The Best Seafood Restaurants in Chicago: A Culinary Journey [2023]

RPM Seafood

Chicago, the vibrant city on the shores of Lake Michigan, is a seafood lover’s paradise.

With its rich culinary scene and access to fresh ingredients, it comes as no surprise that the Windy City boasts some of the finest seafood restaurants in the country.

Whether you’re a solo traveler seeking a memorable dining experience or a local looking to explore new flavors, this guide will take you on a delightful journey through the best seafood restaurants that Chicago has to offer.

From traditional raw bars to fusion seafood joints, we’ve curated a list of must-visit establishments that will satisfy your cravings for delectable dishes from the deep blue sea. Are you ready to find out the Best Seafood restaurant in Chicago?

Read also: 10 Hidden Gems in Chicago That Solo Travelers Will Love

Best Seafood Restaurants in Chicago


1. RPM Seafood: A Sophisticated Seafood Haven

 Seafood Restaurants

Located on the scenic Chicago Riverwalk, RPM Seafood is an upscale restaurant that combines stunning waterfront views with an exquisite dining experience.

As you step into this elegant establishment, prepare yourself for a sensory journey filled with flavors and aromas that will leave you wanting more.

Oysters Rockefeller: The Epitome of Indulgence

Start your culinary adventure at RPM Seafood with their legendary Oysters Rockefeller.

These plump and briny oysters are topped with a rich blend of spinach, herbs, and velvety hollandaise sauce before being baked to perfection.

Each bite is a harmonious mix of creamy textures and savory goodness that will delight your taste buds.

Related: Find out the Best Italian Restaurants in Chicago

Grilled Branzino: A Mediterranean Delight

For those craving something light yet flavorful, indulge in RPM Seafood’s grilled branzino.

This delicate white fish is expertly seasoned and cooked to retain its natural tenderness while infusing it with smoky undertones.

Served alongside seasonal vegetables and accompanied by zesty lemon aioli, this dish showcases the restaurant’s commitment to quality ingredients and impeccable technique.

Lobster Risotto: A Creamy Culinary Dream

No visit to RPM Seafood would be complete without trying their acclaimed Lobster Risotto.

This decadent dish features succulent lobster meat, perfectly cooked and folded into a creamy, rich risotto.

The risotto itself is a masterpiece, simmered slowly and stirred constantly to achieve a velvety texture that’s bursting with flavor.

The lobster adds a luxurious touch, its sweet and tender meat complementing the richness of the risotto. One taste, and you’ll understand why it’s a fan favorite.

Key Lime Pie: A Tangy Conclusion

After indulging in such lavish seafood dishes, cleanse your palate with RPM Seafood’s refreshing Key Lime Pie.

This dessert strikes the perfect balance between the tartness of key limes and the sweetness of the graham cracker crust.

Topped with a swirl of whipped cream, it’s the ideal way to conclude your gastronomic journey with a hint of zest.

As you can see, RPM Seafood is more than a seafood restaurant, it’s an experience that transports you into a world of delectable tastes and flavors.

This is a must-visit for every seafood lover visiting Chicago.

Remember to reserve your table in advance to avoid disappointment!

2. Portsmouth: An Ode to New England Charm

Nestled in the heart of Chicago’s West Town neighborhood, Portsmouth is a cozy seafood spot that pays homage to the flavors of New England.

With its rustic ambiance, friendly service, and mouthwatering dishes, this gem captures the essence of a coastal dining experience.

Raw Bar: A Seafood Lover’s Dream

Embark on a culinary voyage at Portsmouth’s raw bar, where you’ll find an impressive selection of pristine oysters, clams, and other delicacies from the sea.

Savor each raw morsel as it takes you on a sensory journey with its briny sweetness and delicate texture.

Pair your favorite bivalves with a chilled glass of white wine or a classic cocktail for the ultimate indulgence.

Fusion Delights: Where East Meets West

While Portsmouth specializes in New England classics, they also offer innovative fusion dishes that infuse global flavors into their seafood creations.

Step out of your comfort zone and try their lobster rolls with a twist – think Korean-inspired gochujang mayo or Thai basil-infused butter.

These bold combinations will tantalize your taste buds and leave you craving more.

Cozy Desserts: A Sweet Farewell

After indulging in Portsmouth’s seafood offerings, don’t forget to explore their dessert menu, which is as innovative as it is delicious.

The sweet course at Portsmouth is a New England-inspired collection of comforting delights.

The star of the show is their signature Apple Cider Donut Sundae.

Imagine warm, freshly baked apple cider donuts paired with creamy vanilla ice cream, drizzled with salted caramel, and finished with a sprinkling of crunchy pecans.

For those who prefer a less indulgent sweet treat, Portsmouth’s citrus sorbet, infused with a hint of fresh mint, offers a refreshing conclusion to a gastronomic journey.

The Verdict

From the raw bar to fusion delights, and finally, the sweet comforting desserts, Portsmouth offers a dining experience that’s bursting with flavors and charm.

It’s more than just a seafood restaurant; it’s a tribute to New England’s rich culinary heritage.

Whether you are a seafood aficionado or a curious foodie, Portsmouth is a must-visit when in Chicago.

Remember, it’s always best to make a reservation to secure your spot!

3. Calumet Fisheries: A Hidden Gem by the River

Tucked away on the banks of the Calumet River, Calumet Fisheries is an unassuming seafood shack that has been serving up delectable delights since 1948.

This no-frills eatery is revered by locals for its fresh catches and flavorful fried fish.

Fried Fish: A Crispy Delight

Sink your teeth into Calumet Fisheries’ famous fried fish – golden-brown fillets encased in a light and crispy batter. The secret to their irresistible crunch lies in their time-honored cooking techniques and high-quality ingredients.

Whether you prefer catfish, perch, or smelt, each bite will transport you to seaside boardwalks where the aroma of freshly fried fish fills the air.

A Taste of Tradition: Smoked Fish

Calumet Fisheries is also renowned for its smoked fish, which is prepared using their signature blend of hardwood.

The result is a symphony of flavors that elevates humble catches like salmon and trout to new heights.

Savor the smoky richness as it melts in your mouth, and pair it with a side of tangy horseradish sauce to enhance the experience.

Chicago’s Best Kept Secret: Seafood Pizza at Phil’s Pizzeria

One might not immediately think of pizza when considering seafood, but at Phil’s Pizzeria, the two come together to create a truly memorable dining experience.

Their unique seafood pizza, topped with fresh shrimp, calamari, and scallops, has been hailed as an unexpected masterpiece.

The contrast between the warm, cheesy pizza and the cool, fresh seafood is sublime, making Phil’s Pizzeria a must-visit for any seafood lover in Chicago.

Fresh Oysters at Pearl’s Place

For those who prefer their seafood served on the half shell, Pearl’s Place offers a range of high-quality fresh oysters.

Each oyster is carefully selected and prepared to ensure the perfect balance of brininess and sweetness.

Paired with a glass of crisp white wine, it’s a dining experience you won’t soon forget.

4. Half Shell: Where Classic Meets Contemporary

Nestled in the lively neighborhood of Lincoln Park, Half Shell is a seafood institution that has been delighting diners since 1968.

This family-owned restaurant seamlessly blends old-school charm with contemporary culinary techniques to create an unforgettable dining experience.

Oysters on the Half Shell: A Fresh Sea Symphony

No visit to Half Shell is complete without indulging in their oysters on the half shell – a celebration of Chicago’s bountiful seafood offerings.

These briny treasures are served chilled, allowing you to fully appreciate their natural flavors and delicate texture.

Pair them with a crisp glass of champagne or a craft beer for an exquisite combination that will transport you to coastal bliss.

Seafood Extravaganza: Surf and Turf Delights

Half Shell goes beyond oysters, offering an array of seafood dishes that will satisfy even the most discerning palates.

Dive into their surf and turf specials, where succulent lobster tails meet perfectly grilled steaks for a match made in culinary heaven.

Each bite showcases the restaurant’s commitment to quality ingredients and expert execution.

5. Sushisamba: Fusion Flavors from East to West

Prepare your taste buds for an explosion of flavors at Sushisamba, where Japanese, Brazilian, and Peruvian cuisines converge in perfect harmony.

Located in River North, this vibrant eatery takes sushi lovers on an extraordinary journey through innovative creations and bold combinations.

Sushi Rolls: Works of Art on a Plate

At Sushisamba, sushi rolls are transformed into culinary masterpieces that delight both the eyes and the palate.

Try their signature Samba Rolls, featuring a medley of fresh seafood, vibrant vegetables, and tangy sauces.

The combination of textures and flavors will take your taste buds on an adventure that bridges continents.

A Fusion Feast: Beyond Sushi

Sushisamba’s menu extends beyond sushi, offering a wide range of fusion dishes that showcase the best of Japanese, Brazilian, and Peruvian cuisines.

Indulge in their tiraditos – thinly sliced raw fish dressed with zesty citrus marinades. Or savor their ceviches – a refreshing blend of seafood marinated in tangy juices.

Each bite embodies the restaurant’s commitment to creative culinary exploration.

6. Shaw’s Crab House: A Seafood Institution

Dive into the deep, rich flavors of the ocean at Shaw’s Crab House, a Chicago institution renowned for its premium seafood selections.

Here, the raw bar reigns supreme, offering an assortment of fresh oysters, clams, and shrimp.

The crab, as you might expect, is the star of the show. Whether you opt for the Alaskan King Crab Legs or the Maryland-style Crab Cakes, prepare to be impressed by the quality and flavor of their seafood.

The ambiance is warm and inviting, with a touch of vintage charm, making it ideal for both casual outings and special occasions.

As you savor the exquisite seafood offerings at Shaw’s Crab House, you’ll quickly understand why it has remained a favorite among locals and tourists alike.

7. Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab: Seafood Meets Elegance

At Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab, you are guaranteed a dining experience like no other.

Famous for its mouthwatering crab dishes, Joe’s brings the fresh flavors of Florida stone crabs directly to the Windy City.

The signature dish – chilled stone crab claws – is not to be missed, served with a decadent, mustard-based sauce that perfectly complements the sweet, succulent crab meat.

But it’s not just about crab here; the prime steak selections are equally tantalizing, cooked to perfection and providing a great alternative for those wishing to venture beyond seafood.

The elegant, upscale decor of Joe’s creates an ideal setting for a romantic dinner or a special celebration.

Every visit to Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab is certainly a delightful journey through culinary excellence.

8. Hugo’s Frog Bar & Fish House: A Taste of the Sea in the Heart of the City

Hugo’s Frog Bar & Fish House serves up some of the most delectable seafood dishes in Chicago, making it a must-visit destination for any food enthusiast.

The menu perfectly captures the essence of sea-to-table dining, featuring a diverse range of seafood options guaranteed to delight your taste buds.

The Dover Sole and the Lobster Tail are among the standout dishes, but it’s their famous frog legs that truly set Hugo’s apart.

Cooked to perfection and bursting with flavor, this dish proves why Hugo’s has garnered such a loyal following.

But don’t be fooled by the name—Hugo’s also serves a selection of top-notch steaks, making it a perfect spot for both seafood and meat lovers.

The restaurant’s elegant yet cozy atmosphere, coupled with its stellar service, ensures an unforgettable dining experience.

When you dine at Hugo’s Frog Bar & Fish House, you’re not just having a meal, you’re embarking on a culinary adventure.

9. GT Fish & Oyster: Unleashing Seafood Extravaganza in an Inviting Ambiance

GT Fish & Oyster has carved a niche for itself in Chicago’s dining scene, marrying culinary artistry with an invigorating splash of ocean-inspired cuisine.

From the blissful briny taste of the oysters to the rich, indulgent Lobster Mac and Cheese, each dish on the menu is a testament to the chef’s dedication to delivering a seafood feast par excellence.

The GT Fish & Oyster Tower is a sight to behold, a veritable cornucopia of the sea’s bounty, layered with fresh oysters, king crab legs, lobster tail, and shrimp cocktail.

But the restaurant isn’t tethered to the sea: the braised beef short rib is a carnivore’s delight, tender and full of flavor.

The ambiance is as carefully curated as the menu, with nautical nods throughout the decor that exude a chic, yet welcoming atmosphere.

Coupled with an impressive wine list and an array of artisanal cocktails, GT Fish & Oyster provides not just a meal, but a sensory journey that transports you right to the heart of the ocean.

10. Balena Fish House: A Symphony of Flavors in a Warm, Rustic Setting

The joy of dining at Balena Fish House lies not just in the exceptional seafood it offers, but also in the wholehearted, rustic charm it exudes.

Renowned for its fresh catches and innovative flavor combinations, Balena has anchored itself as a premium destination for seafood enthusiasts.

The menu, resplendent with the freshest selections from the sea, shines a spotlight on sustainable, locally sourced seafood.

The signature Balena Seafood Platter is a tour-de-force, featuring an array of meticulously prepared oceanic delights.

But Balena doesn’t stop at seafood; its well-curated menu also includes succulent steaks and robust vegetarian options.

The warm wooden interiors and ambient lighting set the stage for an inviting, relaxed dining experience, perfectly complemented by their extensive offering of fine wines and refreshing cocktails.

Omakase Yume: An Authentic, Intimate Sushi Experience

Tucked away in the heart of Chicago, Omakase Yume offers a mesmerizing sushi experience that is both traditional and innovative. This intimate eight-seat restaurant delivers a unique dining journey through the art of Omakase, where the chef presents a series of dishes that represent the freshest, most seasonal ingredients at their peak. Each sushi piece is a work of art in itself, prepared with an unrivaled level of precision, skill, and passion. The minimalist decor and calming atmosphere make room for the food to take center stage, allowing the vibrant colors and exquisite flavors of the sushi to truly shine. Omakase Yume is more than a meal—it’s an unforgettable dive into the rich tapestry of sushi artistry.

The Purple Pig: A Gastronomic Adventure in Mediterranean Cuisine

Located in the bustling center of Chicago, The Purple Pig takes its guests on an extraordinary culinary journey through the Mediterranean. Known for its “cheese, swine, and wine” approach, this restaurant offers a dazzling array of dishes that pay homage to the rich flavors and rustic charm of Mediterranean cuisine. From their infamous ‘Smears’ to the succulent Porchetta, each dish is a testament to inventive culinary craft. The laid-back, communal dining atmosphere makes it an ideal spot for food lovers seeking a convivial dining experience.

Offshore: The World’s Largest Rooftop Bar

Perched atop Navy Pier, Offshore is the world’s largest rooftop bar and an absolute must-visit in Chicago. Offering sweeping views of the city skyline and Lake Michigan, Offshore boasts a chic, modern atmosphere perfect for both intimate gatherings and grand celebrations. The menu is a culinary delight, featuring contemporary American cuisine with a creative twist. Paired with a world-class mixology program and a carefully curated list of wines, your experience at Offshore is sure to be nothing short of spectacular. With its stunning vistas, exceptional food and drink, and vibrant atmosphere, Offshore truly offers an elevated rooftop experience like no other.

Seabar: A Journey Through Seafood Delights

Located in the heart of the city, Seabar immerses you in the wonders of the ocean through its innovative cuisine. As an esteemed establishment in Chicago’s Fulton Market district, Seabar offers a vast selection of seafood, sourced daily to ensure the freshest quality. From the classic clam chowder to the exotic sea urchin pasta, each dish reflects the restaurant’s commitment to showcasing seafood at its finest. The contemporary setting, complete with nautical-themed decor, enhances the feeling of a coastal getaway amidst the urban landscape.

Fulton Market Fish Market: The Heartbeat of Chicago’s Seafood Scene

Fulton Market Fish Market stands as a testament to Chicago’s rich culinary heritage. Situated in the historic Fulton Market district, this bustling fish market offers a spectacular array of fresh seafood, drawing both locals and food enthusiasts alike. It is not just a market but a vibrant community of seafood lovers, chefs, and culinary adventurers. Whether you’re seeking the catch of the day for a home-cooked meal or simply wish to immerse yourself in the lively atmosphere, Fulton Market Fish Market is a destination that captures the essence of Chicago’s love for fresh, high-quality produce.

Orso: Indulge in Italian Flavours in the Heart of Chicago

Nestled within Chicago’s bustling downtown, Orso presents a culinary journey that takes you straight to the heart of Italy. Renowned for its authentic Italian dishes, Orso’s menu is a carefully curated blend of traditional recipes and modern gastronomy. From the fresh, handmade pasta to the wood-fired pizzas topped with the finest ingredients, each dish exudes the flavors and passion of Italian cuisine. The warm, rustic décor and the aroma of fresh herbs and spices create an ambiance that transports you to the idyllic countryside of Italy. Whether you’re craving a comforting bowl of spaghetti carbonara or a crisp, tangy bruschetta, Orso promises an unforgettable dining experience filled with the rich and diverse flavors of Italy.

RPM Italian: Chic, Urban Dining in the Windy City

At RPM Italian, the vibrant Chicago nightlife meets the classic charm of Italian dining. Located in the city’s famed River North neighborhood, RPM Italian gives a modern twist to traditional Italian cuisine. The menu, designed by celebrity power couple Giuliana and Bill Rancic, features a mix of time-honored dishes and innovative creations. The fine quality of the handmade pastas, prime steaks, and fresh seafood are testament to the restaurant’s commitment to using only the best ingredients. Beyond the food, the sleek, contemporary design of the restaurant, paired with its lively bar, offers a dining experience that is as visually stimulating as it is palate pleasing. Whether you’re savoring a classic tiramisu under the soft glow of the overhead chandeliers or enjoying a signature Spritz at the bustling bar, a visit to RPM Italian is a must when in Chicago.

Portillo’s: A Chicago Classic

For an authentic taste of Chicago, a stop at Portillo’s is absolutely essential. Started as a humble hot dog stand in 1963, Portillo’s has grown into a beloved institution, known for its legendary Chicago-style hot dogs, Italian beef sandwiches, and famous chocolate cake. The hot dogs, nestled in a poppy seed bun and loaded with a plethora of toppings, are a flavor explosion that embodies the spirit of the city. And let’s not forget their Italian beef, thinly sliced, juicy, and piled high on a fresh roll – it’s a hearty sandwich that will leave you craving more. The fast-paced, retro diner setting adds to the charm, evoking a sense of nostalgia while still being undeniably Chicago. Venturing into the world of Portillo’s is more than just a meal, it’s an experience deeply rooted in the heart and history of the Windy City.

Mimmo’s Ristorante: An Italian Experience Worth Savoring

When in search of a truly authentic Italian dining experience in Chicago, look no further than Mimmo’s Ristorante. This hidden gem, nestled in the heart of the city, is renowned for its traditional Italian fare, expertly crafted by Chef Mimmo himself. The menu is a delightful blend of classic and contemporary dishes, each radiating the warmth of Italian hospitality. Indulge in their famous lasagna, layered with flavorsome meat sauce, creamy bechamel, and a generous sprinkle of Parmigiano-Reggiano. Or, if you’re in a mood for seafood, don’t miss their Linguine allo Scoglio, a hearty dish brimming with fresh clams, mussels, shrimp, and calamari. The cozy, rustic interiors, paired with an impressive wine list, further enhance the dining experience, making Mimmo’s a perfect spot for a romantic date or a hearty family dinner. Just like a trip to Italy, a meal at Mimmo’s is something to be savored and remembered.

Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria: A Slice of Chicago’s Finest

No culinary journey in Chicago would be complete without a stop at Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria, the famous home of Chicago’s best deep-dish pizza. Known for its rich buttery crust that’s perfectly crisp on the outside yet soft and chewy on the inside, Lou Malnati’s has truly mastered the art of the deep-dish. The pizzeria uses only the freshest ingredients, including vine-ripened tomatoes for their tangy sauce, and layers of the finest mozzarella. But, it’s their secret recipe sausage blend that makes their pizza a standout. Whether you choose the classic “Malnati Chicago Classic” or opt for one of their creative combos, each bite is a testament to why Lou Malnati’s has been a beloved institution since 1971. With its friendly atmosphere, superb service, and truly exceptional pizza, Lou Malnati’s is more than just a pizzeria; it’s an essential Chicago experience.

Giordano’s Pizzeria: Indulgence Redefined

Few experiences in Chicago can rival the joy of biting into a slice of Giordano’s legendary stuffed pizza. Since 1974, Giordano’s has remained an indisputable authority in the world of Chicago-style pizza, with its famed double-crust that encases a generous helping of cheese and fillings. Their pie is not just a meal – it’s an event, it’s a monument to the depth of flavour and texture that can be achieved in a pizza. While the classic cheese and tomato pizza is a delight in itself, adventurous foodies may want to try their specialty pies like the “Super Veggie” or “Chicago Classic”. The pizzeria’s warm, inviting ambiance, coupled with its friendly staff, makes for a memorable dining experience. Whether you’re a local or a tourist, a visit to Giordano’s is an absolute must for an authentic taste of Chicago’s pizza scene. Remember, patience is key here as these handcrafted pizzas take a little longer to bake, but they are absolutely worth the wait!

Spacca Napoli: A Slice of Naples in the Heart of Chicago

Immerse yourself in a truly authentic Neapolitan pizza experience at Spacca Napoli.

Opened in 2006, this gem in Chicago’s Ravenswood neighborhood has been delivering a slice of Naples to its patrons with its unparalleled wood-fired pizzas.

The secret lies in the restaurant’s unwavering commitment to traditional Italian ingredients and methods.

The dough is soft and airy, while the San Marzano tomatoes offer a zesty freshness.

Add to that the creamy fior di latte mozzarella and a drizzle of olive oil, and you’ve got yourself a pizza that’s nothing short of perfection.

From the classic Margherita to the unique and tantalizing toppings of the Salsiccia e Broccoletti, each pizza tells a story of Naples’ rich culinary heritage.

But the experience at Spacca Napoli extends beyond pizza. With a vibrant, welcoming atmosphere, you’ll feel like you’re dining in a friend’s home in Italy rather than in a bustling Chicago neighborhood.

If you’re seeking an Italian pizza experience without the transatlantic flight, a visit to Spacca Napoli is simply a must!

Conclusion: Dive into Chicago’s Seafood Delights

From RPM Seafood’s elegant waterfront dining to Portsmouth’s cozy New England charm, Calumet Fisheries’ no-frills shack by the river to Half Shell’s timeless classics with a contemporary twist, and Sushisamba’s fusion flavors from East to West – Chicago’s seafood restaurants offer an abundance of delights waiting to be discovered.

With its thriving culinary scene and access to fresh catches from Lake Michigan and beyond, the Windy City is truly a haven for seafood lovers.

So grab your appetite and embark on a culinary adventure as you explore the best seafood restaurants that Chicago has to offer.



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