Locals swear you’ve never had anything like it, so naturally, we had to try it for ourselves. They weren’t wrong.
Since the 1890s, the Maricque family (rhymes with Derek) has made their living off of fish. At first, it was commercial fishing. Today, their name is synonymous with fish fry, which some call the best in the state!
Jamie Maricque, 62, runs the kitchen at Maricque’s Bar, and he has been since he was 15.
“My grandfather opened a bar and started serving fish that he caught. That was in 1932,” Jamie told us, as he hurried toward the deep-fryer he mans most nights.
Destination Fish Fry
Maricque’s had been on my travel to-do list for a very long time. A fish fry, but not just any fish fry. The best in Green Bay, I’ve been told, and surely one of the best in the state. So when I finally had the chance to head over there with friends the night before a Packers game, I was all in.
The tavern-style restaurant has been in its current location since 1964: a nondescript building with one tiny window out front and only its name in modest script.
Parking is a delicate game of 15-Puzzle, with lucky patrons slipping into that one vacant spot or heading back around the block to park on residential streets. Customers in the know park across the street in a lot that Maricque’s rents behind Clock Place, which is only open during the daytime.
Maricque’s takes no reservations, so when I arrived at 6 on a Friday night, the line already spans most of the restaurant! It takes a moment to find the back of it. Luckily, it moved faster than it looked.
Keeping It Simple
At Maricque’s, fish platters arrive on paper plates and without tableware. “Finger food from day one,” as Jamie describes it. Bar service is an incredibly streamlined affair. The restaurant’s done a great job of focusing on what they do best: fish fry’s, chicken strips, shrimp baskets, and three sides – fries, curds, and onion rings. Every order comes with a slice of rye bread and raw onions.
When it comes to fish, the selection is about as comprehensive as you can get: lake perch, bluegill, walleye, cod, whitefish, or catfish. Bigger appetites can order bigger portions, so a perch plate comes in single orders of three and four, a double order of six, or a triple of nine. Walleye comes in one big piece or two. But no matter the type of fish, the smallest order is priced the same.
The most popular? The perch. Your choice if you want it fileted or with the bones. Jamie says about 10% of the customers still choose the latter.
In addition to no dishes, Maricque’s also saves time behind the bar. Its Old Fashioneds come unmuddled, served in a full pint glass unless you ask for something smaller. No one does. The server also takes your garnish order: “Cherry, olive or pickled mushroom?” Answer “yes” and you may get all three. Tap beers include the usual macros and a couple locals, but Stillmank Brewery, just a few blocks away, produces Maricque’s own Blonde Ale.
Originally, the bar was open daily and served fish two days a week. But in 1996, it cut back to Wednesdays and Fridays, with a Saturday lunch, which also added booyah to the menu (a regional soup that should never be called soup – it’s booyah.) During COVID, they cut Saturday service.
Today, they’re serving about 200 pounds of fish per week. Not bad for two nights and a two-hour Friday lunch.
Per family tradition, three Maricque children work there with Jamie when they’re not at school, plus his niece and sister-in-law help, too. Will one of them lead the next generation at the legendary fish-fry house?
“They all say no, but it’s too early to tell,” Jamie told us.
He’ll remain in charge for now, and his fish fry couldn’t be any finer.
Plan Your Visit
1517 University Ave.
Green Bay, WI 54302
Open Wednesday and Friday for dinner, and Fridays for lunch, too. The restaurant is busiest from 5:30-8 p.m., so come early or late if you want to skip the line. Curbside pickup is available.