Restaurant Reviews

Australia's best fish and chips

Once battered, twice-fried? Or hand-cut and dry-filleted? Fish and chips may be humble, but getting it right is serious business. Here are 12 of the best versions from around the country, from no frills to extra fancy.

Fish and Chips from Captain Moonlite, Victoria.

New South Wales

It's a bones-out and head-on affair for the fish part of the fish and chips at Cirrus. Whole flathead is crumbed with a mixture of seeds and grains (black rice, amaranth, puffed sorghum) and panko, before it's deep-fried and plated with charred lemon and tartare sauce. And the chips? A beer batter make them moreish, that and a seasoning of kombu and mushroom powder. Pro tip: the head is left on the fish for a reason – eat the cheek. 23 Barangaroo Ave, Barangaroo, (02) 9220 0111,
Saint Peter
The key to killer fish and chips? Getting the fish right. It seems like a no-brainer, but as chef-owner Josh Niland points out, it's too often overlooked. According to Niland the ideal fish is pink ling, which is dense and robust, has a decent amount of fat and sweetness, and is also easy to de-bone. From there, a touch of vodka helps the batter turn extra crisp and flaky as soon as it hits the fryer. The chips are thick and hand-cut, soaked overnight, then steamed and dried, before being plunged into cottonseed oil, while the tartare is based on yoghurt instead of mayonnaise for a cleaner, lighter sauce, with added crunch from coarse-chopped cornichons and capers. 362 Oxford St, Paddington, (02) 8937 2530,
Whole flathead and chips at Cirrus.

Western Australia

Peaceful Bay Fish & Chips
This fish and chipper might be this coastal community's only eatery, but it's a good one. Well-handled seafood aside – the owners catch and fillet their own fish, and even let you BYO – a light batter made with soda and self-raising flour plus the tallow in the fryer equals a seafood feed worth hitting the road for. 10 East Ave, Peaceful Bay,
Fish and chips at Peaceful Bay. Photo: Max Veenhuyzen


The inverted commas around the "fish and chips" at the Vue Group's moody seafood restaurant are there for a reason: this is far from a traditional reading, with raw tuna wrapped around a nest of crisp-fried potato and leek and topped with oyster emulsion and pickle powder. The gorgeous blend of flavours, temperatures and textures will stop even the purists mid-scoff. 430 Little Collins St, Melbourne, (03) 9691 3838,
Hooked Fish and Chipper
Hooked may be one of the original new school-style fish and chip shops, meaning it actually cares about salads and cholesterol, but it still keeps a sharp focus on the main game. Brittle, crisp batter encases blue grenadier or gummy flake (there may also be barramundi) that, like the fat, fluffy, hand-cut chips made with locally grown spuds, is fried in cottonseed oil. 384 Brunswick St, Fitzroy, (03) 9417 7740, (also in Hawthorn and Windsor),
Paper Fish
Stokehouse's boardwalk kiosk is all about sustainable, locally caught fresh (never frozen) fish, so the menu changes according to availability. Blue grenadier or sustainable gummy shark make regular appearances, encased in a lacy, crunchy tempura-style batter. There are enthusiastically seasoned crinkle-cut chips, and a superb Japanese-style potato cake made with mashed potato, peas and carrot, then dunked in batter and fried, like everything else, in vegetable oil. Beachside, Stokehouse Precinct, 30 Jacka Blvd, St Kilda, (03) 8691 6830,
"Fish and chips" of raw tuna and fried potato and leek at Iki-Jime. Photo: Julian Kingma


The view of Noosa Main Beach may set the mood, but it also raises expectations. Chef Paul Leete's beer-battered fish – mahi mahi from MSC-certified Walker Seafoods, or occasionally local mulloway – meets them. Fat sebago chips, skins partially left on, are cut by hand before being steamed, then twice-fried. Dill, capers and tarragon keep the tartare sauce classic, while pickles (red onion, cucumber, carrot) add some acid. 75 Hastings St, Noosa Heads, (07) 5447 4235,
Banter Bar & Seafood
Banter's batter uses Eumundi lager, a schooner of which (or any other of the craft ales on pour) happens to be a perfect match with crisp hot chips sprinkled with vinegar salt and a fried fillet of barramundi or king snapper, or local whiting in a crumb spiked with lemon zest. Specials include flounder and smooth dory. Bonus: a separate fryer used only for gluten-free items caters for coeliacs. 708 Main St, Kangaroo Point, (07) 3391 7680,
Ol' School
First brined, then twice-cooked, Ol' School's bronzed, skin-on, hand-cut sebago chips are as good as fried spuds get. Then there's the fish: Sunshine Coast mahi mahi, perhaps, or goldband snapper, dry filleted then grilled, or deep-fried in a light beer batter laced with turmeric and a splash of vodka to encourage compact air pockets and a crisp result. Just add house sriracha, or a dollop of yoghurt-based tartare. Ol' School, 58 Hope St, South Brisbane, 0402 360 432,
Ol' School's beer-battered fish with yoghurt tartar sauce. Photo: Judit Losh


Dunalley Fish Market
"1 person = $12, 2 persons = $20, 3 persons…" That's the menu at Dunalley Fish Market, where a table inside the shed comes with bushfire memorabilia and houseplants, and a table by the water might come with a friendly seal floating nearby. Diners are handed a newspaper parcel filled with thick, golden chips and whatever fish is fresh (one day lightly crumbed flake or flathead, another trevally) and always a generous helping of flash-fried calamari – rings, tentacles and all. 11 Fulham Rd, Dunalley, (03) 6253 5428
Dunalley Fish Market, Tas.

South Australia

The Port Admiral Hotel
Front-bar fish and chips is a dead-serious offering at this refurbished dockside pub. The catch changes daily, but the preference of cook, and hotel partner, Angus Henderson is smaller fish with full flavour, such as Coorong mullet or Tommy ruff. He coats the fillets in a fresh batter, made a litre at a time and featuring the pub's house lager, The Port Local (made by Pirate Life), and fries them crisp and golden. The fish also stars in a burger with iceberg lettuce, tomato, cheese and aïoli, which is served with fat, fluffy crinkle-cut chips dusted with paprika-accented seasoning. 55 Commercial Rd, Port Adelaide, (08) 8341 2249,
The Stunned Mullet
Since opening their small suburban take-away fish shop in 2005, Dino and Amanda Papadopoulos have sourced sustainable, locally caught seafood from wholesalers, markets and individual fishermen to ensure freshness and variety. Dino offers at least eight varieties – he's especially fond of flathead, crumbed then fried, but also steers customers towards coral perch or silver dory from SA's Spencer Gulf, dipped in a cold batter, without beer, to ensure maximum crispness. And yes, sometimes they serve Coorong or red mullet. 8 East Tce, Henley Beach, (08) 8356 7696
Words: Harriet Davidson, Fiona Donnelly, Michael Harden, David Sly, Max Veenhuyzen and Paulette Whitney.