We Tried Popeyes' New Fish Sandwich to See if It's Any Good

Popeyes set a high bar for all its future sandwiches with its famous chicken sandwich.

Courtesy of Popeyes
Courtesy of Popeyes

The Popeyes Chicken Sandwich set a high bar. Whether the Louisiana-style chain likes it or not, all of its new and future sandwiches will be measured against the golden-brown standard set by the original. So, when Popeyes' first fish sandwich—the Cajun Flounder Sandwicharrived on the menu last week, it was greeted with sky-high expectations. Did the company achieve the same fast food alchemy that it did with its smash-hit poultry offering?

We found out.

The Bun

Nothing new to report here. Popeyes makes this sandwich with the same toasted brioche bun it uses for its chicken sandwich. It’s got that buttery shine on the outside and a touch of toasted brown on the inside. The bun is meant to add a richness to the sandwich in addition to serving as a vehicle for the fish and toppings. It does a good job.

The Sauce & Pickles

Most fish sandwiches come with a smear of tartar sauce, and Popeyes' is no exception. It's basically required. However, unlike most fish sandwiches we've seen, this one also comes with pickles—the same thick-sliced, barrel-aged pickles that make the chain's chicken sandwiches so good. Our guess is that they're here for additional balance. The sharp tanginess of both the tartar sauce and the pickles combine in most bites to act as a good counter to the fish's fatty flavor and the fried breading's greasiness. The fact that they're just generally great pickles is also a big plus.

Tony Merevick/Thrillist

The Fish

Popeyes could have just named this thing the Popeyes Fish Sandwich, but it chose to put the type of fish it uses in the sandwich right in the name—front and center. We can see why. Flounder is a mild, crowd-pleasing fish that’s not too moist or oily. It’s delicate and flakes nicely, which is conducive to a pleasant sandwich-eating experience. It also takes on other flavorings well, which is where this sandwich truly shines.

Instead of adding a spicy sauce to the outside of the piece of fried flounder, Popeyes put a bunch spicy Cajun seasoning into the breading. And while you can’t go wrong with a good spicy sauce, Popeyes’ approach here may be even better. Because the breading is so well seasoned, you end up getting a consistent level of spice and flavor in every bite rather than, say, a little here or a lot there based on how the sauce is distributed across the sandwich. The result is a fish sandwich that’s just as spicy—if not a tad spicier—than the spicy version of the chicken sandwich. We’re all for it.

The Verdict

With the limited-time launch of the Cajun Flounder Sandwich, Popeyes is now among the many fast food chains trying to capitalize on the increased demand for seafood during Lent, when Catholics abstain from eating meat. If you can’t eat a fried chicken sandwich, a fried fish sandwich is the logical next-best thing. But Popeyes’ fish sandwich is tasty enough to be a first choice—much more than the temporary ‘Plan B’ it’s seemingly designed to be for all the Catholic folks out there. In other words, it's good enough to be on the menu all year. 

But going back to our original question, is it as good as Popeyes' chicken sandwich? Nope. Nothing is.

Sign up here for our daily Thrillist email and subscribe here for our YouTube channel to get your fix of the best in food/drink/fun.

Tony Merevick is the Managing Editor at Thrillist. Follow him on Twitter @tonymerevick and Instagram @tonymerevick.