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Sep 20, 2012 11:24 AM

Seafood markets

Are there any great seafood markets in the Chicagoland area? I've tried Burhops and wasn't impressed. I also tried Fox & Obel, and it had a bad smell. I have not found large fresh seafood markets like there are on the West and East coasts. Any suggestions? Whole Foods is about as good as it gets for me, but I would like more variety. I've also tried large Asian marts, and again, if you can smell the seafood, it probably isn't fresh. I also worry about additives to certain shellfish to retain freshness.

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  1. Two good smaller places: Dirk's and New England Seafood.
    For a larger operation than Whole Foods, try H Mart.

      1. The places mentioned in these previous topics are still around and worth checking out:

        1. Pssst ... we're not really on a coast, so don't expect to find anything remotely close to the major fish markets. We have more scattered specialty markets, primarily the ones listed below as well as The Fish Guy, but not all have everything on a given day.

          8 Replies
          1. re: ferret

            Thanks everyone for the replies, and @Ferret, that's exactly why I'm so frustrated with the seafood markets in Chicago. Nothing remotely as good as the coasts. I'll check out some of those places though.

            1. re: Tudor_rose

              Actually, the best fish markets in Chicago are every bit as good as the ones on the coasts; they may not always have quite as much of a selection, but it's as fresh as you'll find there. Often fish arrives as quickly by air as it does getting trucked to markets on the coasts. Some of the freshest seafood anywhere can be found in the middle of the country, especially in cities that are air cargo hubs, such as Memphis and Indianapolis (and, yes, Chicago). All you have to do is look at the best markets, here and elsewhere, without any preconceived notions, and you'll find extremely fresh seafood.

              1. re: nsxtasy

                Never an issue of freshness, always an issue of variety. CNBC ran a feature on Whole Foods' purchasing model and they showed a wild salmon being delivered to the Roosevelt Road Whole Foods as quick or quicker than it would get to either coast. The other local vendors (Dirk's, Fish Guy, Isaacson, etc) have sourcing on the coasts that can provide them with product about as quickly. However, it's just not possible to find a "one-stop" source that compares to anything on either coast, which is why teh OP will never find a "great seafood market" in Chicago.

                1. re: ferret

                  No wonder I love Whole Foods fish. It's always fresh and never smelly. I've tried H Mart and Fresh Farms, and people tout their fish, but it always smells and doesn't taste that fresh. I just wish WF had more variety.

                  1. re: Tudor_rose

                    Uhh...I can buy LIVE FISH from certain markets, like some Chinese/"Asian" stores in the Midwest or in Indianapolis, and have it killed and cleaned in front of me. That's fresh. Yes, limited variety, but to say that *all* fish other than in Whole Foods is not fresh is incorrect. Most of the already-dead fish I find in various open-access markets here in Indy are by-and-large fine too with the occasional dud fish. Restaurants here have "private" sources (which are not something you can just "drop by" and pick up, true) which are indeed excellent.

                    Whole Foods in your area may be excellent, but WF locations elsewhere have been noted for having horrible seafood and fish.

                    1. re: huiray

                      I don't mean to say ALL fish other than WF is not fresh, I just haven't found the freshness myself elsewhere. This is why I asked the question in the first place. While you can buy fresh live fish at H-Mart, and other places, but the other (already dead) fish, to me, leaves much to be desired. I would love to find a place that sells fresh smelling dead fish, as well as live fish and lobster. I see places like this on the coasts, but haven't in Chicago. I hope they do exist, and I plan on checking some of these sites out that others have mentioned here.

                      I will say that Burhops also sells fresh (dead) fish, but their variety is pitiful, and they don't have live fish and lobster. Their prices are also way higher than WF.

                      1. re: Tudor_rose

                        You will find that the small places mentioned above don't have much variety, and a big reason is that they support sustainable fishing. Which I think is a good thing.

                        1. re: camusman

                          True, thanks for bringing that to my attention :-)

          2. After reading all the back and forth, I would have to say that Tudor_rose's best best if Dirks or The Fish Guy. Fish Guys offers half-price specials on tuesdays on many varieties of fish and there are decent sales over the weekend on seafood.