A reason to love Lent: Where to catch a Friday night fish fry (with all the trimmings)

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The six weeks between Ash Wednesday and Easter known as Lent is traditionally a time for penance, fasting and restraint among many Christians. The Roman Catholic tradition of eschewing meat on Fridays created the modern Lenten Friday Fish Fry, popular around the region in church basements, VFW halls, small-town diners and city sit-down restaurants.

But holy mackerel, many are all-you-can-eat events – a fish dinner typically includes planks of deep fried cod or pollock, with fries, cole slaw and a roll.

So much for restraint.

The Pioneer Press produces an annual list of restaurants looking to net fish-loving diners.

Many of the eateries, clustered in the east metro, offer lunches as well as Friday night feasts. Sides vary, as do prices, which range from $15.99 at the Cherokee Tavern and Casper's Cherokee, to a budget-conscious $8.25 at Gallagher's in West St. Paul.

The St Cloud Times offers a list for fish specials in central Minnesota, where there is a high concentration of Catholic residents.

"Last year we had lines go out both doors for two hours straight," said Mary Fuchs-Olson, general manager of a VFW post in St. Cloud told the newspaper.

The story noted that fish is not the only Lenten tradition. Charlie's Cafe in Freeport is known for its potato pancakes as a Lenten special.

"We have cooks peeling potatoes all week long," said Charlie's Cafe owner Julie Job. "We have someone come in at 2 a.m. each day to start it."

ValleyNewsLive tracked specials available in Fargo-Moorhead and the surrounding area, and KTTC-TV in Rochester tracked the offerings around southeastern Minnesota and northern Iowa.

If all this whets your appetite for a fish sandwich on a day other than Friday, this post on Focus, a website operated by Catholic university students, has a rundown of the top 10 offerings at the drive-through window.

The post calls Wendy's Premium North Pacific Cod sandwich the best fast food option. The Worst? Arby's Classic Fish, called "bland."

If you're inspired to stay home and fry some fish in your own kitchen, DishMaps.com has a recipe here.

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