Food: Top 10 Places to Try Fish & Chips in England

Have you tried the rather strange-sounding specialty dishes on pub grub menus in glorious England? Typically, a ploughman's lunch, bangers and mash, pasties, samosas, pickled eggs, shepherd's pie, steak and ale pie, Sunday roast and, yes, spotted dick for dessert (which is called 'pudding'). However, fish and chips is also a quintessential pub dish.

It can be quite delicious and filling, especially on those raw wintry days. As British cooking has progressed from World War II rationing to the dull, boiled dishes of the decades following, and lately to new heights in cuisine, there are a few places that have taken fish and chips seriously all along.

About fish and chips

Fish and chips have been a British staple since 1860. The fish is cod, haddock, plaice, whiting, monkfish or sole, battered and deep fried. The chips are thick cut steak french fries, of course. Top it all off by sprinkling on salt and malt vinegar, a squirt from a lemon wedge, and condiments like tartare sauce or ketchup (optional). Mushy peas are a popular side dish.

Where to find it

Find fish and chips at a "chippy," where you take it away with you; it's quickly wrapped up in a triangle-shaped cone of old newspaper or a sheet of manila paper to absorb the grease. There are about 12,000 chippies in the UK. Or, pull up a seat at a pub or in a restaurant and they'll serve it on a plate, giving you time to enjoy a pint or two. Go native and ask for the local brew on tap.

The best fish and chips

Below are ten of the best places to try fish and chips; they've won nationwide competitions, awards from newspaper critics and restaurant guides, and scored highest in voting contests by the public. Some give testimonial by queues of taxi drivers out front, some are filled with families, some are the oldest in the business, and the one in Whitby is right at the edge of the water where the fishermen pull up their nets.

Sustainable food sources, non-threatened species, responsible fishing, and gluten free batter are among the features nowadays. Prices range from about £6 to £19 ($9 to $30). The list begins with my own favorite, a very popular neighborhood fish restaurant since 1939.

1. Geale's, 2 Farmer Street, Notting Hill, London

2. The Golden Hind, 73 Marylebone Lane, London

3. Sweetings (since 1889), 39 Queen Victoria Street, London

4. Rules (London's oldest Restaurant, since 1798), 35 Maiden Lane, Covent Garden, London

5. Master Super Fish, 191 Waterloo Road, London

6. Rockfish, 28 Lower Street, Dartmouth, Devon

7. Seniors, 91 Fleetwood Road North, Thornton, Lancashire (two other locations in Lytham and Blackpool)

8. Colman's Fish & Chip, 182-186 Ocean Road, South Shields, Tyne and Wear (near Newcastle)

9. Quayside, 7 Pier Road, Whitby, North Yorkshire

10. McDermott's Fish & Chips, Forestdale Shopping Centre, Featherbed Lane, Croydon, Surrey (a second location in Croydon and a third in Orpington, Kent)