Stop by any given night at Portsmith at the dana hotel in Chicago’s River North neighborhood and you’ll find guests dining on fried oysters and fish and chips. Bill Dugan, better known by chefs throughout Chicago’s top restaurants as “the fish guy” and owner of The Fishguy Market and Wellfleet, sends his email subscribers weekly specials that will make you swoon for lobster rolls. Chicagoans no longer have to fly to Boston or Miami to get quality and delicious seafood.
I’ll admit, Chicago isn’t the first place I think of when I think of seafood dishes. Over the past few years, though, that’s changed as I’ve begun noticing more restaurants, especially restaurants in hotels like the dana hotel, focusing on seafood. While you’ll regularly find great seafood at steak houses, I’m excited to see more options in places you wouldn’t expect.
As more of us are trying to increase our fish intake for health reasons, I’m grateful for any opportunity to enjoy fresh seafood. Whenever I read Dugan’s weekly email of the fish available at The Fishguy Market, I’m reminded of this great resource and try to figure out when I can stop by. I, like many of my fellow Americans, regardless of gender, aren’t getting enough fish in our diet.
The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans encourages Americans to choose seafood twice a week in place of meats, poultry, or eggs, to increase our protein variety. Some argue they don’t like the taste, texture or smell while others don’t feel they know how to buy or prepare seafood.
Whenever I do visit The Fishguy Market, Dugan himself is behind the counter. The affable fishmonger is always ready to give shoppers advice on how to prepare a certain type of fish or what would pair well with a specific dish. Whenever I’ve brought my kids, he engages them, too, asking them what they typically like to eat so he can better recommend fish that might appeal to them.
Similarly, Wixter Market tries to appeal to customers in a number of ways to make themselves more accessible. Whether it’s recommending how to prepare a seafood-focused Bloody Mary or to help provide provisions for brunch, seafood markets like Wixter are really trying hard to help people give seafood a chance.
Not everyone craves fresh seafood. For those wanting to enjoy fried fish, Lawrence’s Fish and Shrimp in Chicago’s Chinatown neighborhood, is a family-owned staple, serving deep-fried seafood and chicken 24 hours a day, seven days a week, in a laid-back atmosphere. The restaurant has two more outposts: one on the southwest side, on 87th Street, and one in the western suburb of Westchester, about 30 minutes from Chicago.
On this particular Thursday night when I dined at Portsmith, the nautical-inspired restaurant was packed. While the menu changes by season, it’s a great place to try a number of dishes with friends. The weekend brunch looks tempting as it includes an ahi tuna and avocado on the menu and the Blackwater Bay Bloody Mary comes complete with Aquavit, steamed clam, squid ink and kombu. Per doctor’s orders, I’m ready to make reservations.
Photos Courtesy of Leigh Loftus