The Windy City. The Second City. The White City. The City of Big Shoulders. The City that Works. Whatever you want to call Chicago, it’s one of those places that everyone knows. And they most likely have a story that takes place with Chicago as the backdrop.
Most favorite Chicago memories have something to do with food. The City is no stranger to outstanding cuisine, and that’s particularly true of seafood.
Sometimes considered the capital of the Midwest, it might seem strange to think of Chicago as a vibrant seafood city. But no shortage of excellent seafood will quickly assuage your fears.
So when you’re out on the town, enjoy the thriving nightlife in Chicago; I strongly suggest you hit up a seafood joint and see for yourself just how divine it is. Check out my list of the best seafood restaurants in Chicago below!
21 E Hubbard St, Chicago, IL 60611
A 1940s-style oyster bar and seafood joint, Shaw’s Crab House sits just a stone’s throw from Lake Michigan and the Chicago Riverwalk.
With parks and famous attractions all around, Shaw’s is a popular destination for anyone looking to hop inside for a quick bite of delicious seafood.
Serving the Chicago community since the 1980s, Shaw’s crab House uses only the freshest seafood available, flying it in daily from their skilled sources.
If you get a chance to stop for lunch, make sure you try the Maryland Style Crab Cake. Paired with a cup of Seafood Gumbo and the Parmesan Crusted Haddock, I had the best day of my life enjoying the fare at Shaw’s Crab House.
60 E Grand Ave, Chicago, IL 60611
This surf ‘n’ turf restaurant features classic steak and seafood dishes, served in style by the classiest wait staff I’ve ever seen.
Sitting on East Grand Avenue, just blocks away from Navy Pier, Joe’s is one of those Chicago gems you don’t want to miss. Joe’s began in Miami Beach over 100 years ago. Still one of the premier seafood shops in the country, the legacy lives on at this Chicago hub.
The dinner menu is busting with delicious seafood options. Start with The Whale, an appetizer that includes a beautiful assortment of crab, lobster tails, and shrimp. I recommend taking a group and enjoying these works of art together.
432 W Diversey Pkwy, Chicago, IL 60614
Located just across the street from Lincoln Park, this charming little place is unforgettable. Inspired by a relaxing day on the seashore, Mfk. Restaurant specializes in offering rare seafood experiences.
Mfk. is an award-winning joint that opened in 2014. Inspired by Spain’s Catalan and Basque regions, the casual seafood restaurant delights each customer with simple cuisine that tastes divine.
When you stop by for dinner – and I strongly urge you to stop by for dinner – make sure you start with the ciabatta. Served with Maldon Butter and Garlic Olive Oil, it’s the perfect way to kick off your adventure.
I suggest you follow that up with the Spanish Tortilla with Baked Salt Cod Brandade and pickled shallots.
1024 N Rush St, Chicago, IL 60611
Sitting off North Rush Street, only blocks from the Museum of Contemporary Art and the John Hancock tower, Hugo’s Frog Bar & Fish House offers an upscale seafood experience unlike any other.
Hugo’s boasts a delicious variety of seafood and a delightful selection of cocktails, beer, and wine with other locations in Naperville and Des Plaines. I started with a small bowl of New England Clam Chowder.
That was a solid choice. Moving on to the fresh fish menu, I tried the Planked Lake Superior Whitefish for something local, and it was excellent. The Summer Fever Gin & Tonic paired with it beautifully and left me feeling satisfied.
The Angry Crab boasts two Chicago locations. The south location on North Milwaukee Avenue sits between Goose Island to the east and Humboldt Park to the west.
The other place on North Lincoln Avenue makes its home a few blocks west of Rosehill Cemetery. This popular casual Cajun joint is opening a third location in 2022 in Melrose Park.
Part of Angry Crab’s charm comes from management, allowing guests to bring their beer or wine along for just a $3 corkage fee. On my visit, I started with the Cajun-Garlic French Fries.
Feeling like oysters, I checked out the California Char-Grilled with tomato, cilantro, and lime. If oysters aren’t your thing, the catch of the day is always a great bet!
87 E Wacker Dr, Chicago, IL 60601
On the south bank of the Chicago River, just west of the historic DuSable Bridge and Chicago riverwalk, the upscale chain known as Ocean Prime sits ready and waiting.
With a sophisticated feel and a timeless menu, Ocean Prime is an essential Chicago experience. Created by the famous, award-winning Cameron Mitchel Restaurants, Ocean Prime in Chicago is one of 17 locations across the United States.
Each location focuses on channeling the energy of its city and serving its community well.
If you’re a sushi fan, I suggest going straight for the Ahi Tuna Tartare. Pair that with the lovely French Onion soup and follow it all up with the Warm Butter Cake.
Served with fresh berries and raspberry sauce, it’s the perfect end to an excellent meal.
3259 E 95th St, Chicago, IL 60617
A tiny little seafood shop that’s been serving Chicago’s South Side since 1948, Calumet Fisheries is the very definition of “legacy.”
Opened by a couple of brothers-in-law, the little fishery is still serving some of the tastiest fish in the area. Calumet is strictly take-out.
You can eat in your car; you can go for a walk – Lake Michigan isn’t that far away. But you can’t sit inside.
There’s plenty of tasty smoked fish to try at Calumet. The Smoked Catfish was my favorite, and the Smoked Trout with pepper and garlic was a close second. If you want to get a full meal with fries and coleslaw, definitely try the Crab Cakes.
676 W Diversey Pkwy, Chicago, IL 60614
You get the outstanding neighborhood joint Half Shell when you combine a pub and seafood.
Started in 1968 by Chicago native Danny Denizman, Half Shell is now owned and operated by Danny’s grandson. On West Diversey Parkway, Half Shell looks like a basement tavern with a raw bar.
Half Shell is Chicago’s longest-running crab house, an excellent testament to the strength of the legacy of a family business.
Knowing the history made me fall in love with Half Shell before I ever walked through the doors.
And then I tried the Shrimp Po’Boy, and I never looked back. It’s now one of my favorite places in all of the Midwest.
There’s no question that Brown Bag Seafood Co. is a popular seafood restaurant. With eight different locations throughout Chicago, you can stop at Brown Bag no matter what side of the city you’re visiting.
With two other locations in Atlanta, Georgia, Brown Bag Seafood Co. offers delicious seafood at a reasonable price. Since opening in 2014, the company has sought to create a unique seafood experience with a highly approachable atmosphere.
With various options that you can mix and match, you can’t go wrong at Brown Bag Seafood Co. First, you pick your seafood, then the way you want it prepared (in a sandwich, taco, salad, etc.), and then add a unique side. I tried the Lobster Roll with Truffle-Parm Tots and was blown away.
Lowcountry is a casual, Southern-style seafood joint with three locations around Chicago – one in South Loop, one in Lakeview, and one in Chinatown.
Whichever one you pick to try, you’re in for a treat. For six years, Lowcountry has been serving some of the best seafood Chicago has to offer.
In its simple, homestyle way, Lowcountry provides a relaxing experience that centers around the most important thing: food.
The ordering is simple: you fill a bag (yes, a bag) with protein, sauce, and some sides. You choose how hot you want it, all the way from Weak to Ridiculously Hot – which is, in fact, ridiculously hot. It’s an experience you don’t want to miss.
1962 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614
As you probably guessed from the name, Quality Crab & oyster Bah is a nautical, Northeastern, New England-style seafood spot that leans into the unique theme.
Sitting on North Halsted Street, just south of Oz Park and west of the Old Town Triangle, Quality is one of those curious experiences I didn’t realize I needed until I walked through the doors. But once I sat down, I knew it was a match made in heaven.
The Blue Crab Fried Rice is an excellent starter. Or the Sizzling Garlic Shrimp. Their classic Fish & Chips comes battered in apple cider for the meal. Otherwise, the grilled Fish Tacos feature an outstanding herb-marinated Mahi Mahi.
1225 Forest Ave, Des Plaines, IL 60018
Located on Forest Avenue in Des Plaines, west of the central Chicago hub, you’ll find a lovely little spot called Boston Fish Market.
This full-service market features fresh and frozen options from all around, with various unique choices to make the shopping experience worthwhile.
The Boston Fish Market was opened by Louie, a man from Greece who dreamed all his life of opening a Mediterranean-style fish market in America.
Now the executive chef, Louie makes everything fresh and in-house. The seafood dinner options come charbroiled with roasted vegetables and wild rice.
The Scottish Salmon is absolutely divine. And I highly recommend trying the Gulf Red Snapper.
317 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60654
Overlooking the Chicago River, RPM Seafood is an excellent place to enjoy quality food sourced from the best possible ingredients.
This upscale dining experience will leave you pleasantly stuffed and yet ready for another delicious round.
I suggest starting with the Citrus-Cured Salmon served with Thai vinaigrette. Do yourself a favor and follow that up with the 24-ounce bone-in Swordfish Ribeye with coriander and herb oil.
And when it’s time for dessert, the Hazelnut Praline will finish you off nicely. You won’t regret it, trust me.
134 N LaSalle St, Chicago, IL 60602
If you find yourself in the mood for Maine-style lobster rolls and maybe some old-fashioned clam chowder, then check out Luke’s Lobster in the heart of The Loop on North LaSalle Street.
A family-owned, Maine-based seafood bar, Luke’s Lobster started in 2013 in Saco, Maine.
With lobster shack locations across the United States, Japan, and Singapore, Luke’s Lobster is a fast-growing family business built around delivering quality lobster to the community.
The Lobster Roll is the obvious choice for a real Luke’s Lobster experience. However, if you feel like some variety, I suggest grabbing the Luke’s Trio. Featuring lobster, crab, and shrimp, it’s got all the goodies wrapped up in one dish.
1024 N Ashland Ave, Chicago, IL 60622
On North Ashland Avenue, Alegria’s Seafood features a lively Mexican-style interior. It’s a bit snug, but that’s all part of the charm.
Sitting down for an authentic Mexican-style seafood meal at Alegria’s is an experience unto itself.
There’s nothing extravagant about Alegria’s. It’s a simple, no-frills restaurant that focuses on good food and a good time.
You can bring your beer and enjoy quality seafood with your closest friends. I suggest taking some pals along and trying one of the sharing plates.
The Cangrejo Relleno features stuffed crab with special house sauce. It’s divine and will leave you feeling pleasantly satisfied.
The great news about Chicago is that your seafood needs will be met. The bad news: you have to pick which one to try first. Hopefully, this list lends a helpful hand.
Want to try a different type of dining experience where you can grill meat on your table? You should definitely try dining at a Korean BBQ restaurant. Check out our recommended list of the best Korean BBQ in Chicago.
Did we leave a restaurant out of this list? Make sure you leave us a comment, and we’ll check it out!