1. Hagen’s (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.
2. Dirk’s Fish & Gourmet Shop (2070 N. Clybourn Ave., 773-404-3475)
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.
3. The Fish Guy Market (4423 N. Elston Ave., 773-283-7400)
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.
4. Calumet Fisheries (3259 E. 95th St., 773-933-9855)
Because the Beard Foundation awarded them with a Regional Classic earlier this year, and for good reason. Fried shrimp, smoked fish done old school.
5. Lawrence’s Fisheries (2120 S. Canal St., 312-225-2113)
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?)