Food & Drink

The 20 Best Seafood Restaurants in Chicago

Published On 08/11/2015 Published On 08/11/2015
Courtesy of Shaw's Crab House/Anjali Pinto
Nicole Bruce/Thrillist
Courtesy of Brown Bag Seafood
Courtesy of Joe's Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab/Anjali Pinto
Courtesy of The FishGuy Market/Wellfleet
Courtesy of Happy Lobster Truck/Geoff Stellfox
Courtesy of  Shaw's Crab House/Anajli Pinto
Courtesy of mfk.
Courtesy of Joey's Shrimp House 
Courtesy of Lawrence's Fisheries/Alexander Gouletas
Courtesy of Joe Fish/Nick Ulivieri
Courtesy of Da Lobsta
Courtesy of Pearl Tavern
Titus Ruscitti/Thrillist
Courtesy of GT Fish & Oyster
Courtesy of Sink|Swim
Mike Gebert/Thrillist
Courtesy of Luke's Lobster/Jessica P. Lin
Courtesy of Fish Bar
Courtesy of New England Seafood Company Restaurant & Fish Market
Courtesy of Fahlstrom’s Fresh Fish Market
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1. The Angry Crab 5665 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL 60659

This BYOB Cajun spot serves up some of the freshest seafood in the city (think giant, spice-encrusted crabs and plump shrimp immersed in garlic butter) ordered by the pound. Your food will be delivered via large plastic bag plopped down on your paper-covered table -- no plates or utensils necessary.

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2. Brown Bag Seafood Co. 340 E Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60601

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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3. Joe's Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab 60 E Grand Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

At the Chicago offshoot of the Miami-based Joe's Stone Crab, jumbo Alaskan king crab legs, oysters on the half shell, and shrimp & scallop ceviche are all on the menu. Although the seafood is incredible, don't overlook the steak -- or the fried chicken. Joe's has an Art Deco vibe that fits with its Miami roots, and the interior is power lunch-meets-steakhouse with black leather chairs and wood-accented walls.

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4. The Fishguy Market 4423 N Elston Ave, Chicago, IL 60630

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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5. Shaw’s Crab House 21 E Hubbard St, Chicago, IL 60611

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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6. mfk. 432 W Diversey Pkwy, Chicago, IL 60614

This seafood-focused restaurant transports you to a coastal Spanish fishing village with its simple, rustic dishes. Small plates range from light Cantabrian salt-cured anchovies served atop butter bread, to hearty, deep-fried manchego and speck-stuffed croquettes with a roast garlic aioli for dipping. And with the kitchen open to midnight on Friday and Saturday, you can treat yourself to a true Spanish-style dinner.

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7. Joey's Shrimp House 1432 N Western Ave, Chicago, IL 60622

This Humboldt Park resto's name says it all. But in addition to their tasty shrimp, you can also order up cold beer, and dine in until 2am on Fridays and Saturdays.

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8. Lawrence's Fisheries 2120 S Canal St, Chicago, IL 60616

This Chinatown seafood spot is open 24/7 and their shrimp has earned them a loyal following, using a traditional, thicker-style breading that rivals just about any other resto around town.

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9. Joe Fish 445 N Dearborn St, Chicago, IL 60654

Joe Fish flies fresh seafood in daily and pairs it with craft beers, fine wines, and signature cocktails. This Italian-inspired seafood joint has amazing clams, but the lobster rolls are a must-try dish.

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10. Pearl Tavern 180 N Wacker Dr, Chicago, IL 60606

The pearl Tavern comes to us via restaurant developer Adolfo Garcia who has taken on the task of bringing old-style Chicago back to well, Chicago. Expect fresh seafood and oysters galore at this charming establishment.

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11. 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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12. GT Fish & Oyster 531 N Wells St, Chicago, IL 60654

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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13. Sink | Swim 3213 W Armitage Ave, Chicago, IL 60647

From the good people that brought you the gin-focused Scofflaw and the dance-ready Slippery Slope, nautical-themed Sink|Swim proves its seafood game is on point with affordable yet refreshingly inspired offerings like a shrimp toast tea sandwich and monkfish liver torchon. As for the digs? Charming, with whitewashed walls, teal tufted seats, and framed ocean-themed paintings hung along the perimeter.

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14. Calumet Fisheries 3259 E 95th St, Chicago, IL 60617

It's no wonder Calumet Fisheries, on the far south side of Chicago, was featured on Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations. Open since the 1940s, the family-owned seafood shack is one of the only smokehouses left in Chicago that smokes fish naturally over a wood fire. It offers an endless variety of smoked fish -- from salmon, sturgeon, and white fish to trout, catfish, and shrimp. Not to mention, its fried stuff is pretty good too.

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15. Luke’s Lobster 134 N LaSalle St, Chicago, IL 60602

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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16. Fish Bar 2956 N Sheffield Ave, Chicago, IL 60657

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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17. New England Seafood Company Fish Market 3341 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL 60657

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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18. Fahlstrom's Fresh Fish Market 1258 W Belmont Ave, Chicago, IL 60657

For nicely priced seafood and a casual, laid-back vibe, look no further than Fahlstrom's, a bright storefront with cereal mascot-themed chalkboard art and vibrant blue accents throughout. Though it specializes in fish offerings like a cornmeal-encrusted catfish po’ boy, New England clam chowder with bacon, and rotating catch-of-the-day specials, Fahlstrom's actually does really great burgers and meatloaf sandwiches, too. And thanks to a "breakfast anytime" menu, featuring omelets, pancakes, and more, you can even get your BFD (breakfast-for-dinner) fix.