Best Seafood Restaurants in Chicago


Fasten your lifejackets because we're setting sail on a maritime voyage through the best seafood restaurants in the Windy City. Yes, you read that right – seafood in Chicago, a city more than 800 miles from the nearest ocean. Sounds fishy? Not at all! From steakhouses to fish houses, Chicago has it all.

Chicago may be landlocked, but that doesn't mean it can't serve up a seafood extravaganza that's fresher than your latest wardrobe update. We're talking melt-in-your-mouth lobster rolls, king crab legs dripping in butter, delicate oysters, and hearty seafood chowders that'll have you swooning.

Join me, your Captain Ahab of shellfish, as we embark on this epicurean expedition, navigating the choppy waters of menus and diving into the deep sea of flavors. We'll drop anchor at bustling seafood shacks, sophisticated oyster bars, and fusion food haunts that serve up some of the most tantalizing oceanic offerings you've ever seen or tasted.

Calling all pescatarians and carnivores ready to dip their taste buds into Neptune's pantry, this guide is about to set your compass straight for seafood heaven. So, doll up in your nautical best, grab your silverware, and perhaps a glass of that perfectly chilled white – because it's time to deep dive into the ocean of delectables, the Chicago way.

Are you ready? Let's get our shell-ebration on!

Brown Bag Seafood Co

Fasten your bibs because we're diving into a treasure trove of marine morsels in the heart of Chicago! Let's set sail for Brown Bag Seafood Co., darling, a culinary lighthouse guiding you through the stormy seas of the city's food scene.

Nestled on the bustling corner of Randolph and Wells, this little gem is serving up big flavors that are fresher than your last mani-pedi! And the best part? It's all packed neatly into an eco-friendly brown bag, making it perfect for on-the-go gastronomes.

Brown Bag Seafood Co. is not your average seafood shack, sweeties. Its menu is an exciting swirl of under-the-sea delights thoughtfully curated and prepared with love. One bite, and you'll be craving more!

Now, let's dish on their popular menu items. The Daily Catch is where it's at. It's a rotating selection of fresh fish caught just in time to make your taste buds do the salsa. You can have it straight-up, grilled, or tucked into a cozy little taco. Yum!

And for my pescatarian pals who want to try something a little offbeat, how about the Powerbox? It's a healthful ensemble of grilled seafood, crunchy veggies, and zingy sauces; all huddled together in a neat little package.

Don't forget to leave room for their 'Lil Crabbies - bite-sized crab cake sliders that are as adorable as they are delicious. Pair these with a glass of crisp white wine, and darling, you're in for a culinary voyage you won't soon forget!

So, the next time you find yourself fluttering about in the Windy City, chart your course for Brown Bag Seafood Co. It's the kind of seafood spot that gives you beach vibes, even when you're surrounded by skyscrapers. Let's get our fish on, darlings!

Shaw's Crab House

Get ready to drop anchor at our next stop, Shaw's Crab House, one of the best restaurants in the Chicago seafood scene. For over three decades, this iconic eatery has been serving up some of the finest catches to seafood lovers and discerning diners alike.

Stepping into Shaw's is like embarking on a nostalgic journey back to the swanky supper clubs of the 1930s. Its vintage charm, combined with a friendly, warm dining room and overall vibe, offers a fine-dining experience as comforting as its menu.

And what a menu it is! Shaw's shines in its mastery of traditional seafood fare. The restaurant boasts an impressive selection of fresh fish and shellfish, including succulent Maine lobster, King crab legs that are the stuff of legends, and a variety of fresh oysters from their famous oyster bar. Their Maryland-style crab cakes packed full of lump crab and served with tangy mustard mayo are a must-try. Plus, they have classic seafood soups like Cajun gumbo, clam chowder, jambalaya, and lobster bisque that will knock your socks off.  

But perhaps the true hero of the Shaw's experience is their Sunday Brunch. Imagine an all-you-can-eat smorgasbord of seafood delights – oysters on the half shell, lobster bisque, ahi tuna poke, and so much more. Throw in some waffles, bacon, and an omelet station, and you've got a brunch that's the catch of the day!

Seafood lovers, if you haven't visited Shaw's Crab House yet, you're missing a Chicago classic. So, get ready to crack some claws and feast on the ocean's bounty at this delightful seafood emporium.

Joe's Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab

Ahoy, mateys! Our culinary compass now points us towards Joe's Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab, a restaurant that has been winning the hearts and stomachs of Chicagoans with its dual offering of succulent seafood and mouth-watering meat.

Originally from Miami, Joe's made a splash in Chicago by introducing the city to its famous stone crabs. These tasty crustaceans served chilled and pre-cracked, are a revelation. Paired with Joe's iconic mustard sauce, they've become a must-try for seafood enthusiasts. Remember, though, these crabs are subject to seasonal availability, so plan your visit accordingly.

But Joe's isn't just about crabs. The menu offers a bounty of seafood treasures, from Alaskan King Crab legs to jumbo lump crab cakes. Not to be outdone, their steak selection is equally compelling, boasting perfectly aged, prime, hand-carved cuts of beef.

Joe's also serves a killer key lime pie, a nod to their Florida roots. This tart and sweet finale is the perfect palate cleanser after a hearty seafood (or steak) feast.

With its dark wood interiors, white tablecloths, and vintage photos, the atmosphere at Joe's is upscale without being pretentious. The service is top-notch, and the staff will make you feel like a regular, even on your first visit.

So, whether you're a seafood lover, a steak aficionado, or simply someone who appreciates good food, Joe's Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab has something to make your culinary heart sail. Get ready to be swept off your feet, or should I say claws?

The Angry Crab

If you're looking for seafood that's as fun to eat as it is delicious, set your sights on The Angry Crab. This vibrant, casual joint in West Rogers Park (with a second location in Wicker Park) offers the freshest seafood experience, one that’s as lively and inviting as a beach party, especially when it comes to their happy hour menu.

The Angry Crab takes its inspiration from the seafood boil culture of the Southern Gulf Coast. Their menu is bursting with a variety of shellfish – from crawfish and shrimp to king crab and lobster – all sold by the pound and smothered in your choice of flavorful, spicy sauces.

Don't expect cutlery here, or even plates, for that matter. At The Angry Crab, it's all about the hands-on experience. Your seafood feast arrives in a plastic bag, bathing in a pool of delicious, garlicky sauce. You get bibs, gloves, and a bucket for the shells. It's messy, it's boisterous, and it's the fun way to enjoy your entree.

The atmosphere is relaxed and the décor nautically kitsch, with patrons encouraged to leave their mark - quite literally - by writing on the walls. The staff are friendly and always on hand to guide you through the menu and the unique dining experience.

If you're up for an unpretentious, down-to-earth seafood feast where the emphasis is on taste and fun, then The Angry Crab will leave you anything but angry. Remember, this isn't the place for a first date (unless you're both adventurous foodies), but it's perfect for a lively night out with friends or family.


Now let’s set sail for the final destination on our seafood journey - mfk., a small but mighty seafood restaurant tucked away in the East Lakeview neighborhood. This James Beard-nominated spot is a tribute to the coastal cuisine of Spain, taking its name from the legendary food writer M.F.K. Fisher who had a deep appreciation for the bounties of the sea.

mfk.'s menu, inspired by Barcelona's vibrant seaside fare, is a treasure trove of Spanish delights. Here, simplicity is the key, letting the quality of the ingredients shine through. You'll find a rotating menu of seafood dishes, with standout offerings like the delicate sea urchin toast, Manila clams cooked in garlic and sherry, and their acclaimed Boquerones (marinated white anchovies).

For the more adventurous, there's the daily ceviche or the whole fish of the day, cooked to perfection and bursting with fresh flavors. Pair these dishes with their curated wine list, boasting some unique Spanish vintages, and you're set for a seafood feast fit for royalty.

The restaurant's cozy, intimate atmosphere is reminiscent of a Spanish beach house, with blue-tiled walls, nautical-themed decor, and warm, welcoming service.

A visit to mfk. is more than just a meal - it's an escape to the sun-drenched coasts of Spain, a place where seafood is celebrated, and every dish is a testament to the ocean's bounty. So, put on your imaginary sun hat, order a glass of crisp Albariño, and get ready to be transported to seafood heaven at mfk.

Honorable Mentions

  • Alegria’s Seafood Chicago — This mariscos delight incorporates Mexican seafood with Japanese and French cooking techniques. Mariscos dishes include scallop aquachile, blue prawn, octopus, and more.

  • RPM Seafood — Located on 317 N Clark St, enjoy fresh seafood with a view of The Loop and Lake Michigan.

  • Two Fish Crab Shack — A BYOB joint off 47th Street.

  • Boston Fish Market — Enjoy Greek and Cajun flavors at this Chicago restaurant located off Oakton Pl.

  • Calumet Fisheries — Dating back to 1948, this long-standing eatery is a must-visit.

  • Hugo’s Frog Bar & Fish House — Located on Rush St.

  • Dirk's Fish & Gourmet Shop — Located in Lincoln Park.

An Unlikely Seafood Spot

Red Curry Lobster made with green papaya and candied peanuts from RPM Seafood

Voila, my aquatic darlings! Consider this your glittering treasure map to the crème de la crème of seafood joints in the Windy City. Whether you’re craving Scallops, catfish, caviar, mussels, fried shrimp, or clam chowder, or want to go bold with a plate of frog legs or a classic po’ boy, Chicago has the eats for you!

From the sleek and chic GT Fish & Oyster to the playful splash of The Angry Crab, and the beachy vibes of mfk., these seafood sanctuaries prove you don't need the seaside to bask in the culinary delights of Neptune's kitchen. So, plot your culinary journey, set your sails, and dive right into the tantalizing tide of Chicago's seafood scene. Bon Appétit, darlings, and remember - smooth seas never made a skilled sailor! Now, go fish!

Want More? My Tips & Tricks!