Courtesy of Brown Bag Seafood

10. Brown Bag Seafood Co.

The Loop
This Nantucket-esque seafood eatery's impressive roll comes with a bit of New Orleans flare tossed in with savory lobster. The big chunks of lobster with a hint of Cajun seasoning are balanced by the sweetness of a Hawaiian roll, and the whole thing is obviously best paired with crispy, truffle parmesan tater tots.

Courtesy of Lindsey Becker

9. Fish Bar

Lakeview, Navy Pier
DMK's neighborhood fish shack delivers a straightforward lobster roll with a distinctive twist: a healthy sprinkle of cayenne pepper for a kick and both freshly diced celery and celery salt. Spicy slaw along with salt and vinegar chips complete the meal, but don't worry, the juicy ocean catch is still the main attraction. As are sea sippers on Chicago's notorious pier this summer.

COURTESY OF HAPPY LOBSTER TRUCK/GEOFF STELLFOX
Nicole Bruce/Thrillist

7. The Fishguy Market/Wellfleet Occasional Restaurant


 

Albany Park
Within this small fish market is an even tinier eatery, Wellfleet, which a tasteful menu comprised of the shop's flawless seafood selections. The Cape Breton lobster roll -- the price of which hasn't gone up in the nearly 20 years the market has been open -- showcases a hearty portion of chilled Nova Scotian lobster offerings with just a hint of mayo to bind it all together. Add in some cucumber, celery sprigs, lemon peel, and other herbs and spices pocketed within a buttery bun that's been specially-prepared by a North Shore bakery, and you'll start seeing ocean waves along Elston Ave.

Courtesy of Luke's Lobster

6. Luke's Lobster

The Loop
This Maine-rooted seafood franchise serves up a solid roll for $16. Its lobster-packed handhelds aren't overdone like so many other lobster rolls in the city, the chilled meat is lightly coated with both butter and mayo then sprinkled with spices like thyme and celery salt before it's tucked into a delicious, well-buttered bun.

Flickr/Kurman Communications, Inc. Follow

5. Da Lobsta

River North and West Loop
You'll find some unusual lobster roll variations like the "Genghis Kahn" with soy mayo, Asian slaw, Szechuan sauce, and scallions at this all-things-lobster purveyor. But the traditional roll dressed in tarragon mayo and garlic butter is the classic riff that'll keep you coming back for more... plus the salty Cape Cod chips you can expect from a New England-style eatery, which give it the "authentic lobster shack in the Midwest" appeal.

COURTESY OF ERIC KLEINBERG

4. GT Fish & Oyster

River North
Chef Giuseppe Tentori's notable lobster roll has perfected the crucial meat-to-bun ratio. His version starts with a crispy, buttery house-made brioche dough roll, which is stuffed full of cool, meaty lobster chunks, coated ever-so-lightly in house-prepared mayo with a touch of Dijon mustard and ample dill, a spritz of lemon, and celery for crunch. Fried onion strings and seasonal pickled veggies round out the seafaring snack.

COURTESY OF ANJALI PINTO

3. Shaw's Crab House

River North; Schaumburg, IL
This sophisticated seafood eatery delivers a surprisingly unpretentious, generously loaded lobster roll. Hand-picked, whole lobsters are steamed for the lunch menu's second highest seller. Big, sweet bites of steamed lobster are lightly seasoned, chopped, and mixed with Hellman's mayo and diced celery before they're stuffed into a house-made brioche bun, basted with butter and grilled. Your lunch order in the main dining room (or anytime at the bar) will be accompanied by salty, hand-cut fries, coleslaw, and a pickle.

COURTESY OF NEW ENGLAND SEAFOOD COMPANY

2. New England Seafood Company & Fish Market

Lakeview
This neighborhood seafood market flies in lobster and buns from Boston on the daily to share the fresh wonders of the East Coast with us. The market's rendition is simple, which is a refreshingly beautiful thing. Lobster chunks coated in a light mayo and seasoning base are nestled between the toasted bun. It's accompanied by a side of warm drawn butter, fresh lemon wedges, and hand-cut potato chips, as it should.

Courtesy of Acadia

1. Acadia

South Loop
At his Michelin-starred restaurant, chef and owner Ryan McCaskey recreates the summers he spent in Maine through affordable, lobster-rich rolls for Chicagoans. The city's best (take your pick: Maine- or Connecticut-style) proves there's no need to revamp the time-honored roll. Its subtly sweet bread smuggled in from the East Coast is incredibly buttery and crispy on the outside while its steamy interior cradles the succulent fillings. Minimally dressed with house-made chive mayo, squeeze of lemon, warm butter, and a dash of smoky-sweet paprika blend for a mild kick, the heap of nearly a whole lobster is complemented by tangy house chips.

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1. Brown Bag Seafood Co. 340 E Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60601 (Loop)

This fast-casual seafood joint has a 3-step ordering process. First, you pick your protein, whose options range from the daily catch and crispy shrimp to grilled chicken and lobster specials. Then you choose from one of five formats: sandwich, salad, tacos, straight up, or the quinoa-loaded "Powerbox." Finally, add a side, which is usually from the tater tot or coleslaw camp. The place is minimalist and well-priced, and given its affinity for brown bags, perfect for a grab-and-go lunch.

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2. Fish Bar 2956 N Sheffield Ave, Chicago, IL 60657 (Lakeview)

DMK's seafood concept, with outposts in Lakeview and Navy Pier, reimagines the quintessential seafood shack by taking inspiration from both New Orleans and New England. Expect east and west coast oysters, lobster rolls, po' boys, and gumbo, plus s'mores and oyster shooters and cocktails. The Lakeview location has bar and booth seating, as well as a seasonal patio.

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3. The Fishguy Market 4423 N Elston Ave, Chicago, IL 60630 (Albany Park)

Fishmonger Bill Dugan is behind this fish market in Albany Park. The market has all the fresh fish you could expect from a seafood emporium, but it's most well known for its tiny restaurant, Wellfleet. The sit-down eatery has a small and tasteful menu made up of the market's seafood selections, and you can always expect to find crab cakes, a daily fish burger, and a Nova Scotian lobster roll made with just the right amount of mayo.

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4. Luke’s Lobster 134 N LaSalle St, Chicago, IL 60602 (Loop)

Based in New York, Luke's Lobster is a fast-casual seafood shack chain that pays homage to founder Luke Holden's home state speciality: Maine lobster rolls. Though the butter-and-mayo-coated lobster rolls are the house speciality, the menu also features crab and shrimp rolls plus extras like clam chowder and grilled cheese. Like the rest of Luke's outposts, the Loop location is counter-serve with a few tables and window seating.

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5. Da Lobsta 416 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60654 (River North)

This multi-location, fast-casual lobster roll eatery's BYOB space sports exposed bricks and light fixtures made of upcycled lobster traps, can comfortably seat about 20 people, and offers the chain’s full lineup of classic and traditional lobsta rolls, sandwiches, salads, and mac & cheese. Grab a seat on the small patio when the weather allows.

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6. GT Fish & Oyster 531 N Wells St, Chicago, IL 60654 (Near North Side)

Helmed by Michelin-starred chef Guiseppe Tentori, this fine dining restaurant in River North is the place to go for anything seafood-related. GT serves fish shack-style eats like lobster rolls, fish and chips, and oyster po' boys alongside way more luxurious items like caviar and seafood towers. The beautifully-designed space includes a date-worthy oyster bar and a private dining room with a whale mural. Though Friday and Saturday nights are GT's peak hours, the restaurant has stellar weekday lunch and weekend brunch service.

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7. Shaw’s Crab House 21 E Hubbard St, Chicago, IL 60611 (River North)

This upscale seafood restaurant with locations in River North and Schaumburg, IL is split between a sophisticated dining room and a more laid-back oyster bar. Shaw's overall speciality is American seafood, and it's got killer crab cakes, lobster rolls, and seasonal fish entrees, plus surf and turf dinners. It also serves sushi and sashimi. The oyster selection changes daily, but all the oyster-producing regions of the country are represented on the menu (Virginia, Washington, Massachusetts, etc). The interior is classic and old-school -- it's like a steakhouse but fishier.

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8. New England Seafood Company Fish Market 3341 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL 60657 (Lakeview)

Founded by two Massachusetts born-and-raised brothers, this Lakeview seafood joint is part fish market, part counter-serve restaurant. The menu features the greatest hits of New England seafood, all of which is flown in from Boston daily. The lobster rolls are a must-try, as are the fish tacos (made with cod, shrimp, or lobster) and fried whole belly clams. The space is simple and sparse with blue-checkered tablecloths and chalkboard menus. Daily specials and craft beers are available if you're dining in.

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9. Acadia 1639 S Wabash, Chicago, IL 60616 (South Loop)

Tucked away in a nondescript South Loop building, this Michelin-starred restaurant showcases chef Ryan McCaskey's contemporary take on classic American fare. Inspired by Maine, Acadia is unique for pulling off a sophisticated multi-course tasting menu (available in five or ten courses) and an à la carte bar menu that sports an aggressively indulgent burger. Whether you're there for the complete prix-fixe experience or for a cocktail and oysters at the bar, Acadia is definitely a special occasion spot.

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