• Weird Fish: Vegan Fish and Chips in San Francisco

    June 13th, 2009mr meanermore restaurants (not LA), san francisco

    As a boy growing up in England during the 70s, “fish and chips” were a real staple food for me (yes, the stereotype about us Brits is true). I was never that much into the fish part as my preference was to peel off and eat the crunchy batter with my tiny, newsprint-blackened hands and consume huge mounds of chips and mushy peas at the same time. After becoming vegetarian, I used to eat just the chips and mushy peas — an unbeatable combo of grease and greens!

    So, it was with much anticipation that, on a recent trip to San Francisco, I sampled the offerings of Weird Fish – a pescetarian restaurant in the Mission District that has a vegan Fish and Chips option on the menu. I was quite intrigued to understand how one could veganize the “fish” part of the fish and chips, and my intrigue quickly morphed into a very full belly not long after our order arrived.

    Before we talk about the food, though, it’s worth mentioning that Weird Fish is rather small inside and can get very crowded at meal times. When we were there, around 1pm on a weekday, there was a line outside as well as way too many people cramped over tiny tables inside. Whenever something like that happens, you know you’re either somewhere trendy or somewhere really special. Well, I guess Weird Fish is both trendy and special, something we experience rarely in Los Angeles – usually places are firmly in the trendy or special camp and almost never both.

    buffalo girls: seitan with buffalo sauce & vegan ranch dressing. $7

    buffalo girls: seitan with buffalo sauce & vegan ranch dressing. $7

    We ordered the Buffalo Girls (seitan “chicken” wings with buffalo sauce and vegan ranch dressing) as an appetizer, and were very pleased. Each piece was coated in a perfectly crunchy and spicy batter that was red hot (temperature AND spicy hot), yet the inside was warm and very chewy. I’ve never eaten “real” chicken wings, so I can’t compare these to them, but I can tell you they were absolutely delicious and I’d eat them again in a heartbeat.

    tofu fish and chips: sweet and sour cream vegan soy-batter (gluten free) 2pc $8

    tofu fish and chips: sweet and sour cream vegan soy-batter (gluten free) 2pc $8

    For our main course we ordered one vegan seitan fish and chips (fries for you Americans), which came with vegan tartar sauce, wrapped in soy batter, and one tofu fish and chips entrée which was similarly presented, yet the sauce was vegan sweet and sour cream. At only $8 for two pieces with chips, this was not only a huge portion of food but great value too. If you’re extra hungry, you can get an additional piece of tofu or seitan “fish” for only $3 more. No wonder this place is so crazy busy!

    seitan fish and chips: vegan tartar sause vegan soy-batter (gluten free) 2pc $8

    seitan fish and chips: vegan tartar sause vegan soy-batter (gluten free) 2pc $8

    The tofu choice was a huge, hunking chunk of firm, seasoned tofu with a very steamy inside…


    yet the seitan “fish” was much more chewy (the same inside, I think, as the Buffalo Girls).


    What’s special here is not a chunk of vegetable protein per-se, but what they DO with it. The vegan batter is incredibly tasty, soaked in oil and so crunchy that it breaks into bits that fly all over the place when you bite into it. The chips are also similarly perfectly prepared — probably from fresh potatoes which means you can actually taste the potato rather than the freezer bag that held them for months before you ate them.

    The only downside I can think of for Weird Fish is the humongous amount of oil and calories one must consume when eating there. I must have had over 600 calories (most of them fat) from the one meal I ate. You know what, though? I’d eat that again if it was twice the calories and happily skip another meal to make up for it, even if that meal was at Millennium, allegedly one of the finest vegan dining establishments in the world, where I happened to have a reservation the very same evening I ate at Weird Fish.



    weird fish
    2193 Mission Street,
    San Francisco, CA 94110

    Mon – Fri: 11am – 4pm
    Sat – Sun: 9am – 4pm
    Sun – Thu: 5pm-10:30pm
    Fri & Sat: 5pm-11:30pm

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8 responses to “Weird Fish: Vegan Fish and Chips in San Francisco” RSS icon

  • I will be there in less than month and I’m going to eat exactly what you ate… I can’t wait! Can feel the grease on my lips already 🙂

  • Weird Fish is a place that sounds great in theory, but is actually super disappointing. The problem is that they change their menu EVERY single time I go, and it’s just not worth it anymore.

    For example, they had some great sandwiches on their menu for a long time, including a fried seitan po’ boy. Later they took the fried seitan po’boy off the menu and just had grilled seitan (yuck!). Then they added a philly cheesesteak sandwich. Then they took EVERY sandwich off the menu. After that we decided not to go back. Then we heard that they got the philly cheesesteak back, so we went yesterday to give them another shot. We also wanted to order a side of Capp Street potatoes, but it turns out that they now only serve brunch on the weekends! I ordered my sandwich with a side of tortilla soup, which I usually really love, and it was inedible for me because of the amount of cilantro they decided to put in it that day. They used to have an amazing chipotle vegenaise. The list goes on and on and on.

    That’s not to mention the lame attempt at raising their prices. You used to yet 6 fried pickles in an order, now you only get 4 for the same price. They even went so far as to make their pancakes smaller! I honestly do not think this is a restaurant that is struggling. The time before last when we were there it was a Tuesday at 2 in the afternoon and it was packed. We had to wait for a table. Really.

    I just can’t deal with a place that is that inconsistent, which is really too bad because they do have some great food, just as you described in your post. I guess they’re just too busy opening up cafes next door with nothing vegan on the menu (no really) instead of concentrating on their already existing establishments.

  • damn! that was a long comment. I should get a blog, or a yelp account.

  • Yum! I wish I could figure out how to make batter that good looking. Calories shmalories, the occasional indulgence is necessary for sanity. :c)

  • been staring at this all morning – looks so good.

  • I keep trying to figure out how I can manage a trip to San Francisco to eat here. Yum. I want it.

  • I went today and was sadly disappointed not to find the vegan fish and chips. They had a vegetarian special which was basically rice and stir fried vegetables for thirteen dollars. Not worth it. I also ordered the vegan fried dill pickles which was okay. My fish eating family enjoyed the food though.

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