clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile
An open taco with a piece of fried fish.
A tempura-breaded fish taco from Forastero.
Forastero

Chicago’s Most Unique Pieces of Fried Fish

Find crispy pieces of seafood to spice up your lives

View as Map
A tempura-breaded fish taco from Forastero.
| Forastero

Why, yesm it’s the season for fried fish specials, with fast-food restaurants bombarding TV with ads featuring their annual offerings. Of course, Chicago can do better than that for Lent or just because its residents enjoy the taste of a perfectly fried piece of fish. Traditional fish and chips are great, but sometimes folks have a craving for something a little spicier. To remedy this, here are a few unique pieces of fried fish. Many of them feature international flavor and go beyond salt, vinegar, and tartar sauce.

For updated information on coronavirus cases, please visit the city of Chicago’s COVID-19 dashboard. Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; it may pose a risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial COVID transmission. The latest CDC guidance is here; find a COVID-19 vaccination site here.

Read More
Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

Crispy Town

Copy Link

Inside Seafood City, the Filipino-based pan Asian grocer, the food court features a palace of fried food called Crispy Town. There’s tons of crispy goodness to pick from, but for fish lovers the fried smelt is the go to.

Sarah Joyce/Eater Chicago

Hermosa Restaurant

Copy Link

For Lent, sandwich maestro Ethan Lim has experimented with fish cakes to give Chicago a Korean version of the McDonald’s Filet O’ Fish. Be on the lookout for when this special item is available.

Basant Modern Indian Restaurant

Copy Link

This North Center upstart serves Indian food with a modern twist. Even after the end of the colonial era, India retains a British influence, and that’s given the country a legacy of English-style fried fish, something even useful due to the Catholic population within the subcontinent. Basant is spinning the Friday fish fry with a masala chaat batter and hand-cut chips.

Wazwan features both South Asian and Filipino flavors, with the latter courtesy of chef de cuisine Chris de La Cueva. A new menu item is the inaloban, a crispy fish strew served with a light broth, vegetables, and rice noodles. This is a symphony of textures and spices with all the ingredients harmonizing for a delicious bite.

El Barco Mariscos

Copy Link

This Mexican seafood specialist serves the traditional whole red snapper fried. Many Mexican restaurant in town service this delicacy, but El Barco is among the best.

The Mukase African Restaurant

Copy Link

This North Side African restaurant has a standout seafood dish available with fried snapper: Fried Fish With Kenkey. Kenkey is a Ghanaian dish made of fermented corn and is served like a dumpling. This price dish comes with onions and tomatoes.

In-On Thai

Copy Link

This stellar North Side Thai restaurant will never disappoint. There are a few fried fish options, but it’s always a good choice to explore anything bearing the “salad” descriptor. In that case, the choice is simple and elegant crispy fish salad with lime dressing, shallot, scallion and green apple. There’s also the spicier jungle salad variant.

Hai Yen Restaurant

Copy Link

This iconic restaurant in Uptown in the Asia on Argyle area features a homestyle DIY whole fried catfish spring roll that requires two hours of advance preparation. It’s called Cá Cuốn Bánh Tráng and is rarely seen on Vietnamese restaurant menus in Chicago.

Antique Taco Bridgeport

Copy Link

There are two locations of this modern taqueria. In Wicker Park and Bridgeport, customers can find the signature fried fish taco — tempura battered cod with smoked cabbage and a spicy tartar sauce.

Forastero Restaurant

Copy Link

This Old Town fast-casual fusion restaurant blends Mexican and Korean flavors in tacos and chicken wings. One of the strongest items is the fish taco. It’s tempura fried and topped with a Korean-style aioli.

Wentworth Seafood House

Copy Link

This Chinatown staple serves one of the best renditions of a classic Cantonese dish: Salt & Pepper fish.

Lure Fishbar - Chicago

Copy Link

This NY sushi favorite is known for crowd-pleasing whole-fish dishes. That includes the Crispy Asian Snapper, which comes with spicy ginger, fried rice, and stir-fried vegetables.

Crispy red snapper
Lure Fish Bar

Chant Restaurant In Hyde Park

Copy Link

In Hyde Park, Chant serves an international menu that includes wok-prepared stir fries with Asian flavors. Chief among them includes a crispy catfish with sambal. It’s then slathered with remoulade and served with... macaroni and cheese. Don't knock it before trying it.

Crispy Town

Sarah Joyce/Eater Chicago

Inside Seafood City, the Filipino-based pan Asian grocer, the food court features a palace of fried food called Crispy Town. There’s tons of crispy goodness to pick from, but for fish lovers the fried smelt is the go to.

Sarah Joyce/Eater Chicago

Hermosa Restaurant

For Lent, sandwich maestro Ethan Lim has experimented with fish cakes to give Chicago a Korean version of the McDonald’s Filet O’ Fish. Be on the lookout for when this special item is available.

Basant Modern Indian Restaurant

This North Center upstart serves Indian food with a modern twist. Even after the end of the colonial era, India retains a British influence, and that’s given the country a legacy of English-style fried fish, something even useful due to the Catholic population within the subcontinent. Basant is spinning the Friday fish fry with a masala chaat batter and hand-cut chips.

Wazwan

Wazwan features both South Asian and Filipino flavors, with the latter courtesy of chef de cuisine Chris de La Cueva. A new menu item is the inaloban, a crispy fish strew served with a light broth, vegetables, and rice noodles. This is a symphony of textures and spices with all the ingredients harmonizing for a delicious bite.

El Barco Mariscos

This Mexican seafood specialist serves the traditional whole red snapper fried. Many Mexican restaurant in town service this delicacy, but El Barco is among the best.

The Mukase African Restaurant

This North Side African restaurant has a standout seafood dish available with fried snapper: Fried Fish With Kenkey. Kenkey is a Ghanaian dish made of fermented corn and is served like a dumpling. This price dish comes with onions and tomatoes.

In-On Thai

This stellar North Side Thai restaurant will never disappoint. There are a few fried fish options, but it’s always a good choice to explore anything bearing the “salad” descriptor. In that case, the choice is simple and elegant crispy fish salad with lime dressing, shallot, scallion and green apple. There’s also the spicier jungle salad variant.

Hai Yen Restaurant

This iconic restaurant in Uptown in the Asia on Argyle area features a homestyle DIY whole fried catfish spring roll that requires two hours of advance preparation. It’s called Cá Cuốn Bánh Tráng and is rarely seen on Vietnamese restaurant menus in Chicago.

Antique Taco Bridgeport

There are two locations of this modern taqueria. In Wicker Park and Bridgeport, customers can find the signature fried fish taco — tempura battered cod with smoked cabbage and a spicy tartar sauce.

Forastero Restaurant

This Old Town fast-casual fusion restaurant blends Mexican and Korean flavors in tacos and chicken wings. One of the strongest items is the fish taco. It’s tempura fried and topped with a Korean-style aioli.

Wentworth Seafood House

This Chinatown staple serves one of the best renditions of a classic Cantonese dish: Salt & Pepper fish.

Lure Fishbar - Chicago

Crispy red snapper
Lure Fish Bar

This NY sushi favorite is known for crowd-pleasing whole-fish dishes. That includes the Crispy Asian Snapper, which comes with spicy ginger, fried rice, and stir-fried vegetables.

Crispy red snapper
Lure Fish Bar

Chant Restaurant In Hyde Park

In Hyde Park, Chant serves an international menu that includes wok-prepared stir fries with Asian flavors. Chief among them includes a crispy catfish with sambal. It’s then slathered with remoulade and served with... macaroni and cheese. Don't knock it before trying it.

Related Maps