Food & Drink

The 11 Best Local Spots for Fried Fish in Chicago

Published On 04/13/2015 Published On 04/13/2015

Just because Lent is over doesn't mean it's time to stop eating fish. In fact, you’ll probably want to ramp up your intake, or at least you will after reading this list of the 11 best places for fried fish in Chicago. They don’t call ‘em the Great Lakes for nothing.
 

BIG & little's

River North/Lakeview
What you're getting: Fish & chips
Known for enormous portions, the fish & chips entrée at BIG & little’s keeps it simple with everything you need from a local fried fish outing, including heaping servings of beer-battered fried cod, fries, lemons, and tartar sauce. The expert move here, though, is to bring someone with you and go splitsies on the fish & chips AND the equally massive soft shell crab po’ boy.

titus ruscitti/thrillist

Velvet Taco

Gold Coast
What you're getting: Fish n' Chips Taco
This modern taco shop, by way of Dallas, specializes in taking the classic tastes of popular non-Mexican eats and putting those flavors into house-made tortillas. One of the best representations on the menu is the Fish n' Chips Taco, where a perfectly fried piece of beer-battered cod gets topped with a well-paired curry mayo and some malted fries hidden inside.
 

McGill's Bar & Grill

Albany Park
What you're getting: Fish & chips (served Fridays)
This neighborhood favorite on Pulaski plays host to a cult following on Fridays, largely because that's when it serves one of the city's best-bang-for-your-buck bar meals: an all-you-can-eat fish and chips plate. Beer-battered cod is fried throughout the evening as regulars put down plateful after plateful. For best results, enjoy yours with an always accurately poured Guinness.

titus ruscitti/thrillist

Ba Le

Uptown
What you're getting: Cod banh mi
For all those times you're jonesing for a fish sandwich with a slightly more Vietnamese-y flavor profile, head over to Argyle St and the famous Ba Le. The Cod banh mi features Corona-battered and fried-to-order fish, and it’s served like all of the other classic banh mi. Crumbly bread with crunchy jalapeños and crispy fish in between? Um, yes please.
 

Feed

Humboldt Park
What you're getting: Catfish sandwich
The catfish sandwich from this Southern-fried chicken spot is a sleeper hit. With a large filet lightly dusted in cornmeal and fried ‘til both juicy and flaky on the inside, what's supposed to be a sandwich can easily be eaten as a dinner. You're supplied with a bun and all the necessary toppings on the side and then you can decide how you want to tackle it, plus the whole thing is paired with some excellent, fresh-cut fries.

Titus Ruscitti/Thrillist

Monkey's Paw

Lincoln Park
What you're getting: Fish & chips
This neighborhood gastropub had an under-the-radar opening, but has gained a loyal set of regulars since, with a cozy rustic setting matched by a fantastic beer list, plus cocktails for those who prefer the hard stuff (hi). The food menu features seasonal farm-to-table fare with a standout fish & chips option -- ale-battered Atlantic cod is served with fresh-cut fries and house-made jalapeño tartar sauce and malt vinegar. Don't mind if we do.
 

Troha's Chicken and Shrimp

Little Village
What you're getting: Fried smelts
Spring means smelt season in the Great Lakes region and Troha's typically has them on its menu. It's been like that since day one (which was in 1917!). Don't let the name of these little fishies fool you: they take on a mild fish flavor and can be popped like French fries. Guaranteed you can't eat just one... plate.

titus ruscitti/thrillist

Steve's Lounge

Hegewisch
What you're getting: Friday Fish Fry (on Fridays)
To experience a true Midwest-style Friday Fish Fry, you need to head out to the far corners of the city. Located near the Indiana border in a residential neighborhood, Steve’s serves a classic fish fry each Friday, attracting locals who've been coming forever. The option of fish native to the Great Lakes makes it an even more authentic experience. The cheap beers and colorful corner tavern characters don't hurt either.
 

Red Lion Pub

Lincoln Park
What you're getting: Fish & chips
This longtime Lincoln Ave favorite made its triumphant return after a long remodeling and the food is as good as ever. Try the English-style fish & chips, which features three nicely fried filets of ale-battered cod sitting atop a beautiful pile of fresh-cut fries. Pro tip: have them the proper English way with curry powder dusted on top.

the gage

The Gage

Loop
What you're getting: Fish & chips
After a long day dodging flashing bulbs amidst the tourist hordes at Millennium Park, some quality upscale pub food is just what the doctor ordered (if the doctor likes to get boozy). This popular gastropub does a terrific fish & chips option using a combo beer batter of Guinness and pilsner, which results in an extra crunchy outside. Enjoy them while overlooking the park.
 

Frite Street

Avondale
What you're getting: Fish & frites (served Fridays)
Each Friday you can try the fish fry box, which comes with catfish nuggets sitting atop the signature frites (which are topped with all kinds of craziness every other day of the week). The whole thing gets stepped up a notch with homemade tartar sauce and killer house pickles. It may not be as crazy as some of the other options, but it's still crazy good.

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Titus Ruscitti is a contributing writer for Thrillist. You can join him on his food travels throughout the cityscape and wherever else life takes him on his blog, where he's single-handedly tackled close to 1,000 food stops. Follow him @chibbqking.

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1. BIG & little's 860 N Orleans St, Chicago, IL 60610 (Near North Side)

BIG & little's is Chicago's one-stop wonder for fish 'n chips. There are also po'boys, truffle fries, burgers, and.... need we keep going? Just get there.

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2. Velvet Taco 1110 N State St, Chicago, IL 60610 (Gold Coast)

Slinging more than a dozen modern and traditional varieties, this Texas-based taco shop planted its first non-Texas outpost right in the Viagra Triangle. Try the Indian-inspired crisp tikka chicken (spicy pepper sauce, buttered cilantro basmati rice, raita crema, and Thai basil), the American-inspired bacon burger (served on a flour tortilla, of course), and a side of elote-style rotisserie corn with the famous red-velvet cake for dessert.

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3. McGill's Bar & Grill 4553 N Pulaski Rd, Chicago, IL 60630 (Albany Park)

This neighborhood favorite on Pulaski plays host to a cult following on Fridays, largely because that's when it serves one of the city's best-bang-for-your-buck bar meals: an all-you-can-eat fish and chips plate. Beer-battered cod is fried throughout the evening as regulars put down plateful after plateful. For best results, enjoy yours with an always accurately poured Guinness.

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4. Ba Le Bakery 5016 N Broadway St, Chicago, IL 60640 (Uptown)

Family-owned and serving up traditional preparations of classic Vietnamese eats, Ba Le is your go-to for noodle salads, banh mi, and more.

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5. Feed 2803 W Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL 60622 (Humboldt Park)

It feels like a roadhouse in the middle of nowhere even though it's in the middle of Humboldt Park. Try the roast chicken, fried chicken, and the fried catfish sandwich.

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6. The Monkey's Paw 2524 N Southport, Chicago, IL 60614 (Lincoln Park)

It's been said that a monkey's paw has the power to grant wishes, which probably would have resulted in fewer pawless monkeys, if only they understood the concept of "wishing". Thankfully, your wish for an entire wall of whiskey has been brought true by the team at The Monkey's Paw, a new grub-pub handsomely stocking nearly 50 single malts and other fine browns behind a meandering cork bar that's flanked by a dusty-booked library, which operates on the Dewar's Decimal System.

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7. Troha's Chicken & Shrimp 4151 W 26th St, Chicago, IL 60623

First opened in 1917 (!), this is one of the best shrimp spots in the city as far as both atmosphere and quality goes. Try their medium breaded shrimp that's fried to a golden perfection every time for a more than reasonable price.

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8. Steve's Lounge 13200 S Baltimore Ave, Chicago, IL 60633

To experience a true Midwest-style Friday Fish Fry, you need to head out to the far corners of the city. Located near the Indiana border in a residential neighborhood, Steve’s serves a classic fish fry each Friday, attracting locals who've been coming forever. The option of fish native to the Great Lakes makes it an even more authentic experience. The cheap beers and colorful corner tavern characters don't hurt either.

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9. Red Lion Pub 2446 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL 60614 (Lincoln Park)

This longtime Lincoln Ave favorite made its triumphant return after a long remodeling and the food is as good as ever. Try the English-style fish & chips, which features three nicely fried filets of ale-battered cod sitting atop a beautiful pile of fresh-cut fries. Pro tip: have them the proper English way with curry powder dusted on top.

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10. The Gage 24 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60603 (Loop)

The Loop might not be the first neighborhood that comes to mind when considering weekend brunch options, but brunch at the Gage will have you rethinking your stance. The bustling restaurant pours a potent Bloody infused with CH Peppercorn Vodka and finished with pickled peppadew, Irish cheddar, and house corned beef; menu highlights include chilaquiles, a caramel sticky bun, and the popular venison burger. If the weather is nice, enjoy your delicious meal outside overlooking the park.

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11. Frite Street 3006 N Elston Ave, Chicago, IL 60618 (Avondale)

A food truck-turned-restaurant, Frite Street is a fry-centric offshoot of the slider slingin’ Slide Ride. The brick-and-mortar space is simple -- even a bit divey -- with red walls, minimal seating, and not a whole lot else. Score a few of the truck’s most popular sliders, along with 11 different French fry renditions, like poutine smothered in Guinness gravy; Korean frites with crispy pork belly, house kimchi, and garlic aioli; or the Mac Daddy number with pulled pork, mac & cheese, and a house pickle.

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