[Photograph: Lindsey Becker]

It's hard to imagine how the Sautéed Blackened Tilapia Sandwich ($7) at Dirk's Fish could be any fresher. Upon my order, the tilapia fillet was taken directly out of the display case and sautéed. The fantastic ciabatta bread from Red Hen was toasted just long enough to retain a crisp exterior and a soft, chewy interior. Then the sandwich was piled with lettuce, tomato, and onion—ingredients that are frequently bland and lifeless elsewhere, but here they contribute heartily to the overall feeling of freshness.

The blackening spice on the fillet provided an complex smoky and subtle warmth with a house-made spicy mayo lending most of the heat. Overall, I was left with the impression of a meaty, well-balanced sandwich and a pleasant lingering mouth-tingle that was tempered by a few bites of Dirk's crisp cabbage slaw.

Dirk's Fish & Gourmet Shop

2070 N. Clybourn Ave, Chicago, IL 60614 (map)


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