Best seafood restaurants in Chicago

Certain restaurants are known for their expertise at turning out signature dishes really well. They've pinned down the ingredients, mastered the process, and gained a strong following as a result. Chicago has had much success cultivating great restaurants and creating a substantial market for Seafood. Locals can't get enough of the city's excellent food, and you'll often find them, along with eager tourists, at popular Shaw's Crab House Chicago or at Joe's Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab, a major player in the field.

Make sure you see what all the fuss is about!

Joe's Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab

This classic dinner club-style restaurant boasts a vaulted ceiling, dark wooden furniture, and excellent lighting, making it an ideal place for a power lunch or entertaining important clients. Partner of the famous Joe's Stone Crab in Miami, this River North gem features a selection of fresh seafood and steaks. Of course, rumor has it that the stone crab claws alone are worth the trip.

The Shops at North Bridge, 60 East Grand Avenue, Chicago, IL 60611

(312) 379-5637

Shaw's Crab House Chicago

Shaw's offers two distinct dining options – the casual oyster bar and the more upscale main dining room. Polished wood paneling and globe lighting set the scene, and the menu boasts a wide variety of fish and seafood: Copper River king salmon, Pacific halibut, and charred sashimi tuna, for example. Though limited, the dessert menu offers abundant temptations, and live music is offered in the oyster bar every Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday.

21 East Hubbard Street, Chicago, IL 60611

(312) 527-2722

Oceanique

Fabulous seafood entrees paired with an excellent wine list cause this Evanston restaurant to be a top pick by knowledgeable locals. The long, narrow dining room is elegant with amber colored walls, a tile floor, and flowing fabric draping the ceiling. The menu changes daily, taking advantage of in-season items. Sample items include roast rack of venison with Shiraz and black currant sauce, roast sirloin of beef, and pan seared foie gras with pear chutney, gailon, and caramelized pineapple. Prix fixe wine dinners served once a month.

1024 North Rush Street, Chicago, IL 60611

(312) 640-0999

Hugo's Frog Bar & Fish House

Famous for serving tasty frog legs, this restaurant is owned by the same folks as Gibson's Steakhouse next door. The menu at Hugo's focuses on seafood, and fresh deliveries are made several times a day, but you can order a steak from the neighboring kitchen if you're in the mood. If you're having difficulty selecting, know that mesquite-grilled mahi mahi, pan-fried walleye pike, and whitefish all make excellent choices. A nautical theme and three separate dining areas also distinguish Hugo's. (312-640-0999)

Nick's Fishmarket

Nick's food has an American-Continental sensibility and includes seafood, beef, poultry, pastas, and vegetarian dishes. Among the scrumptious options are roasted salmon fillet, lobster tail, and Dover sole – all perfectly prepared and expertly presented.

10275 West Higgins Road,Rosemont, IL

(847) 298-8200

Catch 35

If you've made up your mind to have seafood, make a beeline for this notable place, whose vast menu features lots of seafood favorites prepared in a variety of culinary styles. Choose from the likes of Chilean sea bass, stir-fried shrimp and scallops, seared Creole seasoned salmon, Bahamian fish chowder, grilled Atlantic salmon, and grilled yellow fin tuna. Steaks can also be had, and live jazz is a treat in the bar most nights. Valet parking available.

35 West Upper Wacker Drive, Chicago, IL 60601

(312) 346-3500

Cape Cod Room

This classically elegant restaurant is located in the Drake Hotel and has become a Chicago institution. It's definitely the place to go for old-fashioned pampering and a fresh seafood meal. Order the Dover sole, the lobster thermidor, the crab legs, or the roasted black Cod. The interior hearkens back to the shipping days of yore, with red-checkered tablecloths, exposed wood beams, weather vanes, and stuffed sailfish. Reservations recommended.

Drake Bros, 140 East Walton Place, Chicago, IL 60611

(312) 787-2200

Half Shell

While Half Shell's location and dim room spangled year-round with Christmas lights may not immediately impress, your first taste of amazingly tender, succulent snow crab legs surely will. The house-specialty crab legs, served with butter and lemon, arrive in satisfying, heaping portions. Oysters, catfish, scallops, red snapper, and perfectly fried jumbo shrimp also delight. True to the no-frills vibe, entrees are typically served in red plastic baskets with non-traditional accoutrements: white toast and a lollipop.

676 West Diversey Parkway, Chicago, IL 60614

(773) 549-1773

Calumet Fisheries

This smoke shack was born when the steel industry was thriving and the area was populated by hungry day laborers. Set at the base of the famous Blues Brothers bridge, this little white box brings in customers from all around for smoked shrimp, trout and sable, which are always on offer. You’ll see folks sitting in their cars eating their picks out of paper bags, a quintessential part of the experience.

3259 East 95th Street, Chicago, IL 60617

(773) 933-9855

Fish Bar

There are some “quirky” touches to David Morton and Michael Kornick’s fish shack (witness the cocktail named Mezcal Me Maybe). But the menu is nothing if not straightforward. The fried items all have great flavor (like the fried onions with lemon and jalapeño), but sometimes they arrive soft instead of crisp. Likewise, the sweet and herby lobster roll can get a little chewy in parts. But the cheap beers, pie slices and items from the plancha (grill)? Simple, perfect and seriously good, respectively.

2956 North Sheffield Avenue, Chicago, IL 60657

(773) 687-8177

GT Fish & Oyster

Kevin Boehm and Rob Katz – the restaurateurs behind Girl & the Goat – are behind this seafood spot that’s raised the profile of chef Giuseppe Tentori. The food coming out of here would make any cook a star. Sunfish ceviche sparkles with acidity but is never drowned by it, barbecued eel is geniusly paired with a potato-and-octopus salad, and pastas (basil gnocchi; agnolotti with crawfish) are nothing short of masterful. Stop by the bar for oysters and cocktails if nothing else.

531 North Wells Street, Chicago, IL 60654

(312) 929-3501

Eddie V's

Eddie V's Prime Seafood is a luxury dining experience known for its prime seafood, premium steaks, award-winning wine list and exceptional service. The atmosphere is refined yet relaxed, with live jazz and blues played nightly in the V Lounge.

521 N. Rush Street, Chicago, IL 60611

(312)595-1114

Calo Ristorante

Calo Ristorante still has shrinp de jonghe in both appetizer and entree portions on the lunch and dinner menus. More convenient to Old Irving is Sabatinos whose menu lists one size of the dish at lunch and both appetizer and entree portions at dinner.

5343 North Clark Street, Chicago, IL 60640

(773) 271-7782

Devon Seafood Grill

39 E. Chicago Avenue, Chicago, IL 60611

(312) 440-8660

Happy Valentine's Day

Nothing says "Happy Valentine's Day" like a basket of fried shrimp, right? They are wonderful for soaking up alcohol in the middle of the night, but Chicago's fried shrimp houses also manage to keep alive the dream that we, too, can access the fruits of the Gulf anytime of the year. Bonus points go to those who make their own zippy cocktail sauce. Sure, there was an oil spill last summer down there, cutting off the shrimpers for a while, but it hasn't seemed to slow these folks down one bit (which makes me wonder, but oh, what the hell).

1. Frank's Chicago Shrimp House, 4459 S. Archer Ave, (773) 523-4624

2. Hagen's Fish Market, 5635 W. Montrose Ave., (773) 283-1944

3. Snappy's Shrimp House, 1901 West Irving Park Road, (773) 244-1008

4. Goose Island Shrimp House, 1011 West Division Street, (312) 642-3640

5. Troha's Shrimp and Fish House, 4151 W 26th St., (773) 521-7847

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