Ultimate Fish Fry Bracket

Ultimate Pittsburgh Fish Fry face off: Swissvale VFD vs. Ancient Order of Hibernians Division #32

Will the fire hall or social club reign supreme?

Fish fry prep at Swissvale VFD and AOH Division #32

Fish fry prep at Swissvale VFD and AOH Division #32

mj slaby / the incline
MJ Slaby

People have feelings about fire halls and social clubs.

This much we’ve learned in the Ultimate Pittsburgh Fish Fry bracket, with the fire halls and social clubs quadrant getting the most votes in the first and second rounds of the contest.

As the bracket goes from eight to four contenders, other fish frys are vying for the titles of top eatery, top church of the west and top church of the east. But in this quadrant, it’s either the top fire hall or the top social club that advances.

Will it be Swissvale VFD or Ancient Order of Hibernians Division #32 in Carnegie?

Voting is open through 10 a.m. Monday, and to help you decide — or decide where to do your research — The Incline created this guide.

P.S. It is possible to try both in one day, just saying.

When and where

Swissvale and AOH
mj slaby / the incline

Ancient Order of Hibernians Division #32

Ukrainian American Citizens’ Club of Carnegie
302 Mansfield Blvd. (Carnegie)
4 to 7 p.m.

Swissvale VFD

7400 Irvine St. (Swissvale)
11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Famous for fish and haluski

Fish prep at AOH and haluski prep at Swissvale VFD

Fish prep at AOH and haluski prep at Swissvale VFD

mj slaby / the incline

Ancient Order of Hibernians Division #32

Fish: Choices include fried shrimp, hand-breaded fried haddock and baked fish with a New Orleans-inspired marinade.

Sides: Choices include Cole slaw, french fries, mac ‘n’ cheese and more, but it’s the homemade haluski that steals the show.

Can’t miss: The Ukrainian Club offers a full bar. There is also a bake sale with a variety of sweet options each week.

AOH fish fry menu

AOH fish fry menu

mj slaby / the incline

Swissvale VFD

Fish: Choices include beer-battered cod or baked cod loin sandwiches. Crab cakes and breaded fantail fried shrimp are also on the menu. Plus, there are chicken nuggets if you aren’t feeling seafood.

Sides: Mac ‘n’ cheese, cole slaw, hush puppies, pierogi and more are offered. But the most popular is the haluski with the firefighters’ secret recipe.

Can’t miss: In addition to the fish fry staples, Swissvale has a beer-battered grilled cheese sandwich, created by David Nickel, president of the volunteer fire department. Inspired by a sandwich at Jerome Bettis’ Grille 36, Nickel created the sandwich during a lull in customers six years ago. Now, there are roughly 40 orders for the sandwich each week.

How to place your order

Ancient Order of Hibernians Division #32

How: Orders are in-person only for both dine-in and carry out. Parking includes a lot on the side of the Ukrainian club, street parking and in lots nearby.

When: The rush tends to be about 4:45 p.m. or 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., so your best bet is to go early so they don’t run out of fish.

Swissvale VFD

How: Phone orders (412-271-8787) start at 10:30 a.m., or you can order via fax (412-271-8415). Walk-in to eat there or carry out. The fire department also does deliveries in Swissvale only. Parking includes a small lot at the station, on the street and in a lot across the street.

When: Phones start ringing at 10:30 a.m. and the rush tends to be 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4 to 7 p.m.. To skip the long lines, go between 2 and 4 p.m.

Dining experience

The Ukrainian Club's dining room (left) and the Swissvale VFD truck bay (right)

The Ukrainian Club's dining room (left) and the Swissvale VFD truck bay (right)

mj slaby / the incline

Ancient Order of Hibernians Division #32

Dine-in is a popular choice at the AOH fish fry. The Ukrainian American Citizens’ Club of Carnegie offers a full dining room and bar, as well walls decorated with paintings of people in traditional Ukrainian clothes. Plus, AOH members are the waiters.

Swissvale VFD

While most of the orders at Swissvale are for carry-out, there is an option to eat at the station — in the truck bay. Families sit together to eat, and kids love seeing the trucks up close, Fire Chief Clyde Wihelm said. The kids all get a plastic fireman’s hat. It’s a good opportunity to educate the public about what the fire department does, added Assistant Chief Kip Deleonibus.

Giving back

Ancient Order of Hibernians Division #32

Most of the money from the fish fry goes to various charities, mostly in western Pa. AOH donates to veterans organizations like the Pittsburgh Fisher House, which provides families a place to stay when a loved one is hospitalized at the VA, said Tim Reagan, the AOH division president. As an Irish-American fraternal organization, AOH Division #32 does several fundraisers throughout the year and also gives to organizations in Ireland.

Swissvale VFD

The fish fry is the department’s major fundraiser for the year for operating expenses and equipment.

 And for the fire staff, it’s an opportunity for team building, added Wilhelm. Swissvale is a combination station meaning there are full-time firefighters, as well as volunteers, but working in the kitchen together is a chance to be in a high stress situation together and problem solve, he said.

Want some more? Explore other Ultimate Fish Fry Bracket stories.