Howdy, folks! I hope you all had a wonderful weekend. Today, I have a roundup of some fabulous spots where I satisfied my seafood cravings last week. All of the restaurants included in this post are located in Chicago. Most people do not equate the middle of the United States with great seafood. I would certainly agree that the coastal regions rightfully lay claim to having the best seafood in the country. However, Lake Michigan and the other nearby Great Lakes are chock full of delicious fish, too. In most cases, shellfish is flown in daily from the East and West coasts. Of course, the crustaceans Chicago receives never taste as fresh as they do when they are plucked from the sea the same day that they are served in those locations. Still, many restaurants here do a mighty fine job at serving up the very best quality fish they procure.
Here’s how my fish frenzy went down:
Buzz Bait Taqueria:
Last Sunday, after I consumed mass quantities of coffee at Eva’s Cafe, I headed over to Buzz Bait Taqueria for some sustenance. This adorable, aquatic taco joint is located on Wells St., the main drag in Old Town. It is just 4 blocks east and 1 block south of the Sedgwick ‘L’ stop, along the CTA Brown Line.
Buzz Bait has a fun, beach-y vibe in a fast-casual setting. I was really very impressed with the quality of the seafood at this place. I ordered a combo plate which has two tacos in an order. I chose the BBQ salmon taco and the crispy cod fish taco. I grabbed a seat at the counter near the front window. Before long, my tacos were brought to me all nice and warm. Both the salmon and the cod were nicely cooked and very sweet.
The accompanying toppings for each taco were super crispy, fresh and verdant. The bbq salmon was smoked and served with slaw, corn salsa, sweet chili sauce, cotijo cheese and bourbon bacon. The Alaskan cod was prepared in a Sapporo beer batter and topped with a mango salsa, slaw an a yogurt sauce. On my next visit, I will wander around the menu a bit more, as well a try one of their margaritas. Buzz Bait also serves bowls, salads and quesadillas. They are located at 1529 N. Wells St.
Monday, Chicago encountered another snow storm. While there was not much accumulation, we experienced a steady stream of the white stuff all day long. I decided to hunker down with a light lunch at at Sunda in the River North neighborhood. This sexy spot is located just 2 blocks north and 1 1/2 blocks east of the Merchandise Mart ‘L’ stop, along the CTA Brown Line. It’s also 2 1/2 blocks west and 1 block south of the Grand ‘L’ stop, along the CTA Red Line.
Sunda has been a hot spot in town since it opened a few years ago. I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t love this place. It boasts some great Asian fusion dishes, as well as sushi and fun cocktails. I arrived at the end of lunch service to enjoy a really quiet and relaxing meal. There are so many things from which to choose but I went with this seafood curry Bento box.
The green curry was a mix of shrimp and white fish, pineapple, lemongrass and peppers. It was served with along side some white rice. This Bento box also included 4 pieces of spicy tuna roll (you could swap that out for a California roll, if you prefer), a seaweed salad and miso soup. It was a wonderfully savory and satisfying lunch option. I washed it all down with some Prosecco.
Sunda is located at 110 W. Illinois St.
La Sirena Clandestina:
Wednesday brought more wet weather. This time it came in the form of rain. So, I rode the rails over to one of my favorite seaside-like spots in Chicago. La Sirena Clandestina is a sexy little Brazilian-inspired restaurant located the the West Loop. I absolutely love the vibe of this place, as well as the tasty food. It is just 1 block north of the Morgan ‘L’ stop, along the CTA Green and Pink Lines.
As I mentioned, it has a beach-y feel and it is meant to evoke the memories which Chef John Manion holds dear from his time living in Brazil. Whatever you do, make sure you try the fabulous empanadas and alfajores (dulce de leche cookies). On this recent visit, I enjoyed this open-faced sandwich made with house-cured gravlax, sweet tomatoes, red onions, capers, buttery avocado and cream cheese spread. The bread was nice and crispy A very thoughtful and ample side salad rode shotgun.
La Sirena Clandestina is located at 954 W. Fulton Market.
GT Fish & Oyster:
Friday arrived and so did another round of snow! After getting my hair done (and having it worse for wear when I stepped out of the salon and into the elements), I headed over to GT Fish & Oyster for an afternoon snack before dinner. It is located 3 blocks west of the Grand ‘L’ stop, along the CTA Red Line.
I love this seafood-centric spot by Chef Giuseppe Tentori. I took a load off for a bit with a glass of Cava and this lovely tuna nicoise salad. It is no small feat to create a perfectly dressed salad, folks! The slices of tuna, the lettuce, olives and dressing were pulled together in the most impressive way. This dish was just enough to hold me until dinner.
GT Fish & Oyster is located at 531 N. Wells St.
This is where I stopped in for dinner a couple of hours later. It is one of the more elegant restaurants in River North, along the Chicago River. There are great views of the newly renovated Riverwalk. I’ve been here before and I’ve been delighted each time. Last Friday was no exception. I ordered the walleye with braised San Marzano tomatoes, fennel salad, caper berries and farro. This dish is a winner! The fish is crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. The mix of the accompanying ingredients is super flavorful, spicy, tangy and earthy.
The Kitchen is located at 319 N. Clark St., just 1 1/2 blocks north of the Clark/Lake ‘L’ stop, along the CTA Blue, Green, Orange, Brown and Pink Lines.
Sunday brought another day of dreary weather. It rained all day long. Yet, I was not deterred from having an early Sunday supper at Tanta, a Peruvian restaurant in River North. It’s located 2 12 blocks west of the Grand ‘L’ stop, along the CTA Red Line.
I love Peruvian food because it brings the spicy without being over the top. I started things off with a traditional Pisco Sour cocktail and house made plaintain chips and dip. Both were spot on. The cocktail was well balanced and the chips were extremely crispy with ample salt.
The menu has shared plates and full entrees. There is a nice selection of ceviche which I will sample on another visit. This particular night, I chose one of the anticuchos which are Peruvian street food skewers. This pulpo (octopus) anticucho is made with chimichurri, crispy garlic and olive sauce. It is served over a potato preparation. Really colorful and delicious.
Next up, I ordered this ahi tuna causita. A causita is the Peruvian version of sushi rolls. A whipped garlic potato is used in place of rice. It was made with avocado, nori, cucumber, wasabi tobiko and rocoto cream. I loved this dish the best. I was left wanting more.
The vibe at Tanta is trendy but casual. I am really looking forward to the rooftop patio opening in May. I can grab some friends and enjoy some cocktails, empanadas an more up there, during the warm weather.
Tanta is located at 118 W. Grand Ave.
There you have them, folks! My weekly roundup is yours for the keeping. Grab your Ventra card and hop the rails to chow down on these great seafood dishes. Do you have some favorite seafood restaurants you’d like to share with me? I would love to hear all about it! Leave a comment and I’ll get back to you.
In keeping with the spirit of Feeding Off The Rails, I encourage you to leave your car at home and take the CTA trains to these tasty seafood destinations. Save on gas. Avoid traffic, road rage and parking. Reduce pollution. Don’t drink and drive!