Last week, Whitby held its annual Fish and Chip Run, an event for classic car owners to meet in Malton and drive over the North York Moors for portions of Yorkshire’s East Coast’s finest. As it doesn’t take much to persuade us to partake in both a seaside trip and a chippy tea, this was reason enough to take our own tour of Whitby’s best fish and chips shops.
In an area renowned for its locally caught fresh fish there are unsurprisingly a vast array of places making good with it. To stand out in a crowded market is therefore not easily done. Ask a mixture of regulars for their favourite and you’ll end up with a lengthy list of different answers.
Visitors will mention The Magpie, which dominates the seafront and often has huge queues outside to get in. Trenchers is another favourite restaurant amongst returning holidaymakers, and both places undoubtedly deserve their wide acclaim for high quality traditional fish and chips in elevated comfort.
Along from The Magpie you won’t miss the long green frontage on the 1820s building that homes Quayside. Since the third generation of a frying family took over at the turn of the millennium, Quayside has become increasingly popular with both residents and tourists alike. The space is split between a takeaway and restaurant, and whether chomping down chips on the bandstand before the seagulls get to them or cutting up cod in the safety of their cosy indoors, the award-winning calibre is obvious.
The same Fusco family have also been feeding Whitby bellies since the sixties at Royal Fisheries, where they are still frying fondly. This Baxtergate takeout is an old favourite, using traditional methods and expert know-how to produce haddock, cod, plaice and sole, all in their beef dripping own-recipe batter. Another inland takeaway worth a visit is the obviously located Silver Street Fisheries, a local that keeps it simple and effective.
Heading back towards the sea, Russell’s is a friendly traditional fish and chip shop in a prime position. The cute exterior stirs up seaside nostalgia, and there’s no arguing with the pocket-pleasing prices of the crowd-pleasing menu to eat up on the pier.
Across the nearby bridge to the other side of Whitby, where towards the Abbey a handful more fish and chip shops could also make fair claim for being the town’s best. Those in the know often cite Mister Chips as such. Despite running successfully for almost thirty years, it still feels like a proud discovery. The restaurant area adds more seafood and meat options to the standard fare, but let’s be honest, whether eating in or taking away, we’re all ordering the mighty main event.
Nearby, Hadley’s is a family-friendly restaurant that has been going strong for 75 years, during which they have honed their fish and chip making skills to the max. Besides the expert frying of the expected goodies, their homemade tartare sauce and mushy peas deserve a standout mention. And only a few feet away, Robertson’s also focuses on the reason you’re here with a menu of familiar chip shop favourites in both the casual restaurant and takeaway to tuck into.
Approximately 199 steps from the famous 199 steps that lead up to Whitby Abbey, a newer premium fish restaurant offers extra from the norm. Abbey Wharf is a swanky yet welcoming space that is more of a modern restaurant bar than traditional fish and chippy. But as well as refined seafood starters, meaty mains and vegetarian options, there remains damn fine fish and chips. Homemade family recipe batter keeps things authentic, though the choices of halibut and monkfish, twice cooked chips and salad, add a not unwelcome twist.
At all of the above, and surely others that missed the list, they’re doing it right: responsibly sourced fish, fried in family-recipe batter, proper chips, homemade sides, vegan and gluten-free options, friendly service and sea air. It’s easy to see why so many are called the best. Let’s call it a draw and come back for more.