Fast Food Review: Filet-O-Fish from McDonald’s

The battle for fast food fish supremacy continues today with the leader of them all.  A classic that’s been around since 1962, the Filet-O-Fish from McDonald’s.Filet-O-Fish BoxWhile it’s true that a fish sandwich isn’t at the top of my list when I’m looking for a quick bite, I do recognize their importance in the industry.  You would figure that a place like McDonald’s, with their “Billions and Billions Served” claim, would step it up a notch with it’s offering.  We all know that McD’s isn’t known for the highest quality offerings yet still remains top dog.  Like it or not, they have brand recognition and still lead the pack.  To give McDonald’s credit, I have noticed positive changes in terms of quality (more than before anyways).  I think a lot of people just stick to what they’re used to for the most part and that has helped with it’s success.  McDonald’s is a place that most people grow up with if they are exposed to fast food as children.  I think the exposure is a top reason why McDonald’s remains #1 even with so many alternatives around these days.  I don’t frequent McDonald’s much at all and when I do I’ll usually go for the Fruit and Walnut Salad and a BBQ Grilled Chicken Snack Wrap.Filet-O-FishThe last time I had a Filet-O-Fish was about 5 months ago and I recall it being pretty average, just like I remembered from years passed.  On my most recent purchase I noticed how small this sandwich has gotten.  Am I crazy or has this thing shrunk?  I’m 5 ft 11″ and 175lbs and felt like Shaquille O’Neal holding this sandwich. It’s your standard battered whitefish patty, a half slice of processed cheese, a heap of tarter sauce with dill relish mixed in all on a steamed bun.  The fish patty is pretty simple and nothing too different than what you’d find in a frozen food section at a supermarket.  It is a breaded square patty that tastes decent and is pleasantly moist with a very subtle crunch. The slice of cheese seems like less than half a slice to me but that’s probably a good thing.  I’m not too keen on cheesy fish.  The tarter sauce is tangy and tasty and the bun is always soft and fresh.  At regular menu price of $3.09 it is among one of the worst values I’ve come across.  I swear this thing isn’t any bigger than the $1 McDouble.  It’s not filling at all for the sandwich alone.  If you have a big hunger, be prepared to order some extras.  All that being said, I enjoyed the Filet-O-Fish a lot more than the BK Big Fish from Burger King in the taste department. I’ll give the Wendy’s Premium Fish Fillet the advantage in taste and size.  Please McDonald’s, I know the economy is bad but $3.09 for this sandwich alone is robbery.  I was pleased to see it offered at $1.19 for a limited time in the Washington DC Metro Area.  That special price will go away once Lent is over though.

Are my hands getting bigger or is the sandwich getting smaller?

Filet-O-Fish in handI hate to tell McDonald’s what is working and what’s not.  They are the fast food giants for a reason.  From a consumer standpoint that is completely open to the options around me, this goes under the “few and far between” category for me.  This sandwich has stood the test of time and it’s simple and successful.  Overall, the Filet-O-Fish is pretty average and would definitely be improved by being a better value.  We all know McDonald’s isn’t going to mess with the 40+ year classic taste.Filet-O-Fish Collage

Pros: I like the simple, soft steamed bun. Tasty tarter sauce with pickle relish. It's a classic.

Cons: Terrible value. Seems to be getting smaller. Lower quality than Wendy's Premium Fish Fillet Sandwich.

Taste: 6.25/10
Value: 4.75/10
Grubbing on-the-go: 7.50/10
Price: $3.09

Overall GrubGrade: 6.00/10

More Info:
Nutrition Facts:
Filet-O-Fish Nutrition Info

36 comments on “Fast Food Review: Filet-O-Fish from McDonald’s

  1. Cassaendra says:

    Recently had one (shared the 2/$1.00 with my husband) and it was as I remembered it. I hadn’t had one in at least 20 years, since I much prefer the Whaler…BK Big Fish, as far as fast food fish burgers go.

    I have to agree that the bun at McD is great. I will always remember my compulsion to pat it because they are so perfectly smooth and cute. The size factor over time doesn’t seem so drastic in comparision to the BK Big Fish though. That thing was a monster when I was a kid, and I know haven’t grown THAT much. What edges out the BK BF over FoF is the lettuce, for me.

    Even though it seems like wasteful packaging, I was impressed with the nutrition facts on the packaging.

  2. Adam says:

    Take away the tarter sauce and cheese and this is actually one of the healthier fast food deals you can find. I’ll have to check it out!

  3. wonders says:

    It’s been $3 for 2 for the past month here in nyc. They’ve always reminded me of the fish in school, that had the cheese already inside.

  4. Great review (haha on the Shaq reference). I’ve never tried one of these but wouldn’t mind one. I just never got by the weird feeling of eating fish at a fast food place.

    I think the Filet-O-Fish have a cult following just like the McRib and will always do good.

    This is spot on, “I think a lot of people just stick to what they’re used to for the most part and that has helped with it’s success. McDonald’s is a place that most people grow up with if they are exposed to fast food as children.” At least very true for me.

    I DO think McDonald’s is trying somewhat…look at the salad offerings, the chicken selects, the kid’s meals with the apple slices and the nutrition facts right on the packaging!

    I do find it hilarious though when people dump tons of Ranch dressing (mayonnaise; buttermilk) on top of their cheese and bacon topped salads and think they’re healthy. When will they learn?

  5. Meghan says:

    I don’t know…the idea of eating fast food fish has always freaked me out. If I go to McDick’s I’m for sure getting a burger, hand-down. Have you seen what they serve overseas, though? It’s crazy!

  6. Ryan says:

    Yeah, McDonald’s in other countries has some bizarre stuff. Anyone interested…check this out:

  7. rob says:

    Pretty much all fish served in restaurants has been frozen so no big deal eating it in a fast food place, probably a lot safer than chicken.

  8. Here’s a much more comprehensive list of strange McDonald’s menu items:

  9. James says:

    I do not agree with the outcome of this review.

    The Filet-O-Fish is my most favorite menu in my view it still is the best deal at McDonald’s

    OK you can be unlucky. Like one time my bread was hard and then the time that the cheese was on top of my bun 🙁 read about it here

    But for me the fish burger gets much higher points!

  10. Bryan says:

    They are sorta inconsistent – I’ve had some good and bad FoFs before. I have to agree that it’s the price that needs to stay around $1.50 or so instead of three bucks. The worst thing for me about it is the constant over-tartaring. I’ve often thought about telling them to go easy, but there are too many stories of “problem orders” resulting in a Spit-o-Fish sandwich in my neck ‘o the woods…

  11. […] Something Smells Fishy Grub Grade does the most in-depth review of the McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish sandwich I have ever r… […]

  12. Kain says:

    I dont have them very often here in the UK, kinda have to be in the mood!

    Never had a bad one though, but I hold the sauce or swap it for Maccy’s curry dip 😀

  13. Kai says:

    this is the commercial they play in the DC area

  14. Evan says:

    I don’t care for the fish filet, but I do love their tarter sauce for my french fries!

  15. Dawn says:

    I love this sandwich – but I always ask for it without cheese. Cheesy fish? Yuck. Thanks for the review.

  16. […] is the king of fish sandwiches when it’s lined up against industry titans, McDonald’s (Filet-O-Fish reviewed) and Burger King (BK Big Fish reviewed).  I did enjoy the Wendy’s Premium Fish Fillet […]

  17. […]  Filet-O-Fish from McDonald’s – GrubGrade: 6.00/10 […]

  18. cress says:

    Damn good. Steamed bun and melts in your mouth. Tartar sauce is quite tasty. BKs’ is TOO BIG with GOBS of tartar/caulk combined with soggy hulk-green lettuce. The Wendys fish sandwich was very good, but McDs’ was a better, satisfying flavor.

  19. […] all squeezed in between two sheets of fluffy PVC, think again. Cause you’re about to commit a culinary crime equivalent to murder in the first degree. The real Filet-o-Fish. Photo by […]

  20. Marie Hudson says:

    Had a fillet o fish yesterday,the bun as always was beautiful, steamed fresh,fish and sauce were good but the cheese was disgusting,it was dark yellow and tasted terrible,you could’nt even remove it from the bun as it was very gummy..,even the children that were with me complained .I always buy fillet o fish ,this is the first time I didn’t like the cheese in it.
    Thank you.

  21. anonomous says:

    you just saved my life

  22. Mike says:

    I recently used a 2 for 1 coupon for fish sandwiches
    at McDonalds. Our local McD prices them at $4 ea.
    I guess I hadn’t paid attention for years. So this made it 2 for $4.
    I saw the price on the screen in the drive through and figured they must have upgraded their fish sandwich or something. This 2-fer thing must be to launch a new and better McDonalds fish sandwich. Alright!
    Did I ever feel like a dumb-ass when I saw that I had been suckered into paying $4 for 2 of their ‘classic’ fish sandwiches.
    I consider it the White Castle hamburger of Fish Sandwiches.
    If you’ve never heard of White Castle, you might want to Google it.
    I called the “tell us how we’re doing” number on the bag and let them know what I thought of their “sucker” promotion.
    They use a 3rd party company for that department who told me that corporate does not set the price…each owner does that.
    That didn’t really make me feel any better. They offered to have someone from that franchise call me …but I told them they had
    already wasted too much of my time and money.
    I think it’s a $1 to $2 sandwich any way you look at it. I was disappointed to see that they still serve the same fish sandwich they had when telephones had rotary dials and our standards were much lower.
    Imagine how Chevrolet would be doing if they still produced the the same Chevette they did it in the late 70’s, except with a 2010 price. I’d better be careful, I forgot I’m talking to the new owners.
    If it was a buck, you would at least have been given fair warning that it was the same old TV dinner grade garbage.

  23. Jeff says:

    I still love their simple fish sandwiches

  24. biffburgerfan says:

    It is probably the biggest rip in the fast food business from the consumer standpoint. Also, if it isn’t assembled right, the sliver of cheese won’t touch the fish square, it will be beside it.

    If I remember, back in the early 70’s, wasn’t there a whole slice of cheese on it? Or has it always been a ‘half.

  25. biffburgerfan says:

    Two filet-o-fish, large fry, and large Coke and you’re into a 10 buck lunch.

  26. Barbara Catlin says:

    Today, after several years, ordered a McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish and was shocked at the price – $3.19. The money taker gave me the total and I asked her to please check the fish price for me…I didn’t believe it could be that price. She said she did not have the individual prices on her “computer” – just the grand total. She had to check inside the store for the real price – $3.19! And until I read the earlier customer replies I did not know that there was to supposed to be cheese on top. All mine had was the tartar sauce. When I consider I can get a double cheeseburger with all the goodies on top for $1.19 and it cost me $3.19 for a plain filet-o-fish, well who got ripped off??

  27. R. Moose says:

    It only has 1/2 a slice of cheese.. always had. From what I understand this is the same portion size it has always been.

    The Double-Filet-O-Fish is kinda overkill.

    At 99c to 1.49 it is a decent value. For $2.99-3.99, it isn’t.

    According to this site, the Arby’s Fish sandwich is #1. Haven’t tried it yet.

  28. Mike C says:

    I too loved the Filet-O-Fish in the 60’s as it was the only sandwich my brother and I ordered; however, in those days the Filet-O-Fish was made with EGG BREAD BUNs, not white bread buns. So in addition to the it being bigger in size, they used better ingredients.

  29. Poppins says:

    I went in for a filet here in Vegas when i saw the price of 3.50 I turned around and walked out.

  30. Pat says:

    I just finished a fish sandwich at Mids paid a crazy 618.00 WITH A SMALL SHAKE. In Manhattan we get a half pound burger and fries at Blarney stone for the Sam price.

  31. […] is the king of fish sandwiches when it’s lined up against industry titans, McDonald’s (Filet-O-Fish reviewed) and Burger King (BK Big Fish reviewed).  I did enjoy the Wendy’s Premium Fish Fillet […]

  32. […] is a simple offering of an extra crisp breaded chicken patty and the same bun you’ll find on the Filet-O-Fish and the same pickles you get on the McDonald’s Double Cheeseburger. The McDonald’s […]

  33. […] something a little more, uh, traditional? Wednesday special McDonald’s $1.29 Filet-o-Fish with Mama Utz Kettle Chips cooked in lard. Fish and Chips, my way.Clearly, there is a way to make […]

  34. Obbop says:

    PETA proclaims that our finny friends are actually “sea kittens” as seen there—->

    It might be fun to enter McD and ask for a “sea kitten sandwich, please.”

    Sadly, with a few very minor cases of ocean-going fish populations holding steady in general, seafood quality has been and is declining.

    Us oldsters may recall the higher quality of canned tuna back in the 1960s and, up to the 1970s, the higher quality of fish offered at the more numerous fish & chips outlets.

    London fish & chips in our part of California had BIG portions of BIG slabs of fish so very tasty and of much higher quality than typically found nowadays.

    Another factor is that the highest-quality fish are either caught by foreign fishing fleets and much to all of the highest-graded fish shipped to Japan where some species of a single fish can be sold for many thousands of USA dollars (well, sold in Yen but the equivalent in USA money is thousands of our greenbacks).

  35. […] my family would go meatless on Friday’s during Lent, and I do still enjoy the novelty of the Filet-o-Fish, but I’d just as soon splurge on good sardines if I’m going to take meat out of my […]

  36. Fry Lover says:

    I had a McD’s fish sandwich last week and was shocked when I saw how much the box and sandwich had shrunk since I last had one in ’10. WTH?? Initially, I thought I had been punked, but figured “too late now” since driving all the way back to the restaurant wasn’t worth the ga$.

    The only redeeming factor was the taste.

    Tastes great/Not worth the cost!