Early in our new life in Chicago, I decided not to write constantly about all our new finds here because 1)who has the time? 2) I wanted Chicago to feel more like home than a trip. But it’s time for the occasional exception, maybe because Calumet Fisheries is so far from our usual stomping ground here and it’s an interesting place.
As promised, it’s in a dreary looking industrial area of south Chicago AND it has delicious fresh fish and seafood, smoked and fried. There’s a reason it won a James Beard award for being one of those classic places to eat. It’s a humble little shack just past the underpass of I-94 and an unlovely bridge over a not-scenic stretch of the Calumet River. Across the street is what looks like a giant rusted funnel in a barren lot.
Midday on a Saturday there was a small group of customers inside. Cash only. A poster of the late great Anthony Bourdain, whose show on Chicago food got us here. The young guy behind the counter was patient and helpful, offering advice on what to try as first-timers. We got fried and smoked fare: just-fried oysters, catfish and smelt; a chunk of moist not-too-salty smoked salmon and smoked shrimp (a first for us). The forlorn picnic table outside might work in warmer weather but we opted to drive home 35 minutes before eating in earnest. We did sample a few still-hot oysters and smelt in the car. All delicious. We’ll be back!