South Shields, UK: A battered and fried seaside institution
It's not news that the English take their fish and chips—a culinary institution that turns 150 years old this year—rather seriously. It's the stuff of academic inquiry (according to a recent Aston University study, chips make people "13% more cheerful"). But almost nowhere do they take it more seriously than at Colman's in South Shields, an institution in its own right.
It's the chippy's chippy, a family-run, third-generation seaside mess hall from 1926 that's gone thoroughly modern in the kitchen (oil recycled into biofuel, sustainably-fished product) but has barely changed on the plate: Fans say Colman's a portion of crispy-battered haddock, chubby golden chips and mushy peas has never wavered in quality.
And they've got a bucketload of awards to back up the claims, including England's coveted Fish and Chip Shop of the Year accolade—no small feat in a nation that has some 10,500 of them, serving up 275+ million portions of the stuff a year (preferably with malt vinegar).
Whether the mushy peas served with Colman's F&C deserves study is up for debate, but according to the BBC, Michael Jackson was a fan.