This Charming Seaside Town Has The Best Fish And Chips In The UK With An Award To Prove It

British cuisine gets a lot of flak for being stodgy and bland, a reputation that is at least partly deserved. When the classic dishes are done right, however, they can be a thing of beauty; take fish and chips, the one combo that probably springs to mind when people worldwide think of traditional British food. More recently, the dish has faced stiff competition from Chicken Tikka Masala as the U.K.'s national dish, but a visit to the chip shop still warms the hearts and fills the bellies of millions of Brits each year. Affectionately known as "chippies," there are over 10,000 chip shops across the country, and one holds the crown for the best takeaway fish and chips in the land: Whiteheads in Hornsea, East Yorkshire.

To avoid confusion, British chips are chunky french fries rather than potato chips, and their pairing with deep-fried battered fish dates back to the mid-19th century when the first chip shops opened. Its popularity boomed during the Industrial Revolution when steam-powered trawlers brought in an abundance of cheap fish to feed the hard-working masses. The dish was considered so important to morale that it avoided rationing during the two World Wars, and in the modern day Brits eat around 382 million meals from chippies each year. Far more ubiquitous than McDonald's (which has only 1,200 restaurants in the U.K.), you can eat fish and chips just about anywhere — even some of London's prettiest restaurants serve the comfort food. But for the full experience, it works best on a trip to the U.K.'s coast.

Where to find the UK's best takeaway fish and chips

Hornsea is a seaside town in the East Riding of Yorkshire, a region on the east coast of England around a four-hour drive from London. It has a classic promenade running along the seashore overlooking a sandy beach divided by wooden groynes, a familiar sight around the U.K. A walk along the front looks much the same as dozens of other modest English resorts, with a row of slightly faded guest houses, cafes, gift shops, and, of course, places to get fish and chips. There is J.B's Traditional Fish & Chips, which has very mixed reviews; Sullivans, a traditional chip shop that has been serving since 1980; the Seafront Chippy, which caters to more Northern tastes with haddock, haggis, and black pudding.

For the pick of the bunch, you need to leave the sea views behind and head to a more unlikely setting for your fish supper: The Greenway, a typical English council estate of mid-20th century red brick houses. There you will find Whiteheads Fish & Chips, nestled inconspicuously in a row of flat-roofed shops. It's a proper family-run chippy that takes pride in its place in the community, sponsoring local sports clubs and the Hornsea Inshore Rescue service. In 2023, it won takeaway of the year at the National Fish & Chip Awards, an event run by the National Federation of Fish Friers (NFFF) and it is rated 4.5 by visitors on Tripadvisor.

How to eat takeaway fish and chips at the seaside

Whiteheads opened in 1997 with the lofty goal of serving the best fish and chips in Britain. Over the years, it has won many awards to prove that it is achieving its aim, and the owners are committed to the quality of food. Chips are made from locally sourced potatoes and the fish comes directly from trawlers in the North Atlantic, including MSC-certified Icelandic cod and haddock. They cook fresh daily for the crispiest batter and chips are cooked separately to cater to gluten-free customers. The menu includes all the usual chippy favorites including side orders like mushy peas, curry sauce, gravy, and pickled onions.

Whiteheads is an efficiently run chippy that is regularly praised for its friendly service, and there is the option of eating in its clean and modern restaurant. But where is the fun in that? There is nothing more British than loading up your fish and chips with salt and malt vinegar and finding somewhere to sit looking out to sea, fending off hungry seagulls as you attempt to feed yourself with a small wooden fork that, more often than not, just mashes the lovely white chunks of fish into tiny pieces. Luckily, takeaway food from Whiteheads is served in boxes rather than the traditional paper wrapping, which at least helps keep all the grub enclosed and not falling in your lap — very convenient for dining outdoors!