Zeke's: The Undisputed God of Cod

I recently spent a little time in the Town of the Cow and, as usual, I hit Zeke's (5920 Curzon, off Camp Bowie) for what I consider to be the best fried cod in North Texas.

Them's fightin' words, eh Dallas?

Now don't get upset. You're both pretty. But every time I've tried fish and chips in Big D, the meal always ends with, "Wasn't as good as Zeke's."

Mark Lidell and his family have run Zeke's for more than 40 years. He started out by working for his brother, who bought it four decades ago, and at first, he admits, they had no idea what they were doing since neither of them had experience in the restaurant business or in frying fish. They just liked the place.

But those Lidell boys definitely figured it out, and they've since created a Fort Worth institution. Zeke's dark brown interior wears its age well, and the kitchen staff can be a little goofy, which only adds to the character of the place. On the weekends, especially in the evening, the small dining room is packed. And on Fridays during Lent, it's insane.

Lidell explained that their cod is Icelandic Brand Seafood, which comes from the cold waters of the far North Atlantic. He's tried other varieties, but none produce meat as white and flaky.

Most of Zeke's food is made from scratch, including all the sauces; the tartar sauce has a touch of mustard and the ranch dip, for veggies, has fresh dill. Their veggies, which include mushrooms, okra, eggplant, zucchini and corn nuggets (a must), are breaded and cooked to order, just as the fish is.

For their batter, Lidell explained that they worked to perfect their thick, hearty crust decades ago. It involves pancake mix, corn meal and spices, but he's hesitant to go into specifics.

In addition to cod, Zeke's has catfish, oysters and shrimp. And they'll even bake your fish for you if that's your thing. The cod combo (photo above) comes with two pieces of fish and a choice of two veggies for $10.75.

Since everything is cooked to order, meals take at least fifteen minutes. Just be ready to wait a bit. If you're swinging through and don't have time to sit and dine, call ahead and pick it up at their extremely convenient drive thru window.

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Lauren Drewes Daniels is the Dallas Observer's food editor. She started writing about local restaurants, chefs, beer and kouign-amanns in 2011. She's driven through two dirt devils and is certain they were both some type of cosmic force.