SOBIESKI, Minn. (WCCO) — During Lent in Minnesota, you can’t throw a rock without hitting a sign for a fish fry.

Bars, restaurants, VFWs, and churches all host them.

But who has the best?

I asked, and your votes sent me to Herbies Bar in Sobieski, Minn. And to call a Friday night there controlled chaos is probably a bit generous.

On any given fish fry night, the bar’s tiny kitchen will serve up 388 dinners — enough for every person in Sobieski to eat twice.

“It’s all great,” one customer said. “The fish is great, the haluski is…I’ve never had it before, but it’s wonderful.”

What’s haluski?

“It’s a dumpling with cabbage and butter,” said Diane, another customer.

Call it Polish soul food. And in this small Polish town, they line up for it.

“Everybody serves fish. A lot of places do shrimp,” said Mary Gorka, the daughter-in-law of the bar’s owner. “Only Herbie’s Bar does haluskis.”

And only Herbies Bar has John Gorka.

John has owned Herbies Bar for 26 years, and he’s been running the fish fry just as long.

After watching him for five minutes, you know why people come back week after week. His personality makes costumers feel right at home.

But John has had a tough time this last year, following the passing of his wife, Joyce.

“Johnny is such a wonderful person, he is just awesome,” Diane said. “And losing his wife, that set him back, but he’s still going good.”

For years, Joyce did all the cooking. This year, though, it’s John and Joyce’s sons back in the kitchen, keeping their mom’s legacy alive.

“If [Joyce] was here, and she’s not, but um…she’d be pretty proud of what’s going on today,” his daughter-in-law said.

The fish fry at Herbies Bar is all you can eat and costs just $9.50. If you want to check it out Friday night, it runs from 4:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.

You’ll want to get there early. The parking lot fills up by 4 p.m.

Next week, I’m looking for the best cheesecake in Minnesota.

Send me your picks on Twitter at @Matt_Brickman. Or email them to


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