. There’s also a malt vinegar reduction in there so you get the vinegar kick as well.”
Find tasty fish fritters and fries at Smitty’s Oyster House in Gibsons.
The Fish Counter (Vancouver)
This shack-like hot spot on Vancouver’s Main Street is incredibly well-loved by locals. “The secret is quality ingredients,” says co-owner Mike McDermid, adding that all their fish is Ocean Wise and sustainable. “We also pride ourselves on having the lightest and crispiest batter. We even do a completely celiac-friendly, gluten-free batter in a dedicated fryer that’s unbelievable.” It can get a little noisy here, but dining between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. is quieter, McDermid says. And there are lots of other menu treats to try. “Our bouillabaisse is a traditional Marseille fish soup loaded with local fish and shellfish — and the Baja-style fish tacos are not to be missed!”
Diners in Vancouver are fans of the Fish Counter’s light and crispy batter. Photo courtesy The Fish Counter.
Visit bcferries.com to plan your quickest route to the freshest fish and chips.