Fish and chips - it's every Australian's favourite thing to eat at the beach

Sun umbrella, tick. Beach towel, tick. Fish and chips and a world-class beach to eat them on? Yes please.

A plate of fish and chips
  • Helen Hawkes
  • January 2020

Sunshine, surf, squelchy sand between your toes and a relaxed crowd of bikini and boardie-clad beachgoers… what’s not to love?

One quarter of Aussies daydream about a beach holiday, according to a recent Jetstar beach survey, and 86 per cent think Australia has the best beaches in the world.

And while you might guess that swimming is the most popular beach activity, what might surprise you is that ice-cream isn’t the number one snack. Instead, 60 per cent of people said they loved eating fish and chips on their beach holiday.

Fish and chips taste better at the beach

Never mind the sand in your barramundi, everything tastes better outdoors, says Steven Snow, owner/chef of the 2019 Best Seafood Restaurant in Australia, Fins opens in new window, 15 minutes from the Gold Coast Airport. “The romance of waves, family, friends, sea air and fun enhance the taste of anything, especially fish and chips,” he says.

Scientists agree. An Oxford University study opens in new window concluded that because the brain can match up sounds and tastes it’s likely that listening to the ocean will make fish and chips a gourmet experience. Steven adds that, because our first experience of eating fish is usually as children, this takeaway is also linked with happy childhood memories.

A plate of fish and chips
Fish and chips takes the crown for Aussie's preferred beach snack.

“In my childhood it was our family’s Friday night specialty. The crunch of the batter over fresh fish was addictive.” He recommends choosing the best line caught fish, be it mulloway, whiting or what’s biting, for your seafood takeaway.

A dish with a multicultural past, fish and chips are thought to date back to the 17th century and first recorded to be served in London. While there’s no doubt this beachside favourite is now an iconic Aussie pastime, have a Greek to thank for introducing this popular pairing down under; Athanasias Comino opened his shop in a former fishmongers on Sydney’s Oxford Street, just twenty years after the dish first arrived in London.

Where to get the best fish and chips

As a country famed for its beautiful beaches, it’s no surprise that many restaurants have perfected the art of serving this tasty duo with an unrivalled beach setting. Some of the best restaurants for fish and chips across Australia include The Captain’s Daughter opens in new window in Queensland’s Perigian Beach.

Also worth checking out is the city beach branch of Clancy’s Fish Bar opens in new window in Freemantle, WA, and Captain Moonlite opens in new window on the Great Ocean Road in Victoria. Meanwhile in NSW, you can’t go past Sydney’s Doyles in Watson’s Bay.

For more Sydney options, here are the best fish and chips in Sydney opens in new window.