Fin-atics get their fix at Chicago's best seafood restaurants
Seafood is hard to do well at home and it’s best to buy fish fresh and prepare it that night, neither undercooking nor turning it into a Dr. Scholl’s shoe insert. Good luck with that after a long day at work – or just rely on any of these sea faring eateries.
What’s your go-to? Oysters, the bracing bivalves that Casanova called “a spur to the spirit and to love“ or a comforting platter of fried perch sided with potato pancakes and cold one?
Chicago claims a bevy of strictly seafood eateries that range from the messy (Lowcountry) to the posh (Truluck’s). For large portions and BYOB, get to Boston Fish Market and oyster and crab lovers land trophy sized love at Shaw’s Crab House Chicago. We love our Lake Michigan but you can get shellfish plucked from the ocean less than a day ago at places like Hugo’s Frog Bar and Fish House and Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab. Since Chicagoans don’t have an accent at all, we like to rib or northeastern pals by asking them to “pahk the cah” so we can hit up Oyster Bah in Lincoln Park.
Let’s drop our lines and see what we catch!
JOE’S SEAFOOD, PRIME STEAK & STONE CRAB
This classic dinner club style restaurant with a vaulted ceiling, crisply pressed tablecloths and dark wooden furniture is appropriate for a biz lunch, a refuel after shopping or even a special occasion. Partner of the famous Joe’s Stone Crab in Miami, the River North venue features a selection of fresh seafood, wet and dry aged USDA Prime steaks and its piece de resistance – Florida Stone Crab Claws – flown in from Joe’s own fisheries and served with mustard sauce. Seasonal specialties include bone-in halibut and Nantucket Cape scallops and you can get even more of a whiff of Miami Beach with items from the original Joe’s Stone Crab such as grilled tomatoes and fried chicken. Pair it all with a glass or bottle from a wine roster of more than 450 varietals.
There are only a couple ways around cooking are own fish issues: move to a picturesque fishing village on the Mediterranean or head to Oyster Bah where you can get classic seafood dishes and fish from around the planet presented to you. The Original Seafood Roll does a New England lobster roll one better with Maine lobster, King crab, shrimp, celery and mayo tucked into a buttery bun. There’s fish ‘n’ chips, Seattle style barbecue salmon, “wicked fresh” calamari and lots of modern seafood items such as poke and sesame tuna tacos. You’ll find lots of bright, seafood-friendly wines by the glass plus handcrafted cocktails like a Boardwalk Punch or a Cape Cod with housemade cranberry juice. Indulge at brunch or lunch from 11am-2pm on Fridays and 10:30am-2pm on Saturday and Sunday. Fried oyster Benedict or smoked trout frittata anyone?
SHAW’S CRAB HOUSE CHICAGO
Supposedly, legendary lover Casanova ate 50 raw oysters every morning as an aphrodisiac. Shaw’s Crab House has been the authority on the briny bivalves with the sexy rep for years with its annual Oyster Festival. Not your thing? Shaw’s offers plenty of other choices you’ll be crushing on when you open the menu: lobster, sushi, King crab, and a boatload of seasonal swimmers from Atlantic Yellowfin tuna to Ecuadorian Mahi Mahi. Enjoy bubbles by the glass, a sturdy Manhattan and desserts big enough to share. Shaw’s famous red raspberry pie with its pure, intense flavor should fuel some fervor even if you don’t slurp oysters. Live music, mostly blues, entertains in the oyster bar every Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday night and weekend brunch is the bomb for seafood fans.