Best Seafood/Crab for an East Coaster
This is my first time posting here as I've just joined, and I have been having a great time poring over the past entries. I've been attempting to figure out something for Valentine's Day. My boyfriend and I aren't huge v-day celebrators, but I would like to go out for a nice dinner, and it doesn't have to be fancy -- we clean up pretty well, but we don't need fancy. Of course I'm doing this last minute, and I realize that wherever I go I'll have to have reservations and that's fine. Finally, we've decided on getting seafood, and now I'm attempting to find the best place to get GREAT seafood in Chicago. My boy is from NYC, so it has to be good...as fresh as possible and in his words, "I just want to go someplace and get some great crab."
So, Chowhounds, can you help me out? I know about Shaws and Joe's, and am not averse to going there, but I'd like to get some general feelings about the different places. Just as a sidenote, eclectic places that have Hawaiian, Asian, etc., influences are not going to fly; he doesn’t want anything super fancy…just crab legs with meat included. :)
p.s. we live in the edgewater area, so northern places are not only appreciated, but also encouraged; however, not to the detriment of the meal...we are willing to travel most anywhere.
Welcome to Chowhound!
Before I describe seafood here, I ought to note that Valentine's Day may not be the best time to try ANY restaurant. Places often have "special" menus (with "special" higher prices) and are crowded. Anyway, onward...
There are lots of excellent seafood places in the Chicago area (and I use the term "seafood" here to refer to flat filet type fish as well as shellfish).
The first thing to note is that there is a lot of excellent seafood at places that don't specialize in seafood. Any good fine dining restaurant has seafood items on the menu, and usually, the better the restaurant, the better the seafood. Thus, you can find outstanding seafood at top places in the upper tier (Everest, Avenues, etc) as well as the more casual tier (One Sixty Blue, Blackbird). Many steakhouses also have excellent seafood; within the past few weeks, I had a wonderful sauteed skate at Pete Miller's and superb grilled sea scallops at the Black Ram in Des Plaines.
HOWEVER, I will assume that you are specifically looking for restaurants that SPECIALIZE in seafood, rather than those other restaurants that offer excellent food, some of which happens to be seafood.
Since you're in Edgewater, your general choices are to go north into the nearby suburbs, or south into the city.
In the near northern suburbs, Oceanique in Evanston is IMHO the best seafood restaurant in the entire Chicago area. It's more of a fine dining place that specializes in seafood - semi-casual atmosphere but the food is as good as places like One Sixty Blue (which is high praise indeed). And don't overlook their soups or desserts, both of which are as wonderful as their seafood. The only downside is that if you're looking specifically for crab, they don't always have it.
I've also been greatly impressed with the seafood at Mitchell's Fish Market in Glenview, which has been excellent every time I've been there. Other seafood restaurants in the near northern suburbs include Don's Fishmarket in Skokie and Davis Street Fishmarket in Evanston, both of which are good but not in the Oceanique/Mitchell's pantheon, and Bob Chinn's in Wheeling, whose seafood is fresh but whose preparations I find generally less appealing (particularly due to overuse of garlic). If you're ever in the western suburbs, Parker's Ocean Grill in Downers Grove is also excellent.
In the city, Shaw's and Joe's, which you already mentioned, are good choices. So is Hugo's Frog Bar, which is next door to (and owned by) Gibson's. I've heard raves for Fulton's on the River, particularly for their oysters, but I have not yet been there.
505 Main Street
Mitchell's Fish Market
2601 Navy Boulevard
Glenview, IL 60026
9335 Skokie Blvd.
Skokie, IL 60077
Davis Street Fishmarket
501 Davis Street
Bob Chinn's Crab House
393 S. Milwaukee Ave.
847-THE-CRAB or 847-520-3633
Parker's Ocean Grill
1000 31st St
Downers Grove, IL 60515
Shaw's Crab House
21 E Hubbard Street
Chicago, Illinois 60611
(also in Schaumburg)
Joe's Seafood Prime Steak and Stone Crab
60 East Grand
Chicago, IL 60611
Hugo's Frog Bar
1024 Rush St.
(also in Naperville)
Fulton's on the River
315 N. LaSalle Street
Chicago, Illinois 60610
Awesome. Thank you SO much for all of your suggestions. I really wasn't expecting such a huge response, and I can't tell you how much I appreciate you sitting down and doing this.
Seriously, thank you. I think we're leaning toward Don's Fishmarket right now as we're broke college students; however, just because we don't want to break the bank doesn't mean we won't try and find the best we can. :) Thanks!
If price is a factor, then I think Don's, Davis St., and Bob Chinn's are significantly less in price than the others. Also, Don's and Davis Street both run specials like "Lobsterfest", "Mardi Gras", etc, with special deals on certain items. Check their websites for current promotions.
As an East Coast transplant into the Chicago area, I'll say I enjoy Bob Chinn's the best, the Wheeling location, at least. I've heard mixed things about the one in Chicago, but the one up in the 'burbs is very good. It's not a fine dinning type place, meaning, expect plain brown tables and paper napkins, but the food is superb and as fresh as you can get it out here.
I've also enjoyed Nick's Fishmarket in Chicago itself, but that's a very different class of restaurant. Can't say the seafood was any better, but this is more of a sit down, quiet, fine restaurant, if that's what you'd prefer.
Personally, I'd go with Bob Chinn's - and thats from someone who grew up on East Coast seafood!
If you haven't yet made your decison, you might want to look at Glenn's Diner on Montrose. As I understand, Glenn used to run (or manage or something) Davis Street in Evanston. It's a wonderful neighborhood restaurant, excellent seafood, choices are from chalkboards so things change but they seem to always have crab legs (I think they might do a crab special, you might check). It used to be BYO but they now serve liquor, with a small wine list, I'm sure you can bring your own if you'd like. Prices are very good and the food is wonderful, very fresh. I actually think Glenn's has an east coast seafood feel to it, it's very cozy. Have a wonderful Valentine's Day!
I can't speak for New Yorkers, but when a Marylander says he wants to "go out and get some crab" he definitely isn't talking about Alaskan crab legs, all-you-can-eat or otherwise. A mess of blue crabs should come with a hammer and a bucket and be served on a newspaper-covered table. Is there a place in Chicago that does that?
Yup. I don't think there is anyplace here that does that on a regular basis. That's really more of a regional thing you find along the coast. You're not likely to find crabs served Maryland-style in Chicago, for the same reason you're not likely to find good Chicago-style pizza in Maryland. :)