The smell of fresh food from the ocean holds a special place in the hearts of seafood lovers. It’s probably because of the wide variety of seafood delicacies in every cuisine, or simply for the love of brininess in seafood items evoking a feeling of being near the salty waters, under the blue skies. You can learn about the benefits of taking seafood, on this website: http://www.entre-chefs.com
Restaurants owners in Chicago have picked up on the wave of opportunities and embarked upon bringing in chefs from all over the world to serve some of the best seafood dishes. Although Chicago is a not coastal city, it still has become home to some of the best seafood restaurants.
1. The Fish Keg
A seafood heaven, located on the border of Chicago and Evanston is an epic find for fish and chips lovers. There are traditional and fusion delicacies made with oysters, clams, shrimp, lobsters, cod, perch, and everything other fish available in the market. The fish keg is the perfect place to share a meal with friends and family, as they serve to share platters too. The neon sign on it has also become a landmark for locals.
2. Bar Mar
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Everything about it is magical. It’s like the universe conspired for them to be together and give birth to the perfect child – Bar Mar. Their Spanish seafood-centric menu is a dream for food connoisseurs. Their creation of fish-shaped bagels filled with Espuma cream cheese and smoked salmon has made headlines in the food industry. Need we say more about its specialties? It’s definitely one of the must-try seafood places in all of America.
3. Calumet Fisheries
According to the expert foodies at Speaking of Seafood, freshwater fish such as salmon, trout, and perch taste better than seawater fish, because the flavors in the fish are more than that of seawater. This is probably why Calumet Fisheries have become a big hit among traditional Chicago diners.
An old-school menu at Calumet Fisheries is still very popular, serving the fresh catch of the day from the banks of the Calumet River for decades. The ambiance is also very warm and well-maintained. It’s a perfect family-like restaurant with kids’ specials as well. When we say traditional, we mean good old traditional, as they are not open to reservations, even on the busiest days. They prefer walk-in customers who are happy to eat their meals in their car or just outside the restaurant. Oh, plus, they accept cash only!
4. The Angry Crab
This Asian-influenced seafood restaurant is all set to win the hearts of every seafood-loving Chicagoan. Their genius seafood boil made in Cajon sauce is the most popular dish on the menu, and many restaurants in other cities have tried to replicate it and failed. The angry crab impresses every time with their secret formula bagged with the right spice levels and seafood spread.
Named after the famous food author M.F.K. Fisher, MFK has taken off with flying colors. It’s a bar-like restaurant surrounded by gardens, offering a Spanish-influenced menu serving sharable seafood platters with mussels and shrimp. There are also tapas dishes that go really well with drinks for smaller bites. The squid ink tostadas served with Spanish tortillas is also a popular dish among locals visiting MFK with friends to end the week.
Tip: The place is always filled, especially on weekends, so book yourself a table before you visit.
6. Half Shell
A small bar-like restaurant with an authentic seafood carte. Although the place does not seem so inviting, the food surely makes up for it. The pricing is relatively cheaper compared to other seafood restaurants; that’s another reason why Half Shell is always crowded. Their king crab legs and soft shell crabs are to die for.
Tip: They only accept cash, so make sure you run to the ATM before you sit and cozy up.
7. Brown Bag Seafood Co.
An excellent choice for locals who love a healthy seafood menu. It’s very busy during office lunchtime, as Brown Bag Seafood is one of those rare seafood restaurants that have invested in catering to health-conscious customers. The bonus is that they let you choose the content of the plate with protein and side options. There are grilled, seared, and broiled fish options with sides like sandwiches, salads, tacos, etc., accommodating customers with food that can fit into their healthy lifestyle choices easily. They also have fried options, so if you’re feeling a bit naughty, feel free to indulge in the crunchiness.
8. Shaw’s Crab House
Does this place need an introduction? Well, for the sake of it, Shaw’s Crab House has been featured in many international food magazines for its seafood menu. They have also earned the title for being the “bastion” of seafood. Their price points are also quite relaxed, drawing customers from all over Chicago, and beyond. Their Alaskan King Crab served with creamed spinach, mashed potatoes, and Ceaser salad will keep you coming back for more. Oh, and did we say that the set menu finishes with a hearty layer of chocolate cake for dessert?
9. GT Fish & Oyster
A beautiful blend of modern and traditional meets here at GT Fish & Oyster. Their special sharing seafood tower platter has been reviewed by local food bloggers – all of them enjoyed the flavors thoroughly, and highly recommended it to big groups with bigger appetites. Their entrees menu with Manila clams and fish tacos also look quite promising. Now, that makes it a safe bet for everyone.
10. DMK Fish Bar
DMK Restaurant’s fish bar is definitely worth a try! Their menu is inspired by typical seaside stalls, with some very interesting seasonal additions such as a crisply blue crab cake sandwich. It has an outdoor seating arrangement on the patio, so if the weather wills, it’s nice to sit aside and enjoy their mouth-watering meals.
11. Hagen’s Fish Market
Hagen’s Fish market has been on the map since 1946, a very popular seafood place for residents of northwestern Chicago. This seafood place is probably the last hardwood smokehouse standing in all of Chicago. The menu comprises traditional shrimp, lobster, salmon, and trout dishes. They also offer smoking seafood options from the menu upon request.
12. RPM Seafood
RMP seafood is owned by famous celebrities Bill and Giuliana Rancic, and is located on the riverside. It has become a hotspot for locals. It’s definitely going to stretch your wallet to dine in here, but trust us, it’s totally worth it.
The quality of seafood served here is inimitable. Their plates are pieces of art that deserve a moment of appreciation. Oysters served in yuzu granita are the highlight of the menu for sure. If you have the budget, try out some of the wine bottles from the menu; they have been hand-picked by the owners themselves to help their guests wash down the food in glory.
The seafood-centered restaurant located in the lobby of the Emily Hotel is a burst of Mexican, Japanese and French flavors. Their specialties include scallop aguachile served with gooseberries, which is a beautiful fusion of techniques developed from different cuisines. The kanpachi with smoked beetroot is also a must-try dish.
They grow some of their ingredients on their rooftop, which they proudly highlight on the menu, attracting organic food lovers. The ambiance of the restaurant surrounding the fire pit is also worth a mention.
Chicago may be a midwestern city but it’s extremely close to the coast and has a rich history of fishing and seafood cuisines. From lobsters, clams, mussels, shrimps, oysters, salmon, and other white fish, just name it, it’s all available. And not only that, you can find seafood cooked in many ways and according to a variety of cuisines. You no longer have to please your hungry stomachs with traditional Surf-and-Turfs. You can start your Chicago food tour with some delicious and diverse seafood!