Smoked fish at Calumet Fisheries.
(Photo by Andrew Conaway)
(5635 W. Montrose Ave., 773-283-1944)
Because they've been around so long their live, wood smoker has been grandfathered in, and they'll smoke whatever you bring them.
Because Dirk will do anything for his customers (he tracked down E. Coast sturgeon for me once, and had it smoked a la Ess-a-Bagel style); that canoe on his car out front isn't for show. He fishes the Skokie Lagoons regularly as a hobby.
Because if you engage Bill Dugan on any species or fishery or region, he'll give you a doctoral thesis on it, then feed you.
Because the Beard Foundation awarded them with a Regional Classic earlier this year, and for good reason. Fried shrimp, smoked fish done old school.
Because man does not live on Chinatown's fried fish alone.
Honorable Mention: Kaufman's Deli
(Oy, I know it's in Skokie, but do you really have to ask?)