On the Road: Bowpicker Fish & Chips in Astoria, Oregon 

In my book, Autumn is the perfect time to go to the Oregon Coast. The crowds are long gone. The beach is a blend of foggy with bouts of bright light. And best of all, the restaurants and breweries are more local, less mass chaos. If you bundle up and bring rain gear, you might even get Cannon Beach to yourself. 

My non-negotiable stop in Astoria is always Bowpicker Fish and Chips. I’ve made the drive out to the coast, in fact, to eat there. This pilgrimage is worth it since I’ve not successfully found a Chippy shop that I love here in Utah (if you know of one, let me know). They are ostensibly a food truck, but they operate out of an old gillnet boat rather than a truck. It is easily visible across from the Columbia River Maritime Museum, which is also worth a visit.

Photo by Lydia Martinez

Bowpicker is unique (and worth the drive to the coast from Portland) because they use tuna instead of halibut or cod. That’s right. Fish and chips made with fresh tuna. Stay with me here. It is unconventional, I know, to deep fry tuna. Most people have tuna one of three ways: out of a can, thoroughly cooked; at a sushi restaurant, totally raw; a mix of the two, barely seared so that the outside is cooked and the inside raw. Bowpicker throws that convention to the wind. I was nervous the first time I ordered, but the tuna arrives at the window every time cooked through but still tender and moist, protected by the batter. 

Their website’s official description is: “Firm chunks of Albacore tuna lightly beer battered and fried to perfection by Ron and Linda, they stand ready to soak up malt vinegar and scoop tartar sauce. The bed of thick steak fries, crunchy outside and tender inside, are much more than a side dish.” I have yet to meet Ron or Linda, but they are magicians in serving up one thing and one thing only to perfection. 

Here are a few things to keep in mind when you visit:

  • There will be a line. It is worth the wait.
  • Double-check that they are open on social media. Just in case. 
  • Don’t bother on Sunday or Monday. They are for sure closed. 
  • If it is extra extra windy, they may have to close. They can’t keep the fryers lit. In their words, “Sometimes the weather dictates our day.”
  • They are open until they sell out. You only have yourself to blame if you don’t arrive early.
  • Bring cash. Otherwise, you are out of luck.
  • Talk to everyone around you while you wait in line. Just do it. 
  • Add malt vinegar. Even if it is only a few drops. Don’t argue that you don’t like vinegar. You do like it on the day you visit Bowpicker. 
  • Just get the whole order instead of the half order. Or you’ll have to get back in line when you realize you made a mistake.

Once I wrap up at The Bowpicker, and since I can’t get a beer with my fish and chips, I walk 3 minutes up the road to Fort George Brewery + Public House. Really, it is a short walk. I timed it for you. I love their seasonal beers, but I generally get either a Tideland Stout, “the place where stout meets barrel-aged stout,” or a Short Sands Lager, “floral and fruity, malty and toasty.” If you are a fan of IPAs, like my husband, they have those aplenty. An excellent local beer ties a nice *ahem* bow on the trip to Astoria. 

Photo by Lydia Martinez

If you Visit: 

Find The Bowpicker Fish & Chips at the Corner of 17th & Duane St. Astoria, OR 

Open 11 am – 5ish, Tuesday – Saturday (Weather permitting)

Find Fort George Brewery at 1483 Duane St, Astoria, OR 

The taproom is open from 11 am – 10 pm daily


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Lydia Martinez
Lydia Martinezhttp://www.saltlakemgazine.com
Lydia Martinez is a freelance food, travel, and culture writer. She has written for Salt Lake Magazine, Suitcase Foodist, and Utah Stories. She is a reluctantly stationary nomad who mostly travels to eat great food. She is a sucker for anything made with lots of butter and has been known to stay in bed until someone brings her coffee. Do you have food news? Send tips to lydia@saltlakemagazine.com

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