When I moved to Chicago after growing up in New England, I wondered where I would get my seafood fix. Thanks to modern transportation, it's not difficult to dine on seafood not long out of the ocean, even in the middle of the country. But I still wondered how exactly the crabs got here
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We don't want to get all hyperbolic, but we're unsure if any other neighborhood equals Lakeview in the quantity and diversity of its cheap eats. Sure, the Chicago classics are covered, including some of the best examples of burgers, hot dogs, and pizza in the city. But what we love the is the mix of new and old.
We may be far from either coast, but Chicago is in the midst of a love affair with the oyster, as almost every new restaurant touts its fresh oyster program. But oysters require constant care and attention, and the best places we found dedicate serious resources to doing things right. Here are some of our favorites.
Just as oysters seemed to pop up at each new restaurant opening last year in Chicago, now lobster rolls seem to be everywhere. Of course, not all lobster rolls are created equal. Here are eight you should try now.
A burger patty-sized crab cake is expertly fried and dressed simply with iceberg lettuce, tomato slices, red onion, and Old Bay spiked mayo. The pillowy, toasted bun deserves mention, too: it's sturdy and flavorful without overshadowing the delicate crabmeat.
The dish is prepared "Federal Hill," RI style, which apparently means breaded, deep fried, and tossed after the fact with picked banana pepper rings, jalapeño slices, and sliced garlic, with a light grating of Parmesan cheese and some chopped parsley sprinkled on top.
A splendid plate of octopus takes some doing. Cook it too long, and it dries out; don't cook it long enough, and octopus can be as forgiving as the sole of a dress shoe. But restaurants are taking an array of thoughtful approaches right now to serving up the cephalopod. Some opt to cook it sous vide, then finish it on the grill to order, leaving the texture pleasantly pliant and the flavor slightly flamed-kissed; others grill it and chill it, allowing octopus's natural chewiness to come through on the plate. Check out the slideshow of eight octopus dishes we love in Chicago.