3259 E 95th St, Chicago, IL 60617, USA
|⏰ Opening Hours
8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
|💸 Entrance Fee
Find it on google maps
What is Calumet Fisheries?
Calumet Fisheries is a true diamond in the rough nestled on the South Side of Chicago, known far and wide for its smoked fish and seafood delights. It's a nondescript take-out shop that has been serving up fresh, smoky goodness since 1948. It's the kind of place with no tables or chairs, just a counter where pure magic happens. The secret? Traditional smoking techniques that have been passed down through generations. Trust me, one bite of their smoked salmon or sturgeon and you'll understand why people make pilgrimages from all over to this spot.
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History of Calumet Fisheries
Calumet Fisheries has a rich history dating back to its founding by brothers-in-law Sid Kotlick and Len Toll in 1948. Since then, it has remained a family-run establishment, preserving the integrity and flavors that have built its reputation. Over the decades, it has weathered the changing tides of the neighborhood and the city itself, but their commitment to quality has never waned. The smokehouse is legendary for using the same tried-and-true methods from the day it opened—slow smoking over selected woods to create incomparably rich and robust flavors.
Why is Calumet Fisheries Important?
Calumet Fisheries is more than just a fish shop; it's a piece of Chicago's culinary heritage. It stands as a testament to the tradition of smoking fish, a method that's been somewhat lost in the fast pace of modern life. And let's not forget, it’s a James Beard Award winner, a prestigious honor that cements its reputation in the American culinary landscape. The fisheries have also popped into popular culture; you might remember it from a scene in "The Blues Brothers" movie. Remember the car flying off the bridge? That very bridge is right next to this iconic spot. Through its doors have passed countless locals and celebrities, all seeking the authentic, unpretentious taste that is Calumet Fisheries.
Things to Do & See at Calumet Fisheries
Visiting Calumet Fisheries is all about the experience. The star of the show is, without a doubt, the fish. Whether it's smoked shrimp, sable, eel, or the famed smoked salmon, you're in for an epicurean treat. While there aren't any traditional dining amenities here, you can take your treasured find and enjoy it right on the bridge, with expansive views of the Calumet River—a local tradition that has its own charm.
For those with culinary curiosity, watching the smoking process—if you're lucky to catch it—is like peering into the past. The staff are artisans of their craft, and the pride they take in their work is palpable. While there's no formal tour, feel free to ask questions; the employees often share fascinating tidbits about their process.
Treat yourself to a true Chicago experience and one of the city's best-kept secrets. Just be prepared: there's usually a line, but I assure you, it's worth the wait.
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