I love fast food. This is a taboo statement, but for me it's true. You can give me that crispy, salty, fat-drippy goodness any time, and I will be a happy camper. Don't get me wrong-- too much of it will lull you into a food coma like no other. I have been there many times, but somehow I have also managed to find a happy balance between drive-thru warrior and home cook extraordinaire. But what about fast food fish sandwiches?
Even though I have an affinity for fast food staples such as chicken nuggets, french fries, and onion rings, my hands-down least favorite is the fish sandwich. They are just so boring and bland, and eating them is always a last resort. If that's the case, then why am I ranking fast food fish sandwiches, you ask? I wanted to prove myself wrong and find the one fast food fish sandwich out there that's worthy of a second chance. If I could fall in love with McDonald's Fish McBites nine years ago, then I can only hope there's a fish sandwich out there for me to enjoy.
To make sure these sandwiches were judged properly on an even playing field, I opted for the regular versions of these 7 sandwiches with no modifications. Come as you are, fishie sammies, for better or for worse! Looking for a satisfying mouthfeel, balanced flavors, and just overall deliciousness, I actually found some surprising results. Let's dig in! Here are my rankings of 7 fast food fish sandwiches.
Best Fast Food Fish Sandwiches Ranked
7. Hardee's Panko-Breaded Fish Sandwich
Wooo boy! Where do we begin with this sandwich? The frozen fish sticks that I subsisted on in undergrad tasted phenomenally better than this sad and disgusting breaded filet on a bun. Although supposedly panko-crusted, the filet is limp and mushy, topped with lifeless lettuce, and not even the whisper of tartar sauce can save this monstrosity. I would pay Hardees to never make this sandwich again. Avoid at all costs.
6. Bojangles' - The Bojangler Fish Sandwich
This sandwich's strength lies in the signature Bojangles Cajun seasoning in the breading for the Alaskan pollock filet. While it is very faint, there's definitely something other than cardboard coming through to the surface. There's a square of American cheese in the middle for no reason, because it's not doing a single thing; just going along for the ride. My sandwich had very little tartar sauce, and I needed more. Tartar sauce is my least favorite condiment, so if I'm calling for more, it's certainly lacking. Overall, if I was a pescatarian in a hurry and my only option was this sandwich at a chicken joint, then sure, I'd be satisfied.
5. McDonald's: The Filet-o-Fish
Ah, The Filet-o-Fish, my old frenemy, we meet again. The best part of this sandwich, hands down, is the tartar sauce. It's all that you taste because the fish brick has absolutely none. Thinking my senses were masked by the pointless cheese and the bun, I tasted a corner of the filet alone, and yep, nothing but grease and despair. The tartar sauce does a lot of work, but I appreciated the sauce's creaminess and notes of dill.
4. Burger King - Big Fish
Based on all the negative comments I'd heard and read online about the Big Fish, I was convinced that this would be ranked last on my list, but no! In a shocking twist, the Big Fish really pulled through. While the filet itself is forgettable, it was still much better than expected. Of all the fish sandwiches that include sliced pickles, this sandwich has the best because they are so crunchy, and not too tangy or sweet. The lettuce, tartar sauce, and pickles all come together to provide an enjoyable experience. Good job, BK.
3. Arby's - Crispy Fish Sandwich
Normally lettuce annoys me on sandwiches, but I vowed to taste each of these sandwiches with no modifications, and honestly, nothing could be worse than the poor excuse for lettuce draped across the Hardee's fish sandwich. I'm glad I left the sandwich as-is because the shredded lettuce adds a nice crunch, and the filet had a nice bite to it. Arby's tartar sauce is the sweetest out of the bunch, but I can forgive that, especially since they did not add any unnecessary cheese slices. The crunchy breading makes up for the filet's spongy texture. Overall, this is a nice sandwich.
2. Wendy's Wild Caught Alaskan Fish Sandwich
Wendy's piled this sandwich with a little bit of everything: lettuce, pickles, cheese AND tartar sauce. Seems a bit excessive, but it all worked really well together (although my sandwich had a tad too much sauce, if such a thing exists). The filet was crunchy on the outside, mushy on the inside, but the pickle was so solid that I could be convinced that they were hand cut. The cheese got lost in the sauce, but it doesn't belong on a fish sandwich anyway, so I can forgive that.
1. Popeye's Classic Flounder Fish Sandwich
This sandwich really blew me away. From the signature cajun seasoning, to the thick crispy breading that just won't quit, to the wonderful pickles - flavorful and crunchy, the Classic Flounder Fish Sandwich was an absolute pleasure to try. It's the only sandwich where the flavors compliment each other instead of distracting from an underwhelming filet. It has just enough tartar sauce -- I mean, you really can't go wrong, and this sandwich deserves a spot on Popeye's year-round menu.