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Aug 22, 2001 04:11 PM

joe's fried shrimp

  • r

is it real... can't find in phone book and ever since al's on grand avenue left the longing for a paper bag of real not frozen french fried shrimp is almost too much to bear...thanks

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  1. We've had a lot of great postings this week, but this might be Post of the Week. You've expressed in 36 words of free verse the pure, raw, undiluted essence of chowhound hankering.


    I assume you are referring to the posting linked below. If so, the capitalization leads me to believe Vital Information was talking about a restaurant named "Joe's" that makes fried shrimp.

    the only reference to a "Joe's" that I can find on this Chicago board puts it "on North very close to harlem". Hopefully the other Chicago hounds will chime in.



    8 Replies
    1. re: Jim Leff

      Rene G,

      didn't you do a long write-up of fried fish places on chi.eats? Folks may want to search there for it. Also VI which Joe's are you talking about - not the rib joint on north is it?

      1. re: zim

        A couple of other fried shrimp places i've passed and been intrigues by but haven't tried. Western Shrimp house: on western maybe around taylor, and a shrimp place on goose island on division. has anyone been to either of these places? I hadn't really identified the shrimp shack as a chicago culinary phenomenon but maybe we're onto something.

        1. re: Seth Zurer

          This won't be that helpful, but there used to be a place on Ashland--and I can't believe that I don't remember the name--between Cermak and the expressway. In the classic Chicago mold, it had all of the fried things from the sea one could imagine (although I don't remember smoked), and was located on the grimy banks of some south branch of the river.

          I first went with my father, as a child, and think I remember my Granny saying that she and my Grandfather went there on a couple dates (evidently he was about as romantic as me) so that would fulfill the historical angle (that would be circa 1938-39). In about 1994, I used to kick it over there for lunch when I had a summer job at the the Bureau of Electricity up the street at 26th and Ashland--it was one of the best close things in the neighborhood, which is really like an industrial park. I would usually get a 1/2 pound of shrimp, a 1/2 pound of oysters, a 1/2 pound of perch, and cole slaw, or something like that. It was good, better than lawrence's, which is really the only other place of this type that I went to.

          I don't know if it is quite a Chicago concept, but there is nothing of the sort in NYC, typically. I have no idea if the place is still there, but it might be worth a trip--perhaps on the way out to Little Village.

          1. re: andy o'neill

            If it just west of the expressway from chinatown, I think that is lawrence fisheries-look at Rene's post on this thread.

            1. re: andy o'neill

              Very interesting, that’s a new one to me. If anyone knows the name or whether it’s still in existence I’d love to hear about it. I’ll bet there are still several more of these old fried fish shacks that I never heard of.

              I’m not too surprised to hear it was better than Lawrence’s. The several things I had at Lawrence’s were good, not great. The shrimp was the best of the lot though.

              While looking up the address of Goose Island Shrimp House the other day, I stumbled on an interesting list of fish stores (link follows, if anyone is interested). I don’t see any place on Ashland listed but that probably doesn’t mean anything. More discouraging, I didn’t see it during a quick trip down Ashland (definitely could have missed it though). There seems to be a fair bit of new construction along the South Fork of the South Branch of the Chicago River so it may very well have been torn down.

              Back to that list of fish stores. One place that caught my eye was Delta Fish & Blues on the West Side (228 S Kedzie). I think this is the place I’ve been trying to remember for years. My memory is extremely hazy on this but I believe it’s pretty much what it sounds like: fried fish and music in thoroughly ungentrified surroundings. Driving by the other day I didn’t see a trace of it. The phone book says they have relocated to 8230 S Laflin. If you’re feeling adventurous it could be very interesting.


              1. re: andy o'neill
                Julie Sherman

                The shrimp house someone mentioned on Ashland near Cermak is probably the one just north of Cermak on Canal, which is east of Ashland. It's been there for 40 years or so and juts up against the south branch of the river.

                I have a tirade against the Goose Island Shrimp House on Division (between Halsted and Elston). I am a bicyclist and frequently take my bike into places with me if there is no secure parking nearby. I don't mean really nice places, but some takeout places, banks, Home Depot,etc. Most places are cool with it. If not, as I'm leaving they'll say there's bike parking over there or could you please not bring the bike in again. I'm fine with that. But, at the Goose Island Shrimp House, there is NO place to lock a bike. It's a dump anyway, so I rolled it in with me and parked it against the wall out of the way. The place was half empty and from the look of it, my bike was cleaner than their floors. After placing my order and stepping back, one of the surly counter boys yelled out "Whose bike is that? Take it out". I replied I had no place safe to lock it and would be out of there as soon as my order was ready. The guy was mean and told me to get it out NOW! There was really no reason to be so nasty. It was not crowded, there is no seating in there and it's a dirty dive anyway, what was the deal? I cancelled my order and will not go back. A friend had been there the week before and confirmed that the counter help was surly. Until they improve their customer relations, there is no reason to give my money to people who refuse to accomodate my needs or to be a little tolerant of my situation.

            2. re: zim

              I think you’re referring to my post on smoked fish, in which I talked a little about fried shrimp. So here’s one on fried shrimp, with a little bit about smoked fish.

              Although certainly not unique to the city, the shrimp and fish shack is (or was) very much a Chicago tradition. These places, often with very late hours, located on the banks of the river, and called Fisheries, were once numerous but are quickly disappearing. I don’t know the history but I assume their location on the river was to allow easy delivery of fish, important in the days before frozen food, interstate highways, and cheap air freight.

              Not long ago we lost one of the great ones, Joe’s Fisheries on Cortland.

              There are at least three riverside fish houses left: Goose Island Shrimp House, Lawrence’s Fisheries, and Calumet Fisheries. All are very old businesses.

              I still haven’t been to Goose Island Shrimp House but reportedly it is one of the best. I’ve been meaning to try it for a long time and decided to stop by yesterday. It was closed. I was afraid we’d lost another but I called them today to learn it’s only for a week and they’ll be open on Monday. I’ll be there soon because it’s only a matter of time before they tear it down for the Shrimp House Condominiums.

              Lawrence’s, on the river just west of Chinatown, has been around over 50 years but has recently moved into a new building. They serve many varieties of fried fish: cod, frog legs, oysters, scallops, catfish, and shrimp. The shrimp is pretty good, with fresh almost crunchy meat and a thick but tolerable breading. It’s open all night and has a few booths in case you want to eat there. Really lousy sauces, a problem that plagues many of these places.

              Calumet Fisheries, on the banks of the Calumet River, is a real favorite of mine. Some really awesome views of abandoned steel mills and other industrial vistas. You really have to keep yourself from wondering too much about where that fish comes from. It’s really quite good though; everything is freshly breaded and carefully fried. The fried shrimp is good but they make their own smoked shrimp that is fantastic. These are seriously addictive. There’s a little smoke house outside where they make it and they also smoke salmon and trout (each chunk is threaded with a loop of twine for hanging). Take out only.

              Some other places (not on rivers) to try are Hagen’s on Montrose and the Fish Keg on Howard. Hagen’s has a pretty good selection of smoked fish but I never had the fried shrimp at either place. Another old-timer, Troha’s (4151 W 26th St; in business over 75 years), is also good but I haven’t eaten there for ages. Western Avenue Shrimp House, on the northwest corner of Taylor, looks like it could be worth a visit. Earlier this year I stopped in to grab a menu (the usual offerings) but I had just come from Damenzo’s Pizza a couple blocks away, so a sack of shrimp was out of the question.

              Goose Island Shrimp House
              1011 W Division St
              10am-4am, to 6am weekends

              Lawrence's Fisheries
              2120 S Canal St
              24 hr/day

              Calumet Fisheries
              3259 E 95th St
              open to 10pm (?)

              1. re: Rene G

                Rene, thanks for another great report! I am continually amazed by the depth and breadth of your knowledge about chicago chow.

          2. What a heart wrenching post!

            Try J&J's Fried Fish and Chicken on Adam between State and Wabash w/the best fried oysters in my little world's book. Fried perch are delicious, too. Their fried shrimps are huge, not huge batter, real big shrimp. Nice cajun hot sauce.....If I weren't in NYC, I'd be there.

            1. v
              Vital Information

              Sorry about the name guys. The place is Joe's Fisheries. It is on Courtland Street between Elston and Clyborn, surrounded by some steel mills (how big shoulders, huh?). Going north on clyborn, courtland is the street where solly's drive in is.

              perhaps joe's is not the best fried shrimp house. they fry in vegetable oil after all, but it will still do the roof of your mouth proud. they have a nice spicy cocktail sauce and a commercial cole slaw that i enjoy. besides the shrimp, they smoke their own fish; a 24 hour h&h on courtland would be rather platonic. finally, if you have a perpetually dieting wife like mine, joe's also steams shrimp and salmon.


              2 Replies
              1. re: Vital Information

                This place has been closed down for some time.

                1. re: saf
                  vital information

                  really...closed, the one on courtland...what a shame

              2. THE BEST, BAR NONE! is Goose Island Shrimp on Division just east of the Kennedy.

                His son, also opened a location in Rockford, IL on Rockton Ave just south of Riverside.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Sweet Willie
                  richard waller

                  i agree ..was at goose island last night..shrimps were very good,bag was right and best of all the shrimp were a tad larger than the tiny sauce container...thus retaining a tradition that must date back to the great chicago was perfect

                2. I grew up at Racine & Clybourn. Joe's Fisheries IS located on Courtland near Clybourn/Elston. I moved to California a long time ago but still often recall going to Joe's on payday for a bag of shrimp..if I recall correctly, it was on a bridge or at the base of a bridge over the Chicago river that we called the "singing bridge" as children because when my Dad drove over it the grooves in the bridge seemed to sing when our tires rolled over it. Of course, one can never go back, except in memory and my memories of Joe's Fisheries shrimp is they were absolutely the best I ever had.

                  Anyone remember the tamales at Vienna Hot Dog Stands?
                  Reubin (Rick) Gibson

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: RIKGIB

                    Joe's fisheries was one of the BEST in chicago - I grew up near Armitage & Halsted and graduated from Waller High in 1962.
                    My favorite hot dog stand was on Dickens & Halsted and loved their tamales almost as much as the dogs & fries.
                    Moved to Knoxville TN area a couple of years ago and really miss the Chicago food. They don't even try to offer it here - no dogs, Italian Beef sandwiches, Chicago style pizza, smoked fish. They have everything smoked except for Fish and Shrimp.
                    Wish I could go back in time for a few days and eat at all my favorite places.

                    1. re: RIKGIB

                      Has anyone been to this place in 2014? Are they still open? Visiting Chicago from Florida in August 2014 and dying to get some fish at this place where I went as a boy.
                      I used to live on Clybourn near Sheffield. Went to St. Teresa's and Lane Tech.

                      Bob Geltner

                      1. re: geltner

                        Unfortunately, they've been closed for years. Last time I was in Chicago was in 2008 and they were long gone. I did find a VERY good smokehouse in Knife River, MN and they ship during the winter months. I ordered their smoke fish (Ciscoes) back in March 2011 and was extremely happy. At that time their phone was 218/834-5995. Good luck and let me know if you find something else.

                        1. re: cecilia moore

                          My family owned joes fisheries. . We sold it in the late nineties. .. it was started by my grandfather originally on navy pier

                          1. re: brandan

                            WOW - you must be very proud - sooooooo many former customers remember Joe's Fisheries and loved it. Joe's had awesome SMOKED jumbo shrimp which I cannot find anywhere. Their fried fish chips and shrimp was out-of-this-world as was the smoked chubs. And on and on and on. Just a great place. I just wish you wanted to carry on the seafood business like your gramps so everyone could really enjoy what a good fish house can provide. Thanks for sharing your heritage.