Slideshow: Seafood Sandwiches We Love in Chicago

Soft Shell Crab Sandwich at The Publican
Soft Shell Crab Sandwich at The Publican

It all starts with an impeccably fried soft shell crab, as sweet and crisp as I've ever encountered. The crunch of the crab is accentuated by the toasted roll, which also manages to be light. The sweet pickles add more texture, along with a shot of acidity. The lettuce leaf is a bit unnecessary, but the smear of aioli helps bring it all together. At $17, it's certainly not cheap. But I can't remember the last time I enjoyed a sandwich as much as this one. Read more »

The Publican 837 West Fulton Market, Chicago, IL 60607 (map); 312-733-9555; http://thepublicanrestaurant.com/

[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

Hook at Reno
Hook at Reno

This sandwich is comprised of house-cured togarashi lox, thinly sliced cucumber, creamy avocado, artichoke cream cheese, and sharp and crunchy red onion, all piled high between your choice of freshly wood-fired bagel. The cure on the rich, fatty salmon is mild, which means all the ingredients get their turn in the spotlight. Points for the restrained application of cream cheese, though the avocado and cucumber slices crave salt. The real star here, though, is the bagel itself: the inspired heavy use of cornmeal lends a uniform crunch to the exterior, while the interior is satisfyingly chewy. Read more »

Reno 2607 N Milwaukee Avenue Chicago, IL 60647 (map); 773-697-4234; renochicago.com

[Photograph: Joe Roy]

Crispy Soft Shell Crab at Japonais
Crispy Soft Shell Crab at Japonais

This crispy soft shell crab sandwich ($14) tastes just how an entire living creature should: fresh. Soft on the inside, with a thin crispy shell. You'll end up having to use your knife and fork by the end (which, in my opinion, adds to the raw nature of tearing apart a whole animal at lunch). The wasabi mayo and pickled veggies in the shallot escabeche give a great combination of spicy and vinegar flavor. The avocado and mayo together make it super creamy, almost excessively so, but the crab is good enough for me not to care too much. Read more »

Japonais 600 W. Chicago Avenue, Chicago, IL 60610 (map); 312-861-0200 ; http://www.japonaischicago.com

[Photograph: Molly Durham]

Supershrimp at Superdawg
Supershrimp at Superdawg

Going to Superdawg and not ordering the eponymous offering is much like going to Egypt and not seeing the pyramids. Though technically a sandwich, this toasted hamburger bun serves little more purpose than lining the bottom of the box. Fortunately, that lets the Godzilla-sized shrimp take center stage. Fried to a golden hue, they are crunchy on the outside with just a bit of pop on the inside. Legitimate two-biters, they are salty, delicious, and go well with the tangy "private sauce." Read more »

Superdawg, 6363 North Milwaukee Avenue, Chicago, IL 60646 (map) 773-763-0660, superdawg.com

[Photograph: Josh Conley]

Cajun Shrimp Wrap at Snappy’s Shrimp
Cajun Shrimp Wrap at Snappy’s Shrimp

This wrap, much like Snappy's Shrimp itself, just quietly and unpretentiously goes about the business of being awesome. Though boiled instead of fried, these crustaceans actually have, no pun intended, snap to them. Andouille sausage, yellow rice, lettuce, tomatoes and Buffalo sauce round out the lineup. Black pepper from the Cajun spices provides a deep, slow burn that outlasts the tangy, complementary heat of the Buffalo. The lettuce has a nice, simple crunch, and the rice is more flavor than filler. The tomatoes are like the French horn in this flavor symphony; you can't really hear them, but you feel better having them there. Read more »

Snappy's Shrimp 1901 West Irving Park Road, Chicago, IL 60613 (map); 773-244-1008; http://snappysshrimp.com/

[Photograph: Josh Conley]

Fried Whitefish at Found
Fried Whitefish at Found

Found offers two hefty fillets of whitefish that rest on a bed of frisée and fennel that adds a nice burst of acidity to this sandwich. The pickled beets and turnips on the side offer an even more vinegary bite if you're so inclined. Parsnip pickle slaw on top is the ideal combo of creamy and crunchy. The whole shebang fits neatly between a light, airy potato bun from Bennison's that adds a subtly sweet, starchy foundation to round out the flavors and textures. The potato bun squishes down nicely but holds up well. The amount of slaw is key here—enough for a delicious dill taste but not so much that it becomes an overflowing gloopy mess. Neither the crisp fish nor the bread becomes soggy. To fully appreciate the beauty of this sandwich, you need to get bun, slaw, fish, and frisée in each bite. Chef Nicole Pederson has trained her staff well—they are sandwich proportion geniuses. Read more »

Found 1631 Chicago Avenue, Evanston, IL 60201 (map); 847-868-8945; foundkitchen.com

[Photograph: Amber Gibson]

Tuna Melt at Le Cafe du Marche
Tuna Melt at Le Cafe du Marche

The success of this sandwich rests with the long and thin baguette, which has a crisp crust that shatters pleasingly when you bite in, leaving behind a mess of crumbs. Fortunately, it's also light, allowing you to really taste the shredded tuna and melted Swiss, along with a few briny black olives. Read more »

Le Café du Marche Chicago French Market, 131 North Clinton Street, Chicago, IL 60661 (map); 312-575-0306; frenchmarketchicago.com‎

[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

Scottish Salmon Reuben at the Local
Scottish Salmon Reuben at the Local

This is a pretty darn good salmon sandwich. Though salmon is switched for the classic corned beef of most reubens, everything else is still very much there, if in varying degrees. A mild but very flavorful sauerkraut sits atop the Thousand Island dressing, while melty Swiss peeks over the side of the meat. All that goodness is between two pieces of beautifully marbled rye, just sturdy enough to keep everything contained and not let any sauce or juice break down the construction. The large slab of salmon is cooked carefully, with just a trace of pink in the middle. The underside of the filet has a bit of crust, which adds a nice crunch to the sandwich with just a hint of extra flavor. The resulting combination of ingredients can be a bit oily, but just tell yourself it's just all the extra Omega-3 fatty acids dripping onto your fingers. Read more »

The Local 198 E Delaware Place Chicago, IL 60611 (map); 212-614-0473; TheLocalChicago

[Photograph: Nathan Lurz]