Marquette’s best Friday Fish Fry dinner (?)

Mike Klarin

Stashed away seemingly in the middle of nowhere, on the road between Marquette and K.I. Sawyer, is what may be the area’s best-kept secret in dining.

Aptly named the Crossroads Restaurant and Lounge, the nondescript building located at the intersection of Country Road 553 and 480 has been in business since the 1950s.

While I can’t comment on the food back then, today’s menu is awash with delicious entrees at reasonable prices served in a family-friendly atmosphere.

The first thing you notice as you make your way out to the Crossroads is the unmistakable feeling of being out in the middle of nowhere—that is, until you reach the parking lot full of cars outside the restaurant. Finding a spot isn’t a worry, but you may have to walk a bit to get to the front door. On Friday nights the restaurant is packed during the dinner rush with hungry customers looking for a good fish fry.

The fish fry is a U.P. mainstay—in fact, we had trouble finding a sit-down restaurant that doesn’t serve one in town. Every place has its own take on the offering, but the choices are generally the same: fresh whitefish or trout battered and fried crispy and served in generous proportions.

Did I mention the fish is supposed to be fresh?

We got there at a bad time; the house was packed. Sometimes the wait can be long there, but fortunately a table opened up quickly and a very friendly server seated us.

Pro tip: check out the giant fish tanks in the entryway as you walk to your table. No, they’re not on the menu, but they’re cool to look at—especially if you’re coming in with a bunch of rowdy kids in tow.

For starters, we ordered a few beers and took a gander at the menu. The Crossroads offers a good mix of items from hand-tossed pizzas, half-pound steak burgers, soups and salads, smoked barbecue, and traditional home-style fare such as steak, shrimp or liver and onions if that’s your thing.

Everything sounded really appetizing, but we came to give the fish the old college try. And try, we did.

Before ordering, I double-checked with the server to make sure what we were getting was, in fact, still swimming a short time before we ordered it, but on first taste, I knew there was no question about it.

Our features editor was feeling rather peckish and expressed concern about how large of a portion we were going to get.

“A pretty good size,” our server replied—as it turns out, this was a serious understatement.

The fried whitefish came flaky and moist, with a delicate flavor and meaty texture that can only come from the clean, cold waters of Lake Superior.

The breading was nothing special, but it wasn’t heavy like other interpretations that give you more breading than fish. I also don’t want the flavor of my fish overpowered with extra spices. Our orders came with a side of potato, a small salad, and a toasty piece of garlic bread for less than $15.

Believe me when I tell you, you may have to loosen your belt before you get up to leave.

With alcohol included and a 15% tip, our bills came out to less than $25 apiece, and some of us even had leftovers to take home, which made our student budgets very happy.

While it’s not exactly in the center of the action, it’s an easy drive from both Harvey and downtown Marquette.

Again, you may encounter a wait to be seated, but the restaurant is packed for good reason, especially when Friday rolls around.

Need I say more?