Chicago’s Best Restaurants for Fish and Seafood
As the weather gets warmer in Chicago (and, yes, that does happen eventually), people’s food selections tend to go lighter. Though many of us are still fond of center-of-the-plate protein, that central protein does not need to be red meat. It can be fish, the quintessential “light” protein.
With two major airports, Chicago is fortunate to have access to some of the best fish and seafood in the world, shipped to Chicago overnight and served fresh the next day. When that fresh catch reaches Chicago restaurants, great dishes emerge from the kitchen.
Here are seven of Chicago’s best restaurants for fish and seafood.
GT Fish & Oyster. With the word “fish” in the name of the place, you’d expect GT Fish & Oyster to serve up some sterling exemplars of oceanic perfection, and they do. In addition to daily selections of pristine and expertly shucked oysters, Chef Giuseppe Tentori can start you off with a Smoked Platter (octopus, whitefish, trout and scallop) and entrees like the simple Fish & Chips (with excellent beer-battered cod) or the more elaborate Branzino with hearts of palm and corn agnolotti.
Fat Rice. Specializing in the food of Macau, Fat Rice has a wide selection of fish and seafood offerings that reflect the powerful influences of Portugal and Asia. There’s house-made cod spread with chili and mint, Portuguese sardines with Chinese mustard and Eurasian pickles, and braised octopus with Rangpur limes. If your tastes run to the adventurous, and you’re in the mood for fish and seafood, Fat Rice is the perfect place to explore foods you’ve never had before.
mfk. Inspired by the Spanish tradition of excellent fish and seafood, mfk serves up some original takes on the classics. Smoked trout roe with Green Goddess is a good way to start, and entrees include other tantalizing combinations like seafood fideos with toasted capellini and squid with chorizo and cider.
Parson’s Chicken and Fish. Fried is the way that many of us enjoy our fish and seafood, and Parson’s knows how to best show off the beauty of aquatic protein by passing it through a hot oil bath. The Fish Fry comes in 3, 6, or 9 pieces with Texas toast and slaw (tradition!), and there’s also a beer-battered fish sandwich with aioli and Northern Star pickles.
Le Colonial. Vietnam is a country with a long, long coast, so seafood is understandably a big part of the diet in that growing, yet ancient, country. The seafood ceviche is a good way to start, with lightly pickled scallops and shrimp with taro and Vietnamese coriander. Hanoi monkfish is spectacular, wok-seared with turmeric. Another dish you definitely want to sample is the Green Shrimp Curry or the Spicy Shrimp Stir-Fry. In Southeast Asia, they know how to care for and cook shrimp, scallops and many other kinds of deliciousness from the sea.
Momotaro. Among Chicago’s many sushi restaurants, Momotaro is one of the very finest. In addition to the raw fish, served with exquisite attention to detail, there are also many prepared dishes of fish and seafood. You will be knocked out by Scallop Motoyaki with lemon miso, daikon and scallion crust, as well as Sake No Teriyaki with Faroe Island salmon and shichimi.
Oceanique. The name says it all: this is the place where you come for gifts of the sea done with a French flourish. Cold plates include Iranian Pearl Asetra Caviar and Chilled Prince Edward Island Pink Moon Oysters. For the warm plates, there are a great many options to choose from including Wild Japanese Day Boat Scallops and Bouillabaisse Oceanique, which affords tastes of many different fish – all fresh and delicious – including barramundi, trout and skate.