SGV Tribune

8 best places for fish and chips in the San Gabriel Valley

While London may boast a bigger variety of preparations for this culinary joy, there are many places to enjoy it this side of the pond.

Recently, Uber Eats — one of the delivery services keeping us fed during this ongoing global disruption of our lives — recently revealed the dishes that are the most requested by their customers.

Turns out, the chow at the very top isn’t fried chicken, pizza, sushi or tasty barbecue — though all did well, along with pad Thai noodles, chicken tikka masala and Buffalo wings. The top desire of those of us binge-watching “Ozark” is…french fries. Which comes as a surprise to me. Because, as satisfying as french fries are, by themselves they seem to lack a sense of purpose. Pair them with a burger and they’re a much better dish — though burgers rarely travel well. But make them half of the British classic fish ’n’ chips and you’ve got a proper meal. Trust me…I know.

Before our current pandemic nightmare began, I was in London visiting my daughter who’s going to school there. A big part of my visit consisted of going with her to her favorite restaurants — of which there are many. (The apple doesn’t fall far, etc.) And when she asked me what I wanted when I got off the plane, my answer was simple: I want fish ’n’ chips, for there’s no better way to begin a British excursion than with a proper order of fish ’n’ chips. With some ale on the side, of course. It’s perhaps one of Nature’s most perfect meals. Especially with a heavy dousing of malt vinegar.

And so, she took me to a SoHo café called Golden Union Food, a restaurant with no pretension at all and a menu of a dozen sundry fish with lots of chips. Lots and lots of chips.

Like most of us, I grew up eating my fish ’n’ chips at H. Salt, where the choice was, as I recall, cod — the basic go-to fish for fish ’n’ chips. The option to choose from any of a dozen finny friends was more than a bit dazzling. It also was befuddling. How did cod differ from haddock, plaice, pollock and hake? All of them are mildly flavored white fish that, once encased in a batter and drenched with malt vinegar, might well be hard to tell apart.

And, as I discovered, it didn’t really matter. Over the next 10 days, we went through numerous orders of fish ’n’ chips. I tried a different fish each time. And, if you asked me to guess which was which in a blind tasting, I wouldn’t have a clue. They just weren’t all that different.

Cod is usually described as slightly sweet with large flakes that easily fall apart. Haddock is a bit sweeter, and a bit firmer. Plaice is milder tasting. Pollock has a sort of coarse texture. Hake is notable more for the pinkness of its flesh than its notable taste. But the salmon tasted like salmon; what else would salmon taste like?

If there was anything over there that set the fish ’n’ chips joints apart one from another, it was the other dishes. Sometimes the chips were fatter, sometimes thinner and crispier. There’s a dish called a Chip Buttie, which is chips served in a roll — a french fry sandwich. There are mushy peas, which were more or less mushy, and more or less salted and peppered.

It all made the ritual of fish ’n’ chips a very reasonably priced joy — one I plan to continue on this side of the pond…at the following local eateries:

Baja Cali Fish ’n’ Chips

2001 W. Valley Blvd., Alhambra; 626-872-0479,

At first glance, the menu at this Mexican fast food café — with “fish ’n’ chips” in its name! — would seem to be devoid of…fish ’n’ chips. You have to go all the way to the kid’s menu to find them — where there are both fish ’n’ chips, and shrimp ’n’ chips.

And very good they are too, cranked out by a kitchen that turns out some very impressive tacos, burritos, tostadas, seafood cocteles, sopes, tortas, quesadillas, nachos, caldos — and a single fried fish dish. But then, you can combine the very good deep-fried mojarra, with either a side of fries. Or, if you want to run wild, with the “loaded fries” — french fries topped with a choice of four meats (asada, al pastor, carnitas, chicken or barbacoa), served atop a mess of beans, nacho cheese, crema, pico de gallo, with guacamole atop it all.

Fish ’n’ chips — and so much more. Is it British? Not even close. Does it matter…and is it good? Do you even have to ask?

Carnaby Street Fish ’n’ Chips

1627 N. Hacienda Blvd., La Puente; 626-918-9223

During my trip to London, we went (of course!) to Carnaby Street. Which is still a groovy, fun part of London, akin to Covent Garden. But is no longer peopled with the Beau Brummels of the 1960s. Nor, for that matter, is the staff at this iconically named fish ’n’ chippery, where the menu runs to the title dish — and a bit more as well. There’s fish ’n’ chips, of course. But there are also shrimp ’n’ chips, clams ’n’ chips, oysters ’n’ chips and scallops ’n’ chips.

And as a reminder that we’re in La Puente, and not London, there are also tacos, egg rolls, fried rice and wontons. Unexpected. But then, this is SoCal, where nothing should be unexpected. Fish ’n’ chips and wontons? Kissin’ cousins, both deep-fried. They match well.


88 N. Fair Oaks Ave., Old Pasadena; 626-219-6199,

The place certainly looks right, with its whitewashed walls, with little white fishies leaping on them, its counter/oyster bar with quirky tilework underneath, its hanging globe lights, and laidback staff with their gimme caps turned brimside back. It’s understated, minimalist, medium cool — a restaurant in search of a tide.

The fish ’n’ chips here are a wonder and a joy — a nigh-on perfect creation. They’re described on the menu as “True Cod Fish ’n’ Chips,” made using classic Atlantic cod in a beer batter served with a snappy house tartar for much dipping.

And there’s more, much more. I go more than a little mad for the fried oysters over deviled eggs, a combination of two favorite dishes on one plate — how lucky can a guy get? It’s seasoned with Old Bay, which would make pencil shavings taste good. There’s a basket of steamers, with half a Maine lobster thrown in for the fun of it. The grilled Spanish octopus with a squid ink vinaigrette is properly exotic…and there’s both a Maine lobster roll and a Dungeness crab roll, competing rolls from opposite coasts. A smoked rainbow trout roll? Why not, served with the house-made lemon mayo.

There are 10 oysters on the menu, which you can check off on a list — choosing by the single, the half dozen or the dozen — happy critters with names like Shigoku, Musty Point and Kusshi. The paper menu also offers raw littleneck clams, Peruvian scallops and uni — along with cooked jumbo shrimp, black mussels, and a Maine lobster, half or whole.

If you’re feeling flush, go for one of the Seafood Samplers — The Fish, The Wives or The Supreme — which gives you 15 oysters, six clams, 16 shrimp, six scallops, 20 mussels and a lobster. The menu tells us that’s enough for five to six. Supermodels maybe. But not the rest of us — I figure two is about right.

  • Fish and chips is a culinary joy, prepared here with Alaskan halibut and nerf du pan bread crumbs, and served with grilled cabbage slaw and house-made potato chips. (File photo by Cindy Yamanaka)

  • Fish and chips, served with tartar sauce and sliced lemon. (Shutterstock)

  • Sound
    The gallery will resume inseconds
  • Fish and chips, served with mashed peas and tartar sauce. (Shutterstock)



Kitty’s Fish ’n’ Chips

147 N. Grand Ave., Covina; 626-331-8874,

The place is about fish, and more fish, and even more fish, all served with fries. Two, three, four, all the way up to 18 on the menu of slabs of battered deep-fried cod. There’s catfish and shrimp, the shrimp deep-fried, and the shrimp coated in coconut and deep-fried, the shrimp available in numbers ranging from modest to massive. There’s popcorn shrimp, both regular and Cajun spiced. There’s deep-fried calamari and oysters and clams and scallops. Chicken strips and chicken wings too. There are hush puppies from the Deep South, fried mac ’n’ cheese (crunchy!), and jalapeño poppers. Egg rolls too, because why not? There are old ship models and lighthouses too. And a stand-up kittycat proclaiming daily specials. But mostly, it’s fish and it’s chips — they’re in the name, and on most every plate. And they travel very well, though a bit of reheating doesn’t hurt.

Lucky Baldwin’s Pub

17 S. Raymond Ave., Old Pasadena; 626-795-0652,

In Jolly Old England, True Home of Pub Grub, the dishes devised to go along with ale and stout have reached some rather obscure levels of creativity. It’s over there that one dines upon such savouries (as they’re often called) as Angels on Horseback (oysters wrapped in bacon on toast), Scotch Woodcock (anchovies on toast, topped with scrambled eggs), Welsh Rarebit (melted cheese poured on toast and then grilled), fish ’n’ chips, bangers ’n’ mash, and a world of dishes known variously as puddings, pasties and pies — steak and kidney pie, Cornish mutton pie, Yorkshire pan pie, Cheshire pork pie, eel pie, and the always popular Shepherd’s pie, which isn’t really a pie at all, but rather ground lamb topped with mashed potatoes and then baked.

For dessert, there’s Spotted Dick, which is suet pudding with raisins.

At Lucky Baldwin’s (which, I should note, is named for Elias J. “Lucky” Baldwin, who lived from 1828 to 1909, made a fortune in gold, silver and real estate, and is immortalized in Baldwin Hills and Baldwin Park; by all rights, the city of Arcadia, which was once his, should be named “Baldwin” as well), there’s neither eel pie nor Spotted Dick.

The menu is largely Brit pub grub, though there are some deviations — notably the stuffed jalapeños, the Caesar salad and Cobb salad, the chicken wings, a chicken breast sandwich, and a hamburger that looks like a hamburger (Wimpy’s to the contrary). But otherwise, there are fish ’n’ chips which contend for the title of Best in Town (without putting them side by side with the fish ’n’ chips at Ye Olde King’s Head in Santa Monica, it’s hard to say). They come with peas and tartar sauce, and taste best well drenched with malt vinegar.

In the British style, the fries are more blocky than crisp; that’s authenticity incarnate. For reasons I can’t quite fathom, they’ve renamed their Shepherd’s Pie as Cottage Pie; it appears to be the same, and it’s hard to stop shoveling it in.

For those who need a bit of this and that, there’s the Yorkshire Mixed Grill of a pork chop, a fried tomato, the pork and bread sausage called a banger, Irish bacon that’s an even mix of fat and meat, an egg, chips and mushrooms; it’s more a mixed bag than a mixed grill, but it’s also true to the style, as it were.

So is the Ploughman’s Plate of Stilton cheese, cheddar cheese, a pickled onion and Branston pickle — a mix of vinegared vegetables invented by Crosse & Blackwell back in 1922.

For dessert, there’s treacle pudding, which is as treacly as it sounds. The problem with dessert is that it doesn’t go well with beer. What amazes about Lucky Baldwin’s is that this is an authentic British pub that doesn’t play at being British; it just is what it is. The best pubs always are.

New England Fish ’n’ Chips & Chinese Food

1705 W. Main St., Alhambra; 626-576-2082,

Honestly, the place should list “Chinese food” first. For Chinese food — old school Chinese food — is the dominant cuisine at this Alhambra takeout shop. I’m talking fried rice, sautéed noodles, noodle soup, egg foo young and chop suey. Wonton and egg drop soups too. The fish ’n’ chips menu sits over the counter, while the Chinese menu is printed. Along with fish ’n’ chips, there are shrimp ’n’ chips, scallops ’n’ chips, and oysters ’n’ chips.

But mostly, there’s a sense of walking off Main Street into the past. In the burgeoning, hyper-complex world of SG Valley Chinese food, chop suey is a lost dish. It’s fun to encounter it again. Though whether it mixes with fish ’n’ chips, is open to debate.

Off the Hook Fish Grill

12824 Hadley St., Whittier, 562-696-6191; 13817 Whittier Blvd., Whittier, 562-632-1497;

There are twists and turns on the menu at Off the Hook that constantly remind you this is only vaguely a cousin of fast-casual seafood houses like Sharky’s. Consider, for instance, the choice of coleslaws. Right off, the fact that there’s a choice of coleslaws makes the place a bit unexpected. One is a classic coleslaw — chunky cabbage, made in-house, marinated in a tangy sauce, a classic accompaniment to fish & chips and the like. But then, there’s also a coleslaw tossed with chunks of — hold on — lobster. Caviar would be loonier. But lobster comes as a sizable surprise. It costs twice as much as a traditional coleslaw. But then, lobster is lobster. And, indeed, the addition of lobster is a minor, but notable, theme at Off the Hook.

There’s lobster ceviche, a couple of lobster tacos, lobster pita pockets. Like many fresh seafood-ophiles, I’m rather mad for ceviche, which can be perceived as a sibling of sashimi and carpaccio, and a progenitor of Hawaiian poke. In other words, seafood that’s raw, but not always that raw.

There are four ceviches on the menu at Off the Hook — along with the lobster, there’s whitefish, shrimp and the Mexican mouthful called aguachile, which is basically shrimp marinated in a citrus and pepper sauce. And they all make for a considerable meal.

Oh…and the fish ’n’ chips. It’s proper and classic, listed oddly under Appetizers, though it certainly makes for a fine entrée. But I guess at Off the Hook, diners are expected to cover their tables with chow. I know I did. You can order the ceviches one at a time. Or, you can get the ceviche sampler, a platter of whitefish, shrimp and aguachile, served over crispy tortilla chips, for $8.25. I was expecting a modest snack. What I got was a meal — so much ceviche, that finishing it was briefly daunting. At least, until I started scooping the fish in, and found I couldn’t stop.

The aguachile in particular is a wonder — in part because the shrimp is so fresh and tender, and in part because the citrus and chile sauce is spicy, but less spicy than most. Rather than gasping after as mouthful, I wanted more. A very good dish.

There is, as you’ll notice, a pleasant mixing of cuisines here. On one hand, Off the Hook is a Mexican seafood house — all those ceviches and tacos topped with sauces of chipotle and habanero. On another hand, the grilled seafood, with its pita bread, is a tad Mediterranean, while the panko crumb breaded fried seafood leans toward Japan. The salads are pretty much American, the fish & chips are Brit. And the desserts — a massive churro and ice cream sundae, and a root beer float — are just plain madcap.

UEDF Fish ’n’ Chips

2191 N. Lake Ave., Altadena; 626-794-0277

The curious name translates as “United Economic Development Fund…a 501C nonprofit organization.” It’s further described online as, “taking a proactive and assertive approach to reverse the trend by implementing a much-needed credit union and community center which will rebuild, rebrand and recharge economics in inner city neighborhoods…”

The sign in front says “UEDF Fish ’n’ Chips”…and “Akbar Coffee.” And the menu is eclectic…or at least eclectic lite. There’s fried halal chicken (the Islamic version of kosher), hush puppies — and a choice of tilapia, catfish and red snapper in the deep-fryer. The fish is fried with a cornmeal coating. I’m not entirely sure what all this is about. But, well, there are fish ’n’ chips. They’re good. More than that, I cannot ask.

Merrill Shindler is a Los Angeles-based freelance dining critic. Email