The Art of Art Ross
Chicago Seafood Restaurants

A love of the water isn’t limited to city dwellers, and neither is a love of good seafood. This means that seafood restaurants are as popular in the ‘burbs as steak places. And it’s only natural that the bounty of Lake Michigan should make its way to the suburbs of Chicago. After all, that great lake provides water, recreation and income for many residents in Chicagoland—especially along the northern suburbs from Evanston to Waukegan, which border Lake Michigan on its west shore.

The lake provides us with food as well—fish, of course. And technology (specifically, 24-hour around-the-world shipping) makes it possible to send daily shipments of fish, shellfish and other foods from the oceans. This means you can find incredible seafood eateries anywhere in the area. Chicagoland’s own special character makes it inevitable. From sushi to Cajun-inspired dishes to shellfish, it’s all available here.

O’HARE

Nick’s Fishmarket Restaurant, in Rosemont,
is a cosmopolitan establishment enhanced with salt-water aquariums and a glass-enclosed wine cellar. This is a place to impress; great service is combined with fresh seafood and a hint of international flair. Reservations are recommended.

WESTERN SUBURBS

The lively, inviting ambiance at Braxton Seafood Grill is augmented by signature items, including Maryland crab cakes, lobster bisque and sweet biscuits. The art of food is taken seriously here; steaks are well prepared and seafood is flown in daily. The lounge hosts live jazz on weekends.

Catch 35 is considered to be one of Chicagoland’s best seafood and steak restaurants, and for good reason. The food choices here are truly exciting, innovative and super-fresh (for example, try the stir-fried wok dishes). The atmosphere is classy and the drink list is extensive. The restaurant is located in Naperville’s lovely downtown area, one of Chicagoland’s hidden gems. Reservations are recommended.

The unassuming Chinn’s 34th Street Fishery in Lisle houses a casual, low-key dining area for serving up extremely fresh and flavorful seafood along with signature Mai Tais. Chinn’s, owned by the nephew of famous area restaurateur Bob Chinn, is more substance than style—but that substance gets rave reviews.

Holy Mackerel! of Lombard, named for the trademark exclamation of one of Chicago’s most beloved sports announcers, Harry Caray, is all about being fresh. The fish, of course, is fresh and prepared in modern interpretations of classic dishes. The cocktails are also reinvented classics that focus on fresh fruit infusions, and the design is an original take on vintage design. Menus are adjusted often to take advantage of the daily catch—and, as a bonus, you can even order the juicy steaks that make Harry Caray’s Italian Steakhouse famous.

Hugo’s Frog Bar & Fish House in Naperville is classier than you might expect from the name; in fact, the place radiates elegance and comfort. And it happens to serve high-quality fish—flown in sometimes two or three times a day and never served more than a day old. The signature dish is, of course, frog legs pan-sauteed and topped with garlic butter—but the restaurant serves up to six fresh specials each day, featuring favorites like Ahi tuna, wild salmon, sea bass and cod with crabmeat stuffing.

Located inside the Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World store in Bolingbrook, Islamorada Fish Company Restaurant is decorated with aquariums and a marine theme, with an outdoor patio for nice weather. Islamorada, named for one of the Florida Keys, is a pleasant place to try an expansive menu that includes interesting preparations of fish, game, chicken and steaks.

The Key Wester Fish and Pasta House, part of the Portillo’s group, gets its inspiration from the tropics. The bar is named after a very famous Chicagoan and Key West resident, Ernest Hemingway. This is the place to go for upscale casual dining, on seafood seasoned with Caribbean and Cuban flavors.

A dining experience at McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood Restaurant in Oak Brook is always sophisticated and enjoyable, thanks to a fabulous happy hour and truly superior seafood. Over 30 fresh selections are available each day on an ever-changing menu that celebrates tradition and good taste.

Pappadeux Seafood Kitchen, located in Westmont, gives seafood a Cajun kick. Gumbos, etoufees, crawfish, alligator and fried dishes are among the bold flavors served at this Houston-born restaurant. Big salads, homemade desserts and fun appetizers will help you channel the spirit of Mardi Gras while you feast.

The cool contemporary and upscale vibe at Parkers’ Ocean Grill in Downer’s Grove is a perfect complement to signature dishes such as cedar-planked sturgeon, hand-harvested jumbo sea scallops, wood-roasted salmon and Shandong-style Ahi tuna. The wine list is extensive, the lounge dramatically designed and the mood relaxed.

Lettuce Entertain You’s Reel Club in Oak Brook is housed in a warmly modern space with a classy yet casual feel. The reasonably-priced restaurant specializes in signature salads, aged prime steaks, fresh fish, crab and lobster. The seafood Milanese is a must-taste dish and the wine flights genuinely spectacular.

The chefs at Tin Fish in Oakbrook Terrace take their business seriously, and it shows. From the modestly priced wine list and regular special events to the oyster bar and the choose-your-own-options for fresh fish preparation, this place does everything right.

NORTHWESTERN SUBURBS

The unique essence of the Caribbean islands is on the menu at Bahama Breeze in Schaumburg, where Cuban bread, plaintains, goat cheese, citrus butter and coconut are among the flavors and dishes available for seafood lovers. You can choose your own preparation of quality fresh fish, too. We’re getting warm and relaxed just thinking about it.

Bob Chinn’s Crab House in Wheeling gets consistently rated among the best restaurants in the Chicago area, and for good reason. This casual-yet-classy hotspot serves up an amazing array of seafood dishes, pasta, meats, specials—even a salad bar. And don’t forget to check the “jet fresh” board up front to find out exactly what just arrived each day.

 

The Bonefish Grill in Schaumburg lets you delight in a wide variety of fish selections from all over—your choice is cooked over a wood-burning grill then topped off with a sauce of your choice. Gourmet touches abound here, and fish specialties often include Atlantic salmon, rainbow trout, Ahi tuna and lobster tails.

Schaumburg’s Davis Street Fishmarket has been serving up three coasts’ worth of seafood since 1985. Full-throttle flavors from New Orleans meld with fresh fish and shellfish to create imaginative entrees and daily specials that will tingle your taste buds. A raw bar boasts seasonally available oysters, clams, crabs and lobsters.

Dover Straits, with locations in Hoffman Estates and Mundelein, simply offers great seafood at moderate prices in a casually elegant, colorful atmosphere. Named for the body of water that separates England and France, Dover Straits’ menu has an earthy international feel with plenty of choices to please any palate.

Lively and family-friendly, Joe’s Crab Shack in Gurnee is an outpost of a national chain that started as a beach-site shack in Houston. Today, the reasonably-priced restaurant is decorated with oceanic trinkets, staffed with table-dancing servers (a fun long-time tradition here) and stocked with all things crab.

The retail and dining mecca of Schaumburg includes a McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood Restaurant, where the mood is always sophisticated and laid-back. Happy hour here is special; the seafood is very fine too. Over 30 fresh selections are available daily, and the menu changes just as often.

The bold flavors of Louisiana are highlighted at Pappadeux Seafood Kitchen in Arlington Heights. You’ll find more traditional dishes like salads and homemade desserts, but you’ll be remiss if you don’t try the Cajun specialties or the chef’s special grilled selections, including trout, catfish, redfish, tilapia and salmon.

Pete Miller’s Seafood & Prime Steak’s Schaumburg and Wheeling locations feature a richly-appointed dining room, delicious steaks and fresh-from-the boat seafood. The experience is designed to evoke the swinging exuberance of the 1940s, complete with live jazz and luxurious service.

Shaw’s Crab House in Schaumburg is modeled after a 1940s-style warehouse with an Art Deco flair, and features two distinct restaurants. The main dining room is an original Shaw’s Crab House complete with 40 fresh crab and seafood dishes. The Red Shell Lounge is a place where “shrimp is king.” On the second floor, you’ll find the Board Room and private dining areas. Don’t miss Shaw’s legendary key lime pie!

NORTH SUBURBS


Evanston’s Davis Street Fishmarket takes flavors from New Orleans and melds them with catches from the country’s magnificent coasts. Fresh fish is flown in from all over to stock the innovative daily specials list and the raw bar. The decorating theme: fish. This is an elegant eatery that’s totally focused on the splendor of the sea.

Bob Chinn’s Crab House, in Wheeling, is among the suburbs’ dining treasures. With almost a million guests per year, this restaurant offers a casual but classy ambiance and an eclectic, endless selection of seafoods, pasta, meats, salads and specials. The Mai Tai’s are famous—and so is the freshness of the seafood, documented in detail each day on the “jet fresh” board up front.

The Bonefish Grill, tucked away in a little strip mall in Northbrook as well as Skokie (and Schaumburg in the Northwest suburbs) lets you pick your choice of fresh fish from all over, then top it off with a signature sauce such as mango salsa or chimichurri sauce. The grill imparts an oak-wood flavor to the fish entrée specialties and the drink menu is fine.

A dining experience at McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood Restaurant at Old Orchard in Skokie is always sophisticated and enjoyable, thanks to a fabulous happy hour and truly superior seafood. Over 30 fresh selections are available each day on an ever-changing menu that celebrates tradition and good taste.

Mitchell’s Fish Market in Glenview features a menu printed twice daily, with over 80 menu items. Fresh offerings from the Chilean coast, Bering Straight, Chesapeake Bay, Gulf of Mexico, the Great Lakes, Cape Cod and both oceans are represented here. The upscale, modern décor has an exclusive feel, and patio dining is available.

First-class North Shore dining doesn’t get any better than at Nick’s Fishmarket Restaurant in Deerfield. Take a date or a business associate to experience the great service, fresh seafood, premium stakes and excellent wine list. Reservations are recommended.

Pete Miller’s Seafood & Prime Steak, a gracefully-appointed local chain, has north suburban restaurants in Evanston and Wheeling (with an outdoor patio). Large yet cozy dining rooms offer quiet dining or live jazz music to enhance your meal. The drink list is impeccable, the desserts delectable, the seafood fresh and the steaks come custom-cooked with a choice of toppings.


Billed as the North Shore’s “first and finest” seafood place, Shrimp Walk Seafood Restaurant in the dining oasis of Highwood has been serving fresh fish, shrimp, crab and lobster since 1969. You can get your fish cooked in many different styles such as blackened, de Jonghe style, oven-broiled, almondine, pan-fried and barbecue-grilled. This is a casual, pleasant eatery with outside areas for nice weather.

 

 
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