A local fishing guide’s recommendations on where to eat, drink, and tell fish stories after a day of Lake Erie fishing.
Skiers call it après. Golfers call it the 19th hole. Anglers experienced in good living know that the best way to cap off a great day on the water is with a great evening in a booth or on a barstool.
The shores of Lake Erie do not lack suitable locations for eating, drinking, and telling fish stories. Capt. Ross Robertson has guided anglers toward walleyes and watering holes for more than two decades and has more recommendations than you could belly up to in a month. Here are a few of his favorites for warming up—and fueling up—after a big day on the big lake.
Jolly Roger’s Seafood House – Port Clinton
Best Fish Dinner
You can always tell a good restaurant by its parking lot and wait lines. Jolly Roger’s, right outside downtown Port Clinton, is always full–even in the chilly off-season.
“You can watch them bread the fish and cook it right in front of you,” Ross said. The line to order food snakes past a big window separating hungry customers from a breading machine conveyor belt running fresh Lake Erie yellow perch fillets through batter and breading. The clean kitchen runs as a well-oiled machine, serving thousands of visitors every day.
The Fish-n-Chips platters are the staple, followed by the Fish Dinners. The menu also offers tacos, sandwiches, salads, and quinoa bowls with either locally caught walleye and perch or more exotic mahi mahi and shrimp. This place is a Lake Erie institution.
Topsey Turvey’s Bar and Grill – Put-in Bay, South Bass Island
Best Bassd Islands Bar
On Sept. 10, 1813, the United States defeated the British Navy at Put-In Bay on South Bass Island. The victory allowed the U.S. to retake Detroit and ultimately prevail in the War of 1812. Any angler with the slightest interest in American history will love a visit to the Bass Islands offshore of Marblehead–either by ferry or a charter boat lunch stop-in.
There are more than 40 bars on South Bass, earning it the nickname “the Key West of Lake Erie.” Ross enjoys many of them but often takes clients to his old standby.
“While Put-In Bay has many bars and restaurants, Topsey Turvey’s is the one open year-round and a great place to grab a drink and bite to eat after a successful day on the water,” he said.“ Topsey has a large patio for nice days and plenty of inside seating when the weather isn’t as agreeable.”
Casa Las Palmas – Port Clinton
Where the locals eat
One of Ross’ favorite places might not seem like a traditional post-angling affair, but it’s more than worth the trip off the beaten path.
“They always say to look for the place where locals eat,” Ross said. “In Port Clinton, that’s Las Palmas.”
Ross recommends the Molcajete and a house margarita but says the entire menu is very tasty.
“They’re really good, reasonably priced meals, and they turn tables fast, so even if it looks busy, you won’t wait long,” he said. “As fishing guys, you generally don’t wanna spend three hours at dinner.”
McCarthey’s Restaurant & Pub – Downtown Port Clinton
Best downtown location for eating and drinking
Port Clinton is Walleye Town, and McCarthey’s is the center of Port Clinton. Located across the street from the fish company, the bait shop, and the charter dock, it’s an easy rendezvous point for a post-adventure beverage.
Irish pubs provide reliable fun the world over, and this one does not disappoint. A large wrap-around bar top with dozens of beers on tap provides space for rubbing elbows and sharing stories from the day. The food exceeds your typical pub fare, with special wings and house-made chips to dress with malt vinegar and your favorite fixins’. A short walk from most hotels in town, this is almost a necessary stop to appreciate the culture of one of the world’s walleye fishing capitals.