Summertime and seafood go hand-in-hand, but Chicago is essentially landlocked (aside from Lake Michigan), typically making the area not so great of a destination for seafood lovers. At least in the past.
These days, it’s plenty easy to ship fresh seafood straight from the coasts. And whether it’s crab legs, stuffed Salmon Florentine, sushi or a po’ boy, some of my favorite meals have come from the following four spots in the Northwest suburbs. This is your public service announcement: you don’t have to go into the city to find quality faire!
Boston Fish Market started off as a fresh seafood and fish distribution center for local restaurants in the Chicagoland area. A few years ago, Louie, the owner, opened a “snack shop” for local patrons. Behind the fresh fish display and counter, chefs whip up delicious grilled or fried seafood while you wait.
In addition to their seafood, the market offers soups, salads and a daily special menu. While I typically do carryout, there is the option to dine alfresco or indoors at large communal tables. This place is pretty popular, so standard dining times are usually pretty busy. In fact, the line is always wrapped around the building. But for good reason; Louie serves big portions at extraordinary prices.
What to order: Salmon Florentine with grilled vegetables, rice and bread; or the Fried Fisherman’s Platter with French fries. Make sure to get the Louie sauce!
1225 Forest Ave., Des Plaines
This Asian fusion crab house has been an institution in Wheeling for more than 30 years. To say that Bob knows a little thing about seafood is an understatement. His lengthy menu comes from years of establishing relationships all over the world to curate a completely unique menu to Chinn’s. This Disneyland-esque restaurant corrals you through a 700 seat restaurant with Polynesian flair.
The menu pays homage to Chinn’s homeland with a variety of cooking styles including Cantonese, sushi and more. While the seafood is top-notch, three little words have me going crazy about this place: garlic butter rolls. These piping hot rolls will leave you wanting another round!
What to order: The name says it all. This place is a crab house so I highly suggest you order the King Crab Legs (ask for them scored), get the drawn butter, opt for the phenomenal salad bar, upgrade to fried rice and get yourself a Mai Tai.
393 South Milwaukee Ave., Wheeling
With a catchy slogan like “Get Hooked on Our Seafood!” it’s hard not to love this family-owned-and-operated Des Plaines mainstay. For four generations, they have been serving fresh seafood to Chicago and its surrounding suburbs. I fell in love with Don’s Dock during Mardi Gras a few years back because they simply do it right (Etouffee, anyone?).
During the few weeks left in August, you can take advantage of Lobster Fest (lobster rolls, lobster tacos, lobster bisque, lobster mac n’ cheese, the list goes on!)
What to order: Southern-style jambalaya and a fried shrimp po’ boy sandwich.
1220 E Northwest Hwy, Des Plaines
Craving sushi? Maki Sushi & Noodle Shop is nestled in uptown Park Ridge near the historical Pickwick Theater. Accompanying a vast menu spanning sushi and sashimi, they also serve up Thai dishes. Can’t choose between the Chicken Satay and a roll? Easy decision, go for both! This place is perfect for date night or girl’s night out.
What to order: In terms of sushi, the Mexican and Monkey Rolls are my favorite. The Robata Grill is a pretty cool concept and the butter sautéed scallop with soy sauce is quite tasty. If you’re in the mood for Thai, try the soft shell crab Pad Thai. Can we take a second to talk about their amazing drinks? Their martinis are on point–try the Lychee Martini, you won’t be disappointed.
12 S Northwest Hwy, Park Ridge