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Calumet Fisheries

Written by

“Here it is the groove slightly transformed.
Just a bit of a break from the norm.
Just a little somethin’ to break the monotony.
Of all that hardcore dance snow that has gotten to be.
A little bit out of control it’s cool to dance.
But what about the groove smoked fish that soothes that moves romance.”

Before Will Smith was allegedly a member of Scientology and had a kid that wears Batman costumes to Kardashian weddings, he was a pretty cool dude. And with a little tweak of two words, it appears Will Smith was so cool he dedicated his 1991 hit song “Summertime” to Calumet Fisheries. Seriously though. If you actually break it down, this verse perfectly sums up the classic Chicago fish shack.

An afternoon trip to Calumet is one of our favorite summer activities to break up the monotony of daily life, and the smoked fish is so good it will make you want to dance, particularly the salmon and shrimp. Fried fish is available and also good, but it’s more so a supplement to the smoked stuff. Calumet is cash only and whole smoked fish ain’t cheap, but it’s a great way to take a drive and spend some time with whoever it is you’re trying to romance.

Told you “Summertime” was basically dedicated to this place.

Calumet Fisheries is literally a shack located on the 95th Street bridge over the Calumet River, wedged between Lake Michigan and the Chicago Skyway. It’s a strictly take-out operation with only room for a few people to be inside at once. There are two makeshift tables outside, but your general plan should be to eat while sitting or standing half in/half out of your car. Yes, Anthony Bourdain filmed No Reservations here in 2009, and yes, this is the bridge from the original Blues Brothers movie, but don’t think for one second Calumet has relied on either to stay in business since 1948. It’s the fish that keeps people coming back year in and year out.

Fish so good it’s worth the drive. Summer summer summer time. Time to sit back and unwind.

*Editors Note: Calumet is open year round. We take trips in the winter and encourage you to do the same. Wear gloves.

Food Rundown

Smoked Fish

You can’t go wrong with any ofthe smoked fish. Options include: Catfish, Eel, Heads & Collars, Rainbow,Trout, Sable, Salmon (plain or pepper and garlic), Shrimp, Sturgeon, Trout(plain or pepper & garlic), White Fish, and Herring. Everything is smoked in their little smokehouse out back, kind of like barbecued meat would be. I cannot stress enough how much I like the smoked salmon and shrimp. The shrimp takes some fighting with and is more enjoyable in the summer months when you’re happy to be there and outside. The salmon is worth trekking out for in snowstorms to bring home for that night and the next day.

Fried Stuff

The fried stuff is no slouch either. And let’s be honest, who doesn’t want fried food? You can get dinners that come with fries, coleslaw, and a drink, or just get fried fish in half or whole orders. Fried fish options include catfish, scallops, crab cakes, shrimp, oysters, clam strips, smelts, and calamari. Chicken nuggets and fried frog legs are available too. My favorites are the fried catfish, shrimp, and oysters, but feel free to order whatever sounds good. Keep an eye out for fried mac and cheese.

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