Chicago's best shrimp cocktail: From steakhouse traditional to Mexican coctel

Chicago's best shrimp cocktail: From steakhouse traditional to Mexican coctel

Chicago Tribune |
Nick Kindelsperger |
May 16, 2019
Original Article: "Chicago's best shrimp cocktail: From steakhouse traditional to Mexican coctel"

Faced with a shrimp cocktail, I am powerless. It doesn’t even have to be a good version. I’ll still drop whatever I’m doing and attack. This is even though sometimes my brain questions the whole concept (do I really want a ketchup-based sauce with some terribly expensive seafood?). But any hesitation is but a split second pause before I have a shrimp in hand ready to dunk.

Shrimp cocktail is, to my mind at least, the quintessential appetizer — not the best or most creative — but the one that pops to mind first whenever appetizers are mentioned. This is probably because the shrimp cocktail can be found all over the place, from seafood shacks to fancy steakhouses. It’s so common that when I decided to research the dish, I knew I’d end up in neighborhoods all over Chicago.

That said, when most of us think about shrimp cocktail, the version you get at steakhouses comes to mind first. Honestly, it feels like you could almost revoke a steakhouse’s license if it doesn’t have a shrimp cocktail on the menu. You’ll find the dish at Gibson’s (1028 N. Rush St.), Chicago Chop House (60 W. Ontario St.), Maple & Ash (8 W. Maple St.) and Gene & Georgetti’s (500 N. Franklin St.), and you’ll pay mightily for each order ($22.50, $23, $25 and $22, respectively).

Seafood restaurants

While steakhouse shrimp cocktails are all about making an impression (bigger is always better there), high-end seafood restaurants offer a far more measured approach. They are also, in my research, better. (These places have mostly dispensed with the traditional presentation, favoring laying the shrimp on a bed of crushed ice, with the cocktail sauce in a small saucer.)

When I asked Bill Nevruz, executive partner at Shaw’s Crab House (21 E. Hubbard St.) why the shrimp cocktail served at the Oyster Bar was so good ($5.25 per piece), he said that the success of the dish is 90 percent about the quality of the shrimp.

“We source Mexican brown shrimp from the Pacific side of the Mexican coast,” says Nevruz. “A whole bunch of shrimp can be used for shrimp cocktail, but we think these are the absolute best.”

Nevruz notes that most shrimp are chemically treated, but that Shaw’s gets it shrimp from a co-op called Pacific Shrimp, which refuses to use any chemicals. He believes this results in plumper, more delicious shrimp. If I had to pick the best traditional version of the shrimp cocktail right now in Chicago, it’d be here.

But a number of seafood restaurants are starting to push at the edges of the dish. At Giuseppe Tentori’s GT Fish & Oyster (531 N. Wells St.) in River North, the absurdly juicy shrimp ($8 each) arrive lightly tossed with herbs, which I realize doesn’t sound like a huge deal, except that no other place downtown tosses their shrimp with anything. Portsmith (660 N. State St.) takes it a step further with its version ($16), charring the shrimp slightly before chilling it, which gives each bite an intoxicating smoky aroma.

Media Contact

Emily Clark pr@leye.com 773-878-7340

You May Also Like...

In The Restaurants
Father’s Day 2019: Chicago
Jun 14, 2019

Though they deserve more than just one day to be celebrated, Father's Day is a time to make Dad feel…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Here’s Where to Happy Hour in Chicago
Jun 12, 2019

TGI- (insert day of the week here)! Here are all the happy hour deals available at Lettuce Entertain…

read more >
Openings
Crab Cellar Serves Unlimited Crab & Burgers 5 Nights a Week
Jun 1, 2019

Crab and burgers are just a few of our favorite things so why not open an entire restaurant…

read more >
In The Restaurants
21 Gluten-Free Friendly Dishes
May 30, 2019

We've rounded up our favorite gluten-free dishes from some of our restaurants' dedicated menus!…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Gluten-Free Friendly Restaurants in Chicago
May 7, 2019

At Lettuce Entertain You, we aim to make finding gluten-free friendly restaurants a lot easier. Many…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Where to Eat Lunch – Chicagoland
Apr 15, 2019

For that one hour escape from your office, you want to make sure to make most of your lunch hour.…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Get a Slice of Our Favorite Pies!
Mar 24, 2019

We love sweet and savory pies of all kinds, so open up your pie hole and explore all of the slices…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Kid-Friendly Dining Options and Activities
Feb 10, 2019

You've been to the zoo, the beach, the pool... the kids are starting to get stir crazy. We've got…

read more >
How To
Recipe: Oyster Bah’s Shellfish Linguine
Jan 24, 2019

When making pasta at home, it doesn't always have to be heavy and saucy! Oyster Bah's Shellfish…

read more >
How To
Already Fell Off the Healthy New Year’s Resolution Wagon? Let’s Eat.
Jan 13, 2019

"New Year, Same Me" more your speed? Well, we're right there with you. Celebrate one of our favorite…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Cheers for Mocktails
Jan 8, 2019

If you're doing Dry January, mocktails are the perfect way to enjoy Happy Hour without the alcohol.…

read more >
In The Restaurants
#LettuceLookBack: 18 of our Favorite Moments of 2018
Dec 31, 2018

It’s been 47 years since we opened the doors of our first restaurant, but 2018 was a year of…

read more >
How To
A Few Of Our Favorite Game Day Recipes
Dec 31, 2018

When you are in the mood to get your hands dirty in the kitchen for hosting your crew or solo…

read more >
In The Restaurants
A Gift Guide for the Food Lover in Your Life
Dec 5, 2018

Whether a birthday, graduation or any other of the countless holidays, we're here to make selecting…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Fall Harvest’s Best Dishes
Nov 1, 2018

The bounty of fall harvest comes at a time in the year when we are craving the comfort of cool…

read more >
How To
Spicy Grilled Street Corn from Oyster Bah
Sep 11, 2018

This Spicy Grilled Street Corn is the perfect side or a meal on it's own. Chef Donny Farrell of…

read more >
How To
This Summer, Grill Like A Chef. Here’s How
Jul 19, 2018

Executive Chef Justin Diglia of Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab in Chicago and his…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Your Summer Ice Cream Checklist
Jul 19, 2018

I SCREAM, YOU SCREAM...we all know the drill so let's get to the good stuff. July is National Ice…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Here’s Where to Eat the Best Mac and Cheese
Jul 14, 2018

In celebration of everyone's favorite cheesy dish we’ve rounded up some of our favorite…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Your Perfect Fried Chicken Sandwich is Served
Jul 2, 2018

You can roast ‘em, you can bake ‘em, and you can grill ‘em, but nothing tantalizes the taste…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Taking You From Ocean to Table: What’s New at Oyster Bah
Apr 1, 2018

Did you know that your favorite neighborhood seafood joint gets its seafood delivered daily from…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Rich Says You’ve Gotta Try: Oyster Bah
Mar 9, 2018

Welcome back to “You’ve Gotta Try,” a series that chronicles some of our favorite eats around…

read more >
In The Restaurants
This One’s For Our Indecisive Diners
Feb 26, 2018

For all of you indecisive order-ers out there - the "I want to order one of everything on the menu"…

read more >
How To
How To: Win a Valentine’s Day Staycation in Chicago
Jan 28, 2018

Procrastinating on making your Valentine's Day plans? Well, here's an idea, Chicago: A staycation…

read more >
How To
Not Your Average Party Ideas
Dec 18, 2017

The Lettuce Parties team knows the ins-and-outs of all of our restaurants and they've let us in…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Cozy Sips to Kick the Chilly Days
Dec 15, 2017

Braving the winter just got a little bit easier this year with an array of hot cocktails and…

read more >
In The Restaurants
What’s Hot in Hot Sauce
Nov 1, 2017

Welcome to Oyster Bah, our East Coast oyster Mecca dedicated to serving up the freshest seafood and…

read more >
How To
Recipe: Oyster Bah’s Loddy Toddy Cocktail
Nov 7, 2016

The weather has officially turned, and it's time to cozy up to the fireplace with a good book and…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Lettuce Date Night
Aug 15, 2016

 

read more >
How To
Summer Sips: Smash Cocktails
Jun 16, 2016

Say hello to the season of patio drinkin' and cocktail shakin' - summer is officially here. To…

read more >
In The Restaurants
A Few of Our Favorite Brunch Dishes
May 15, 2016

Brunch: An epic weekend meal situated between breakfast and lunch at which it is totally acceptable…

read more >
Openings
Coming Soon: Oyster Bah
Dec 16, 2015

It’s always exciting to introduce a new member of our ever-growing Lettuce Entertain You family…

read more >
In The Restaurants
5 Ways to Play Summer Scratch Off
Sep 13, 2010

Summer is coming to an end, but that doesn’t mean the fun has to stop. Lucky for you, you can play…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Where to Brunch this Weekend: Chicago
May 15, 2010

If you're anything like us, you plan your weekend around brunch. Here is your guide to all of our…

read more >

Recent Posts

How To
How To: Make RPM Italian’s Maine Lobster Ravioli with Spinach Pasta
Jun 15, 2019

RPM Italian's signature Maine Lobster Ravioli with spinach pasta is one of the restaurant's best…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Happy Hour Gets an Upgrade: Check out Hub 51’s All-New “The Happiest Hour”
Jun 14, 2019

Hub 51 launched a brand new happy hour where guests buy the drinks and the restaurant supplies the…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Make it a Boozy Brunch with Bottomless Mimosas and Bellinis at Hub 51
Jun 14, 2019

Call your friends, call your family -- this is BIG. Your new favorite boozy brunch is at Hub 51…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Father’s Day 2019: Chicago
Jun 14, 2019

Though they deserve more than just one day to be celebrated, Father's Day is a time to make Dad feel…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Father’s Day 2019: Metro D.C. Area
Jun 14, 2019

Father's Day is Sunday, June 16, so treat Dad to a fantastic meal at one of our Metro D.C. area…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Father’s Day 2019: Las Vegas
Jun 14, 2019

Father's Day is Sunday, June 16, so treat Dad to a special meal on the Las Vegas Strip. Here's a…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Las Vegas Restaurant Week 2019
Jun 14, 2019

Dine out for a good cause during Las Vegas Restaurant Week from Monday, June 17 - Friday, June 28!…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Father’s Day 2019: Twin Cities
Jun 14, 2019

Father's Day is Sunday, June 16 so give Dad the gift of a great meal. Here are all of our…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Father’s Day 2019: Los Angeles
Jun 14, 2019

This Father's Day, treat Dad to a great meal. Dine with us at Stella Barra Pizzeria in Hollywood or…

read more >
In The Restaurants
Here’s Why You Should Happy Hour at Ramen-San Fulton Market
Jun 13, 2019

Ramen-San Fulton Market is now offering one of the best happy hour deals in town with both drink…

read more >
In The Restaurants
VIDEO: Happy 20th Anniversary to this True Neighborhood Gem: Wildfire Lincolnshire
Jun 13, 2019

If you grew up on the North Shore of Chicago, chances are, you’ve eaten at Wildfire…

read more >
How To
How to Build a Charcuterie Board with Mon Ami Gabi
Jun 13, 2019

It may sound fancy but Charcuterie is quite literally the French word for preparing and assembling…

read more >
Lettuce Consulting Group

Grow Your Business

Learn More
Career Opportunities

Join Our Team

Search Jobs
Latest Articles

Sign Up For Our Newsletter

Sign Up Now