Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hollen Barmer Really Loves Pittsburgh Fish Frys

The creator of the Pittsburgh Lenten Fish Fry Map provides a guide to good eating throughout the Lenten season.

photo courtesy st. Teresa of avila fish fry


March 6 marks the beginning the Lenten season, a time for holy reflection for Christians. For me, it kicks off the 2019 blitz of visiting as many fish frys as I can stomach. To fully optimize my oversized-sandwich-eating experience, I rely on the Pittsburgh Lenten Fish Fry Map. Hollen Barmer, who works for Carnegie Mellon University’s Emerging Technology Center at the Software Engineering Institute, created the map in 2012. In 2016, Code for Pittsburgh got involved by coding the map and helped turn it into a Pittsburgh cultural zeitgeist; last year, the map had more than 26,000 visits and the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh even acknowledged the map in its Lenten newsletter.

The interactive map lets users search for fish frys through the city and suburbs by name or location. Each location is tagged with its address and a few key facts that Barmer says are the most asked questions. Whether there are homemade pierogies is at the top of the list followed by questions about accessibility, the existence of lunch hours and takeout and, for those who want to do a bit of tippling, whether there is alcohol served.

The map started as a way for Barmer, a transplant from Memphis, to help herself and others find fish frys in a city that is sometimes confusing to navigate.

“I’d been to some fish frys and loved them, but I’m bad with directions,” says Barmer. She grew up Southern Baptist and the church basements and community made her nostalgic, so she found a listing for all the Pittsburgh fish frys in the Diocese newsletter and made a simple Google map marking each. Each year she makes a wish list of frys she wants to visit, even taking off Friday afternoons during the season to be able to fit in a lunch and a dinner slot.

“The fish fry isn’t just a one-dimensional experience. It’s a full-on adventure; social, geographic and food-wise,” says Barmer. “I’ve been to fish frys and the food has been mediocre, but then you find someone to talk to.”

Barmer has a few favorites that she tries to get back to. Corpus Christi in McKeesport has earned a spot for their homemade pierogies and haluski noodles that are made from the pierogi trimmings. She also likes Our Lady of Victory Maronite, which has plenty of vegetarian options and Lebanese side dishes. This year she intends to do a little fish fry reconnaissance at the Aliquippa Croatian Club and St. Alphonsus.

The map is run entirely by volunteers. Barmer, Christian Gass and Mark Howe, who handle the hard coding, make up the core team. There is also a yearly Fish Fry Map Update-a-Thon, an event for anyone, tech savvy or not, who wants to help out by working together to verify all of the listed fish frys. 

“After Wednesday night, the map will seem much fuller but it will continue to grow over the Lenten season,” says Barmer.

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit Module Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The Latest

For Three Days, Sesame Street Will be in Pittsburgh

Kids can join Big Bird, Elmo and more Muppets as Sesame Workshop plans three days of events during a stop in Pittsburgh in June.

Penguins’ Lament: ‘To an Extent We Beat Ourselves’

The answer to a self-inflicted postseason sweep must begin with getting the players and their coach back on the same page regarding what’s required for survival in the playoffs.

Picklesburgh to Double in Size for Its Fifth Year

Nation’s top speciality food festival to spill out onto Ft. Duquesne Boulevard.

A Look at The Latest Restaurant Openings in Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh says hello to Alta Via, Leo. A Public House, a new Milk Shake Factory location and more.

Is Your Pittsburgh Street on This Year's Road Repaving List?

The City of Pittsburgh has announced its street paving plan for 2019. You’re one click away from finding out if your street or route to work is on the list.

Downtown Pittsburgh Remains a Classic Rock Haven

PM intern Amanda Myers recounts the radio-rock adventures that life as a Downtown student has made possible.

The 400-Word Review: Master Z: Ip Man Legacy

The latest chapter in the Hong Kong martial-arts franchise gets a Pittsburgh release.

The 400-Word Review: The Curse of La Llorona

The latest chapter in the Conjuring franchise concerns a sinister spirit from folklore.

Details Shine in Metallic Hip-Hop Wedding

A graffiti-decorated cake, a sequined jacket for the groom and a violinist playing hip-hop covers wowed guests at this Strip District wedding.

New Restaurants Coming to Smallman Galley and Federal Galley

Look for New Mexican cuisine, customizable chicken and more as half of the Pittsburgh Galley Group concepts change in the next few months.

Design Goes to the Dogs with BARKitecture

Featuring innovative indoor animal shelters designed by local architects and artists going up for auction, the event at PerLora raises money for Animal Friends.

The 400-Word Review: Hellboy

The cult comic character gets a reboot in this R-rated action flick.

5 Best Spots to Hang Out with Your Dog

For those who can’t stand the idea of leaving their dogs home alone on a beautiful day, these dog-friendly stores, restaurants and bars in the Pittsburgh area welcome humans and canines alike.

The 400-Word Review: The Silence

Netflix's new horror film has a plot unfortunately similar to a giant hit. Can it succeed in spite of that bit of bad luck?

Popular Fried Chicken and Beer Hall Landing in Pittsburgh

The Cincinnati-based restaurant has signed a lease for a 6,000-square-foot space Downtown.