Tell me... how far is Billings, Montana from the ocean? 1000 miles or so... maybe more? It's a long ways, but if you're in the mood for some of the best fish and chips served in Montana... or for that matter the entire world, you don't have to travel to either the west or the east coast... all you have to do is to travel to the "coast" of Montana, at Crazy Mary's Fish and Chips, in Billings, Montana.
As with all of reviews that I publish, I have no affiliation with the restaurant reviewed, and there is no monetary gain on my part, as I am simply a person who likes to eat, and I love to write-up, and publish my dining experiences.
Photo: Crazy Mary's Fish and Chips is located in a small building on 6th Avenue North in Billings, Montana. Fish and chips in Billings? When I heard about Crazy Mary's, I just HAD to hit this restaurant, as when I think of fish and chips, Billings just doesn't come to mind. Anyway, it's 7 in the early evening of Thursday, August 24, 2017, and I arrived at Crazy Mary's to see the restaurant, complete with burger bars.
Photo: The parking lot didn't seem all that full, but when I walked into the restaurant on this early Thursday evening, the small dining room was PACKED. Luck for me, Crazy Mary has a counter, with a view of the open kitchen, and the counter was vacant, which worked well into my dining plans.
Photo: As you enter the restaurant, there is a bulletin board which business cards from customers, an article in the local newspaper about the wonders of Crazy Mary's, and just about everything else you could hope to find. Like the good sailor I am, I pinned my business card to the bulletin board, and added it to the collection.
Photo: There is a nautical display at the end of the kitchen that "sort of" hides it from the dining room. Note: The kitchen isn't hidden, as it's plainly visible from the counter, and you can watch the amazing friendly staff in action. The entire restaurant is decorated with nets, shells and all varieties of marine life. This small seafood diner reminds me of a seafood restaurant that you'd find on the Oregon coast. Nautical character in Billings? You bet... Crazy Mary's Fish and Chips.
Photo: A blackboard, yes an "old school" blackboard using chalk is posted above the counter, advertising the daily specials. I love the "Order here, Pay here... Sometimes Pick up here." Priceless.
Photo: It's 7:13 on this Thursday evening, and despite the fact the small dining room is full, I have the counter all to myself, where I can chit-chat with very busy Crazy Mary as she deep fries fish for her customers. I love the sign that's posted near the clock that reads, literally, "Attn: Today's Special Coupon's. Doesn't mean free or spliting. If your name's not on it, or if your broke, you need to purchase something. I'm not Corporate. (I'm trying to be fair.) That's how the sign reads, and it pretty well says it all, complete with grammatical and spelling errors.
Photo: As I sit at the counter, Mary greets me as she works in the kitchen, which is completely open to the counter. Mary is the owner of the restaurant and she, and host, Richard, were the only staff working the restaurant on this busy Thursday evening. Both Mary and Richard enthusiastically embraced my photo-taking, especially when I told them my plans to publish an article on this web site.
Photo: Tonight's menu. My eyes stopped on the first item, the "Catch of the Day," and never left, so that was my choice for dinner. The dinner is basically fish and chips served with one side; I chose cole slaw as my side.
Photo: My friendly host, Richard, delivers an optional bowl of clam chowder, with a smile. The menu didn't say anything about clam chowder, but I noticed a big pot simmering in the kitchen, so I asked Richard about it, and he said it was clam chowder, which was on the blackboard - I should have read the blackboard better! - but not on the menu. I said, "Bring me a bowl of clam chowder" and my wish was fulfilled.
Photo: My small bowl of clam chowder. I've enjoyed many bowls of clam chowder during my 60+ years of eating, and I've enjoyed clam chowder up and down the west coast, from San Diego to Bellingham, but this clam chowder is as good as it gets! If I closed my eyes, I'd think I was in Newport, Oregon at Mo's Restaurant, enjoying some of the best clam chowder on the planet. I opened my eyes and realized I was at Crazy Mary's Fish and Chips, in Billings, Montana.
Photo: I'm perched on a stool, sitting all by myself at the counter, as I look into the crowded dining room on this early Thursday evening.
Photo: One of my rewards for sitting at the counter is that I'm awarded a nearly unrestricted view of the kitchen, and Mary at work, as she removes my half-pound fillet from the deep fryer. Note the kitchen is mostly deep fryers, as deep fried fish is the staple of the menu. Mary may be called "Crazy Mary," but she's anything but crazy, as she knows how to cook some of the best deep fried fish that I've ever had the pleasure to enjoy.
Photo: Mary, the owner of the restaurant, is truly a nice person, and she cooks some of the best deep fried fish that I've ever eaten. I give her a bear hug, just before she brings my dinner to me.
Photo: "Crazy" Mary brings my half pound dinner of fish and chips with a smile. I'm still working on the bowl of clam chowder, due to all of the photos I've been taking in this exocentric restaurant.
Photo: Thanks, Mary, for snapping my photo as I get ready to enjoy an amazing basket of fish and chips. You can see into the kitchen to the left of the photo, and the small dining room is visible behind me. It was interesting to note that just before I finished dinner, around 8 in the evening, the dining room mostly cleared out of customers. I remarked to Mary, "Did my photo taking scare away your customers?" She laughed.
Photo: I ordered the "Catch of the Day," which includes one side, in my case, that was cole slaw, with an optional bowl of clam chowder. "Catch of the Day" is a beer-battered, half pound Haddock fillet, beer battered, and deep fried. It's served with fries - chips - along with a slice of lemon and tartar sauce. This is one of the best dinners of fish and chips that I've ever had the pleasure to enjoy! As an aside, the menu offers to poach your fish, rather than deep frying, but I just wonder how many people opt for the poaching option? Certainly not me!
Photo: Fish and chips, in all of their glory. Mary told me she grew up in Massachusetts and learned how to cook fish on the east coast, and 20 years or so ago, migrated west to Billings, and now serves the best fish and chips in the State of Montana.
Crazy Mary's Fish and Chips is an amazing restaurant, as Mary and Richard are super friendly people. Mary is a true character, a fun person, and the fish and chips are better than any fish and chips that I've enjoyed on the California and Oregon coasts. Mary makes some seriously good fish and chips! If fish and chips is your "catch," and you're in Billings, Montana, don't miss the best fish and chips EVER... Crazy Mary's Fish and Chips!
Crazy Mary's Fish and Chips
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