Doug’s Fish Fry | Upstate New York Seafood Best

Review by: Michael Stern

What to Order

Visit Doug’s Fish Fry and you find convincing evidence that upstate New York seafood is a regional treat to take seriously. Choose either a sandwich, a fish dinner, or a fish onion dinner. If you’re new to Doug’s, those titles might mislead you. Order a sandwich and you get two or three large hunks of fried fish piled in and around a modest, no-account bun. Like a tenderloin from the heartland, the presentation pushes the envelope of what, exactly, a sandwich is. This bun can’t hold half the fish on the plate. Adds beautiful chunky French fries to the pseudo-sandwich and it becomes a fish dinner. Add onion rings and you’ve got a fish onion dinner.

A sandy crust with just the right amount of crunch jackets fish that is moist, sweet, and gentle-flavored. Pickly tartar sauce is surprisingly unsweet. Sweetness comes in the form of Doug’s finely chopped and fetchingly spicy cole slaw.

(Doug’s also fries shrimp, scallops, and chicken strips.)

Casual Comfort

Eat-in-the-rough at Doug’s. Place your order at the stand-up counter (from which you enjoy an appetizing view of fish and fries coming out of the hot oil). Pay for the meal and wait for your name to be called. Fetch utensils from a table in the center of the dining room. Here you find all the accoutrements for enjoying upstate New York seafood: plastic forks and knives, ketchup and mustard, and malt vinegar for spritzing on fries.

Farm-Country Dessert

Bonus: Doug’s makes dense and creamy soft-serve custard. Throughout the warm weather months the custard serves as a foundation for warm fruit sundaes. The available compote, made right here from the fruit of the season, begins with strawberries and blueberries early in the summer, then moves to peaches, and finally to apples in the fall. Glorious!

Note: the original Doug’s is located in Skaneateles, NY. Doug’s also serves its fish fry in the Horticulture Building at the New York State Fair, starting in late August.

What To Eat

Fish Sandwich

French Fries

Custard Sundae

Fish Onion Dinner

Blueberry Sundae


Doug’s Fish Fry | Upstate New York Seafood Best Recipes


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2 Responses to “Doug’s Fish Fry | Upstate New York Seafood Best”

Richard Cuff

April 24th, 2004

With a college buddy hailing from Skaneateles, Doug’s has been a regular pilgrimage. My wife is not a big seafood fan, but even she loves a visit to Doug’s, especially when the weather is decent and you can stroll the town.

While I haven’t tried Doug’s other locations, the Mattydale location looks to be particularly helpful for through travelers — it’s just off Interstate 81 one exit north of its interchange with Interstate 90 — the New York Thruway, making it more accessible than the Skaneateles or Cortland locations.

It’s the combination of excellent quality that I love about Doug’s — not only the fish, mild with a batter that doesn’t overpower, onion rings with a well-above-average batter, and the tart cole slaw. An unbeatable combination.

The bustle about the place makes it a great stop when traveling with kids — they’ll enjoy watching the activity at the counter and in the kitchen.


Dick Tito

November 9th, 2003

I visited the Doug’s in Skaneateles over the recent Halloween Weekend. The fried fish in Doug’s was outstanding, as was the overall atmosphere of the place. Maybe because it was so warm relative to what you expect in Upstate NY on October 31, but the whole town seemed to be trick or treating. And many of the costumed folks found their way into Doug’s for a little fried sustenance to help them make it through the evening. I would especially recommend the fried scallops with unbelievably tasty onion rings – not that the fish on my wife’s plate didn’t look (and taste!) good, but the scallops made you think you were visiting the seashore, not the prettiest town in the Finger Lakes. I assume the rest of the Doug’s are just as good, but you’d have to go a long way to beat the satisfaction we experienced in Skaneateles. If anyone is traveling through Central NY State, find your way to Route 20 and the center of town – it’ll be a taste treat you won’t soon forget.


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