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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

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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.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Crispy Town

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5033 N Elston Ave
Chicago, IL 60630

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

2. Hermosa Restaurant

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4356 W Armitage Ave
Chicago, IL 60639
(872) 802-4920
Visit Website

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.

3. Basant Modern Indian Restaurant

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1939 W Byron St
Chicago, IL 60613
(773) 770-3616
Visit Website

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.

4. Wazwan

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1742 W Division St
Chicago, IL 60622
(708) 369-9564
Visit Website

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.

5. El Barco Mariscos

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1035 N Ashland Ave
Chicago, IL 60622
(773) 486-6850
Visit Website

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.

6. The Mukase African Restaurant

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1363 W Wilson Ave
Chicago, IL 60640
(773) 754-7121
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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.

7. In-On Thai

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4641 N Broadway
Chicago, IL 60640
(773) 944-0114
Visit Website

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.

8. Hai Yen Restaurant

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1055 W Argyle St # 1
Chicago, IL 60640
(773) 561-4077
Visit Website

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.

9. Antique Taco Bridgeport

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1000 W 35th St
Chicago, IL 60609
(773) 823-9410
Visit Website

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.

10. Forastero Restaurant

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449 W North Ave
Chicago, IL 60610
(312) 265-0322
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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.

11. Wentworth Seafood House

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2229 S Wentworth Ave
Chicago, IL 60616
(312) 808-0899
Visit Website

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

12. Lure Fishbar - Chicago

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616 N Rush St
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 660-6180
Visit Website

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

13. Chant Restaurant In Hyde Park

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1509 E 53rd St
Chicago, IL 60615
(773) 324-1999
Visit Website

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.

1. Crispy Town

5033 N Elston Ave, Chicago, IL 60630
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.

5033 N Elston Ave
Chicago, IL 60630

2. Hermosa Restaurant

4356 W Armitage Ave, Chicago, IL 60639

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.

4356 W Armitage Ave
Chicago, IL 60639

3. Basant Modern Indian Restaurant

1939 W Byron St, Chicago, IL 60613

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.

1939 W Byron St
Chicago, IL 60613

4. Wazwan

1742 W Division St, Chicago, IL 60622

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.

1742 W Division St
Chicago, IL 60622

5. El Barco Mariscos

1035 N Ashland Ave, Chicago, IL 60622

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.

1035 N Ashland Ave
Chicago, IL 60622

6. The Mukase African Restaurant

1363 W Wilson Ave, Chicago, IL 60640

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.

1363 W Wilson Ave
Chicago, IL 60640

7. In-On Thai

4641 N Broadway, Chicago, IL 60640

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.

4641 N Broadway
Chicago, IL 60640

8. Hai Yen Restaurant

1055 W Argyle St # 1, Chicago, IL 60640

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.

1055 W Argyle St # 1
Chicago, IL 60640

9. Antique Taco Bridgeport

1000 W 35th St, Chicago, IL 60609

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.

1000 W 35th St
Chicago, IL 60609

10. Forastero Restaurant

449 W North Ave, Chicago, IL 60610

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.

449 W North Ave
Chicago, IL 60610

11. Wentworth Seafood House

2229 S Wentworth Ave, Chicago, IL 60616

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

2229 S Wentworth Ave
Chicago, IL 60616

12. Lure Fishbar - Chicago

616 N Rush St, Chicago, IL 60611
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.

616 N Rush St
Chicago, IL 60611

13. Chant Restaurant In Hyde Park

1509 E 53rd St, Chicago, IL 60615

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.

1509 E 53rd St
Chicago, IL 60615

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