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Quality Crab and Oyster Bah
Photograph: Courtesy Quality Crab and Oyster Bah

The best seafood restaurants in Chicago

For crab, shrimp or lobster, check out our complete guide to the best seafood restaurants in Chicago

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Written by
Morgan Olsen
&
Samantha Nelson
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Thanks to a primo location in the middle of the country, the best seafood restaurants in Chicago boast something for every taste (and budget). From pricey treats flown in from the coasts—like raw oysters and stone crab claws—to perch and cod fresh from Lake Michigan served crispy fried for a casual and comforting supper, these aquatic treasures are prepared daily by some of the best chefs in the biz. You can opt for some of the best sushi in Chicago or have your fish served in one of the best tacos in Chicago. No matter what type of clam or swordfish you're searching for, these seafood restaurants show that Chicago really deserves to be called the Third Coast.

RECOMMENDED: The all-time best Chicago restaurants

Best seafood restaurants in Chicago

  • Restaurants
  • Seafood
  • River North
  • price 3 of 4

Our go-to spot for seafood, Shaw's Crab House is a Chicago classic. Choose from two seating experiences: the traditional white-tablecloth–equipped dining room or the lively oyster bar, where you'll find us sucking down bivalves, cracking open crab claws and dunking lobster tails in butter. The menu also includes a terrific lobster roll, bound up with the barest hint of mayo, and sushi and sashimi. Pair your seafood feast with a local beer or a classic martini, which goes perfectly with oysters.

  • Restaurants
  • Seafood
  • Lake View
  • price 2 of 4

An intimate, basement spot that provides a throwback to a time of unfussy cooking, mkf. allows great ingredients to shine through a less-is-more approach. Here, boquerones come with piperade and fennel slaw on a grilled baguette, and a seafood "fideos" features toasted capellini noodles and shellfish in a saffron cream. At mfk., you can take a trip to the Catalan coast without ever leaving Chicago. And it doesn't hurt that the restaurant has earned the Michelin Guide’s Bib Gourmand designation annually since it opened in East Lakeview seven years ago.

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  • Restaurants
  • Seafood
  • River North
  • price 2 of 4

Can't decide between oysters, sushi, caviar and tuna tacos? At Lure Fishbar, you don't have to, thanks to a menu that presents an ocean of seafood options. If you crave variety, shelfish platters stacked with oysters, shrimp, crab claws and clams offer a way to sample a bit of everything (as do the sushi and sashimi plates). More decisive diners can enjoy entrees such as a lobster roll or a cripsy Asian snapper for two, served with stir fried veggies. And if you're not a fan of seafood, you'll also find steaks, burgers and porkchops on the menu—though we're a little confused about why you came to a place called "Lure Fishbar."

  • Restaurants
  • Seafood
  • River North
  • price 3 of 4

You should feel like a king when you’re paying through the nose for a steakhouse experience, and you will here. Start with the sweet, cool stone crabs, the sugar prawns (Madagascar shrimp) and a delicious chopped salad that could easily feed two. Go straight to the top with the bone-in ribeye, perfect when ordered charred medium-rare, or the Alaskan king crab legs served chilled. Key lime pie is puckeringly sweet for those who like a hit-you-over-the-head finish, and the fried chicken is the best secret in town.

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  • Restaurants
  • Seafood
  • Lincoln Park
  • price 3 of 4

Don't let the goofy name fool you. Quality Crab & Oyster Bah in offers several varieties of East and West Coast oysters daily for $3.50 a pop—and you can get half a dozen for $15 until 5:30pm, Monday through Friday. If oysters aren't your jam, the menu is packed with alternatives, including sizzling garlic shrimp, miso-glazed salmon, hearty clam chowder and roasted trout with crispy sunchokes. Don't forget to check out Crab Cellar in the basement, where you can feast on all-you-can-eat Alaskan king crab legs and hamburgers.

  • Restaurants
  • Seafood
  • South Deering
  • price 1 of 4

This smoke shack was born when the steel industry was thriving and the area was populated by hungry day laborers. Set at the base of the famous Blues Brothers bridge, this little white box brings in customers from all around for smoked shrimp, trout and sable, which are always on offer. You’ll see folks sitting in their cars eating their picks out of paper bags, a quintessential part of the experience.

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  • Restaurants
  • Seafood
  • River North

Take in views of the Chicago River from the terrace or through one of the restaurant’s floor-to-ceiling windows while you dine on bone-in swordfish ribeye or charcoal-grilled black bass at the latest addition to the RPM restaurant empire. Start your meal in spectacular fashion by ordering a seafood tower featuring prawns, Maine lobster, Alaskan king crab legs and East and West Coast oysters—but save some room for the banana cream Napoleon served with sliced bananas covered in warm caramel. The drink menu emphasizes tequila and mezcal cocktails but also offers plenty of bubbly by the glass if its a festive occasion.

  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Rush & Division
  • price 3 of 4

This seafood fave not only shares the kitchen of Gibson’s Steakhouse but also the slick tie-and-blazer crowd that loves them both. The boardroom-meets-Rat-Pack decor is full of dark wood, leather booths and career servers hoisting huge trays spilling over with succulent and sweet Alaska king crab legs, giant Australian lobster tails and massive porterhouses. Old-school classics are prepared well; a few even qualify as addictive. We like the frog legs with garlic butter.

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  • Restaurants
  • Seafood
  • Loop

Popular for both business gatherings and celebratory meals, this Michigan Avenue spot serves a mix of traditional fare like Alaskan crab legs and jumbo shrimp cocktails with more novel seafood preparations like a "Surf N Turf" featuring scallops and braised short rib in gremolata and blackened snapper accompanied by corn spoon bread and jalapeno corn tartar. Visit on Wednesday to take advantage of Wine Enthusiast Night, when all bottles under $100 are half price.

  • Restaurants
  • Seafood
  • West Ridge
  • price 2 of 4

Before going to the Angry Crab, some advice: Wear clothes you don’t mind getting messy and bring lots of booze. You’ll probably have to wait for 30 minutes to an hour, but once you’ve cracked open a beer, it’s not so bad. Especially because the wait is worth it—huge, spice-encrusted crabs and tender, plump shrimp wallowing in garlic butter are must-orders. Order more than you think you need and don't be afraid to get messy.

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  • Restaurants
  • Seafood
  • Rush & Division

An elegant place for a celebration, Truluck's has an upscale dress code (no "gym attire" or hats) at its Mag Mile-adjacent location in Chicago. The menu offers traditional favorites such as jumbo shrimp cocktail and steamed king crab legs served with lemon-garlic butter plus spins on classic cocktails like the Upper Manhattan, made with butter-washed rye, maple syrup, and black walnut bitters. Visit the Stone Crab Lounge for 25% off select cocktails from 3 to 6pm Monday through Friday and live music from 5:30 to 10pm Thursday through Saturday.

  • Restaurants
  • Seafood
  • River North
  • price 2 of 4

Chef Giuseppe Tentori's menu is both traditional and modern, with crab cakes and clam chowder served alongside shrimp-studded green tea soba noodles and oyster po’ boy sliders. For a hungry group, the loaded seafood tower is an absolute must. From there, tack on entrees like the fish tacos with pork chicharron or Alaskan halibut with zucchini, black garlic and cauliflower couscous.

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  • Restaurants
  • Seafood
  • River West/West Town

Enjoy Latin takes on seafood such as octopus ceviche, lobster and cheese empanadas or grilled shrimp tacos with chipotle aioli at this bright spot along the Chicago River—not far from Goose Island. Share a pitcher of spicy mango margaritas or pomegranate sangria served in a large clay pot while checking out murals from Mexican artist Senkoe. The full menu is also available in the restaurant's rooftop space Cielo, which takes on a lounge-like feel after dark, complete with bottle service and shot trees.

Brown Bag Seafood Co.
  • Restaurants
  • Seafood
  • Loop
  • price 1 of 4

Seafood and fast food don't typically go hand in hand, but the folks at Brown Bag are trying to change that. The quick-service restaurant has eight locations throughout Chicago—from River North to Roscoe Village. Simply pick your protein (salmon, crispy cod, curry fish cakes, seared tuna, etc.) and a base (veggies, grains, salad, tacos, etc.), and you'll be on your way in no time. The fish here is deliciously fresh, whether you go with the daily catch or the grilled shrimp. And you can't beat the price: Most meals ring up well under $15.

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  • Restaurants
  • American
  • River North
  • price 1 of 4

This quick-service fish shack offers staples like beer-battered fried whitefish with fries and grilled or fried whitefish sandwiches, plus a huge selection of tacos including grilled shrimp and fried whitefish with spicy Thai sauce. If you’re bringing a friend who’s not a fish fan, BIG & little’s also has some novel burgers like the Hercules, which includes lamb gyro meat, feta cheese, and tzatziki. Complete your meal with an order of truffle fries and a caramel churro. The chain has locations in River North, Lakeview and Wicker Park, so there are plenty of ways to get your ahi tuna crunch wrap fix.

  • Restaurants
  • Seafood
  • Loop
  • price 1 of 4

New York-based Luke's opened its first Chicago location in spring 2015, and serves a solid lobster roll for $19 to $27. Four to six ounces of meat is lightly dressed with both lemon butter and mayonnaise, sprinkled with spices, then tucked into a well-buttered bun. For a real deal, order the Luke's trio, which includes half rolls of crab, lobster and shrimp for $22. And if you’re extra hungry, add on a bowl of clam chowder or lobster bisque.

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