WHERE: St. Cecilia Catholic Church, 906 Eichelberger St.

WHEN: Fridays in Lent, 4:30 to 8 p.m.

HOW MUCH: Dinners: $10. Dessert, soda, beer and à la carte items available for additional cost.

St. Cecilia’s has become well-known around town for its unique fry, which features several Mexican dishes in addition to the requisite fish offerings.

Guests got a choice of two entrees: jack salmon, cod fillet, chile relleno, bean tostada or fried cheese quesadilla. Two sides also were part of the dinner deal: mac & cheese, French fries, cole slaw, or rice and beans. Coffee and lemonade were included in the dinner price, as well. We tried all of the entrees and most of the sides, and while all of the food was excellent, the chile relleno stood out as our favorite dish. The hefty chile was stuffed with cheese and coated in a crispy corn batter—spicy and delicious! Our meals also came with a tasty variety of salsas. One note of caution: Our salmon still had its bones, so be advised.

THE ‘REEL’ DEAL: As we mentioned above, St. Cecilia’s fish fry has garnered quite a following, so be prepared to wait a bit. We arrived just minutes after the doors opened, and there already was a substantial line inside the church gym. The way this fry was set up, diners placed their orders and paid the cashier, got a number to place on their table, and their food was delivered to them. It took us 30 minutes to make it to the cashier, and another 20 minutes for our food to arrive after we placed our order. The wait didn’t seem too onerous, though, because the folks at St. Cecilia’s really knew how to keep the line moving in an orderly fashion, and beer, soda and chips were available for purchase along the route to make the time pass a bit easier. There was even a roving tamale cart that made the rounds, and some young parishioners on hand to entertain the crowd with Mexican dancing.

The event was planned and executed really well. Despite the large crowd, there was ample seating in the gym, as well as in two adjacent rooms, and there were plenty of volunteers on hand to bus tables and deliver orders. While cash was definitely king, credit cards were accepted for purchases more than $10. We found St. Cecilia’s fish fry to be a delectable alternative to the usual Lenten Friday feast.

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