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TGI Fry-Day: Fried Shrimp from Redhot Ranch

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[Photograph: Joe Roy]

Today is Good Friday, tolling the end of Lent and my self imposed Friday fried fish regimen. If you recall, I'm a little on the obsessive side when it comes to fried fish. But after more than six weeks of the stuff, my wife has had enough. And I guess if you twist my arm, I'll admit I could use a break as well.

Even though I've done a fine job this year of piecing together the Lenten fish fry experience of my youth, the truth is that it's been a lot of work. Between remembering to make sure that I bring along my homemade tartar sauce and finding a place that can even begin to live up to my impossibly high expectations, I might as well just stay home and fry the fish myself. Maybe it's time to to accept once and for all that what Chicago has to offer simply can't fill that fried fish hole in my heart.

If I'm willing to diversify, though, the Fried Shrimp ($7.73 for a 1/2 lb.) at Redhot Ranch just might come close. Now I know that Redhot is primarily a hot dog stand, and my love for their fries is no secret on this site. But while fried shrimp places abound in Chicago, few serve shrimp that will leave you feeling as giddy as these will. The lightly seasoned breading fiercely adheres to the shrimp and remains crunchy down to the last bite. And the shrimp themselves are perfectly pink and toothsome, each bite exploding with a briny flavor that is enhanced by the slightly spicy cocktail sauce that comes on the side.

Does this mean that I won't be going through the same fried fish song and dance all over again next year? Don't bet on it. But next time I get an offseason hankering for fried seafood, I'll do it your way, Chicago. The best part? I won't have to stop for mayonnaise and pickle slices on the way.

Redhot Ranch

2072 N Western Avenue Chicago, IL 60647 (map)
773-772-6020

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