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Where to Find the Best Fish and Chips in Dallas

If you’re craving the comforts of this English classic, here’s where you can find the best renditions in North Texas.
| |Photography by Jeremy Sharp
The Londoner Rockwall
The Londoner in Rockwall, one of the pubs around North Texas where you can find fish and chips. Jeremy Sharp
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I’m not using the conventional dining-based marking system but borrowing instead from the English Premier League. That is to say, a 6/10 is average. Which means: did everything you asked of the player, didn’t excel, but didn’t do badly or make mistakes. A 7/10 is good, and it’s rare to give 8s and 9s. Almost no one ever gets a 10/10. Maradona World Cup-winning hat tricks and so on get 10/10s. So, Dallas, 6/10 is not bad. It’s a decent score. 

Nick Barclay 

10/10

Full marks in every respect. I have written 1,300 words about how Nick makes fish and chips, to help you replicate the dish in your home kitchen. The only improvement would be if Barclay was by the coast in the U.K. and getting cod off the boats.  

Cod: Icelandic. Flash frozen at sea. The fish had large, firm, white, juicy flakes, with both a characteristic lightness and substance. Fresh cod somehow evokes the sea. It feels real. It feels like an animal. Only Barclay’s fish had this quality of realness. 

Batter: light golden brown, thin, delicate, unseasoned, light but crisp, not overly puffy, not cakey. 

Chips: perfect size. Hand-cut in this instance from russets, blanched and double fried. Pale yellow but just catching color. Fluffy inside. 

Condiments: classic tartar with mayonnaise, chopped capers, cornichons, onions, chives, tarragon, parsley, lemon juice. Exactly as it should be. 

The Celt

7.2/10

The Celt scores highest as “best of the rest” for not being exceptional in any one area, but for offering the best overall fish and chips experience, combined with a lovely old building. 

Cod: flash frozen. Decent texture, flakes still discernible but not exceptional. Nice flavor and not overseasoned. 

Batter: a slightly breadcrumb-like texture, even though it wasn’t bread crumbs, but very agreeable. Two good-sized fillets, perhaps more than generous. Crisp, pleasant, not traditionally British, but I liked it. 

Chips: russets, thin cut as per standard U.S. french fries, perfectly nice, but not like U.K. chips. Optional sides: curry sauce. The only one to offer this. Recommended. 

TJ’s Seafood Market

7.1/10 

Marks deducted for messing with the batter and using extracurricular flours; marks added for fresh fish. It scored on fresh fish but didn’t capture the essence of fish and chips. Worth a visit. 

Cod: fresh. Served as a single fillet, which is a big plus. Texture was good but not as good as I’d have liked given it was fresh fish. Flavor likewise. Nice fish, but not U.K.-grade fresh cod. 

Batter: the most unique batter, and points for inventiveness and dedication. Made from cornstarch and all-purpose flour. Very crisp to the point of thin eggshell crisp. Not correct for a U.K. fish batter but interesting nonetheless. Some will like it. For me, a distraction. 

Chips: russets, fairly thin-chopped in house. Not U.K. chips but pleasant. 

Neighborhood Services 

7/10 

Scores on at least trying on the tartar, fresh fish, and single fillet. Good overall experience, dining room very lively. Enjoyable but technically inaccurate. 

Cod: fresh. Single fillet. 

Batter: it had the slightly cakey quality that many had, which usually means the presence of eggs. Fish batter is not Yorkshire pudding, let’s bear in mind. Either the batter, the fish, or both were a little oversalted, which was a minus once you were a few mouthfuls in. Fish and chips is all about the taste of the sea, about ultimate freshness.  

Chips: russets, thin-cut restaurant fries. Pleasant, a little too browned, too large a serving.

The Playwright 

6.9/10

I struggled as to whether to put The Playwright above TJ’s. The Playwright was closer in spirit to what it should be, but TJ’s was slightly higher quality. Fine margins and too close to call. We’re talking personal preferences within the Dallas Fish and Chips League, not the British Isles League. 

Cod: fresh, single fillet. Similar texture and flavor to Neighborhood Services. Can’t rave about it, can’t complain about it. 

Batter: closer in spirit to what it should be.

Chips: the house fries for the rest of the menu. The ubiquitous russets. I liked them but they were not U.K. chips, too thin, a little too dark.

Delaney’s 

6.7/10

Overall, despite the uninspiring venue, a good effort and one of the few places to offer haddock. Haddock has a stronger flavor and a finer, tighter texture than cod. After sampling both, I’d recommend the haddock. If you live in McKinney, drop in and try the haddock, but otherwise stick to The Celt. 

Cod and Haddock: single fillets, flash frozen.

Batter: similar to The Celt with a slight breadcrumb-like feel, which gives a comfort food vibe while being not entirely “true.”

Chips: two types offered. The house chip was fairly conventional Dallas, russet-based hand-cut and thin (pleasant as always). And then there was a spiraling tator-totish thing that although unconventional in appearance was fun to eat and maybe slightly closer to the U.K. Maris Piper/King Edward offering—only not really. 

The Londoner 

6.5/10 

Quite enjoyable overall. Given that they show football, I’d have their fish and chips again. Good solid effort. In footballing terms, didn’t concede, played well, came away with a point.

Cod: two sizable fillets. Flavor was decent, texture was decent. Did not offend, which is more of a compliment than it may sound. 

Batter: slightly cakey, but not overly thick and an honest effort. 

Chips: the thick-cut standard end-of-season russets. Skin still on in some cases, indicated house-cut. I liked them more than many of the others, but not U.K. chips. 

The Old Monk 

6.3/10 

Enjoyable middle-of-the-road Dallas pub fish and chips maybe in need of upgrading? It won a Best Of from D Magazine, but the bar might be rising. “Your country needs you,” as Lord Kitchener said. 

Cod: flash frozen at sea. Three batons of 2.5 ounces.

Batter: golden brown, crisp, quite enjoyable. Not overly seasoned. For me, batons of cod will automatically score lower because the proportion of batter to fish is thrown out. The baton is the sure sign of pub fare fish and chips, and it’s not for me, even though the flavors were good. 

Chips: Sysco’s classic steak fries. Kudos to The Old Monk for revealing fully what their chips are. While this might sound strange, their chips came closer to replicating U.K. fish and chip shop chips in shape and general eating experience—but not the real deal.  

Harwood Arms 

6.2/10  

Hated the place. Wouldn’t go back based on the personal dislikes, but the food was on a par with the other pubs. 

Cod: fresh/frozen status undetermined due to staff communication issues. But almost certainly frozen. Four batons. Standard Dallas batons of cod. 

Batter: somewhat cakey. I suspect the mixture was a little too thick in the first place. Yorkshire pudding/corn dog-like therefore. Perfectly serviceable Dallas pub battered fish and losing out to The Old Monk based only on its batter. 

Chips: they almost scored on this one but hit the woodwork. Good pale color, very broad but too flat, turning them almost into U.S. chips (as opposed to fries). 

Meddlesome Moth 

6.2/10 

Big points for being the only place to offer mushy peas. They got them quite wrong, however. Note to Dallas: the internet is not cuisine. Yes, you’ll see mushy peas made from frozen garden peas somewhere online, but this is quite wrong. A complete bastardization and a disservice to the tradition. Given that the Moth euphemistically upgrades itself as a gastropub, this was very average. Note to Shannon Wynne: please revisit the U.K. to experience what a gastropub actually is. Seriously. I’m not joking.  

Cod: flash frozen, three batons. Nondescript flavor and texture. Unfair to rank it better or worse than any of the other batons offered in Dallas, since they may well all be from the same supplier.

Batter: a beer batter, quite dark in color and in the fryer too long. Nothing to write home about. 

Chips: thin-cut russets, a medium brown in color, sweet and nutty, nothing like U.K. chips, but perfectly edible. 

Lochland’s 

5/10 

My gut feeling was that the chef messed it up on the night and it should/would have been very similar to The Old Monk’s. The fish seemed respectable (although batons). Scored possibly two own goals and possibly had injury problems. Subbed on a shepherd’s pie for my guest, which we couldn’t decide about, and I struggled to determine if it was lamb or beef. (I would not personally buy ground lamb in Dallas.) In fairness, I’d want to give it a second chance before sacking the coach and getting someone in from Portugal.

Cod: three batons. Flash frozen. A little greasy. Any flavor was marred by poor texture and a possible failure by the actual cook. 

Batter: soggy. Probably cakey. I suspect the oil wasn’t hot enough, which led to a compounding of sins. I feel bad for marking it down, but I can only go on what was put in front of me. 

Chips: the by-now-familiar thin-cut nutty-end-of-season russets that don’t evoke the British Isles and their entire 2,500 years of history.

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