Lent begins today, and at Aleteia that means it’s time for our yearly review of fast food fish sandwiches! Our millennial correspondent has bitten the cholesterol bullet (nine of them actually) for you so that you don’t have to shop around for the best taste of the season.
It was a tight competition this year, with several franchises upping their game to bring more palatable sandwiches than in the past. We also have a couple of newcomers to this annual critique: White Castle and Arby’s. Both of these restaurants are worthy contestants we were glad to have added to the fold.
We must note, however, that one of the best sandwiches in the past does not appear on this list. Unfortunately, this year all the Checkers locations within driving distance of our taste-tester have closed, so they will no longer be in the running.
So let’s see who has the best and worst fish sandwiches for Lent 2022.
This is a very tasty sandwich and, although they give a big dollop, their tartar sauce doesn’t overpower the flavor. The spice they used has a much bigger kick than one might expect from Arby’s. One of our favorite parts about this sandwich is that they added tomato to give it a nice texture combination with the fish and keep it moist. This is one of the best fish sandwiches on the fast food circuit.
Without the spice, however, the Arby’s fish sandwich is nothing to write home about. The fish is tender and fried well, but the taste is bland. For some reason the tomato only comes standard on the spicy sandwich, and we noted its lack of presence in the general mouthfeel of the sandwich. It’s still better than some of the others, but with the spicy sandwich on the same menu, it makes no sense to choose this one, barring allergy concerns.
It seems strange that Sonic even makes a fish sandwich, considering they don’t want you to actually taste the fish. This sandwich is horrible. Rather than being crispy, the filet was soggy from all the sauce and pickle brine. It tasted like a vaguely fishy pickle sandwich with an ultra tangy sauce. We could not bring ourselves to take a second bite. Avoid this sandwich at all costs.
After years of underperforming, Wendy’s has gotten its groove back. This filet was crispy and it stayed that way even with the sauce. This was thanks to an ingenious idea to use a full leaf of lettuce to separate the two. Doing away with the shredded lettuce also made the sandwich much less messy. While there was still more of a pickle flavor than we would have liked, Wendy’s has become a viable option for fasting days.
Like Arby’s, White Castle is new to this competition, in 2022. It’s half the price of other fish sandwiches, but it’s also half the size. While the fish isn’t the best on this list, it certainly is not the worst. This is a very bare bones sandwich with just fish and cheese, and they leave off the sauce completely, giving it in packets on the side. This is actually the best case scenario as their tartar sauce is not of very good quality.
BK surprised us this year with a much better fish sandwich than in the past. The first thing we noticed was how much bigger it is than it used to be. The bun is soft and fluffy and the filet isn’t half bad. The sauce does not overpower the fish, nor do the pickles, even though they were quite thick. It may not be top tier, but it’s the best year for BK fish sandwiches in a long time.
Just like Yellowstone’s Old Faithful, the McDonald’s fish sandwich has remained the same for as long as anyone can remember. This is the base sandwich, the “vanilla” to which all other fast food fish sandwiches should be compared. While there is nothing phenomenal about it, there’s nothing terrible either. It’s a solid choice if you’re on the go and need to eat fast.
The standard fish sandwich over at Popeyes is pretty hard to beat. It’s a fish sandwich that actually tastes like fish. They keep the sauce very thin and it makes a huge difference. On top of that the bun may be the most delicious of any fast food location. This sandwich is about a dollar more expensive than the others, but it’s also a lot bigger and leaves you feeling full. Popeyes has the added benefit of also serving shrimp, so your fasting Fridays can become a little more varied.
Spicy (Aleteia’s Pick 2022)
Popeyes spicy fish sandwich is quite simply the best sandwich on this list. Louisiana knows its seafood and their spices suit the taste perfectly. They didn’t weigh the sandwich down with too many pickles or too much sauce or cheese, either. Popeyes knew that they had a winner and they didn’t need to put any bells and whistles on it to win the gold.
The sandwich is so good that even though we got to it last and the bun was a little soggy, it was still the clear winner. It’s so good that we would even order it if we weren’t fasting. If you can only eat one fish sandwich this Lent, Popeyes’ spicy fish sandwich is the clear choice for the best meal.