Final Four – Friday Fishtacular 2021

ROUND 1: Carl’s Jr. vs. Popeyes

Fresh off the win against Jack in the Box, Carl’s Jr. now faces tough competition from Popeyes. Popeyes’ Cajun Flounder sandwich is a full dollar more expensive than Carl’s Jr.’s Beer-Battered fish sandwich, and that may be enough to swing favor. But Popeyes swings flavor, and clobbers Carl.

Win goes to Popeyes, who now advances to the Big Dance.

ROUND 2: McDonald’s vs. Angelo’s Burgers

In a startling upset over Slater’s 50/50, McDonald’s pushes itself into the Final Four. But this won’t be an easy battle, as Angelo’s is playing to win. Mickey D’s venerable Filet-O-Fish finds itself punching way above its weight class, literally, as Angelo’s brobdingnagian fish sandwich is a sight to behold. It was almost over before it started, and Angelo’s steamrolled over McDonald’s.

The plucky little North County chain advances to the Big Dance.

The Big Dance: Popeyes vs. Angelo’s Burgers

It’s tough to compare these two, which are both really good fish sandwiches. Popeyes brings a tasty-and-unique Cajun-seasoned fish to the table, which even I can tolerate (and I’m the guy who asks the server “Do you have anything like mayonnaise, but not as spicy?”). Dressed minimally with pickles and tartar sauce within a buttery brioche and served in a thermal bag, it’s become my go-to sandwich from the chain. And up the coast in Oceanside are three Angelo’s drive-thrus (a fourth in Encinitas is closed while undergoing renovations), and their fish sandwich is no slouch. It’s a massive offering that comes in a butcher paper “burger diaper” in order to prevent slippage. The fish portion is maybe no larger than other contenders — something I may need to examine next year — but it comes dressed with a lot of shredded lettuce, two tomato slices, a few pickles, tartar sauce and a sesame seed bun. It’s essentially a side salad. It’s $7.50 but legitimately worth it.

I revisited both sandwiches this past week in order to check for inconsistencies and to refresh my memory. This year, the best Fast Food/Fast Casual Fishtacular Regional Champ is Angelo’s Burger’s fish sandwich.

Congratulations! Now let’s go tip over some cop cars and set some couches on fire.

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