As the old saying goes, judge a book by its cover, as long as you’re the kind of judge who assumes a dive bar is going to serve delicious and fresh seafood. It’s as simple as that really, because you would never expect Half Shell to serve quality King Crab legs based on looks alone.

Half Shell is the kind of place you might expect to find on the East Coast. It’s that basic, no frills, dive bar approach to delivering fresh and fried fish that you typically see in a clam shack, and even without an ocean in sight, this is a seafood joint we think even New Englanders would be proud to call their own.

Located on Diversey just west of Clark, we won’t fault you if you’ve never noticed Half Shell, but that should change. It’s a small place, with seating limited to a few scattered plastic tables around and a happening bar, complete with colorful Christmas lights strung throughout, and a whole boatload of other crap that probably has no relevance to the overall decor. There’s also a small patio for the summer, which is great, but don’t let that limit your visits to only the warmer months. We love posting up at the bar in the winter with the intention of eating a whole lot of crab and drinking one to sixty beers.

Once you do make it in for a meal, don’t feel compelled to order everything all at once. There’s nothing wrong with starting slow on oysters or shrimp and just working your way through the menu until having to call it quits. It won’t be cheap, but how cheap can good shellfish really be? Just remember to bring cash because it’s all they’re accepting.

Food Rundown

Half a Dozen Cherry Stone Clams Cooked on Open Fire

Something about a little flame to these clams makes us prefer them to the uncooked ones.

King Crab Legs

The go-to. Your choice of the cold appetizer or steamed dinner served with fries. Both are great, and we only prefer one over the other based on our mood. Served with butter and garlic sauce.

Deep Fried Oysters

The fresh Blue Point Oysters here never seem to do it for us, but the same cannot be said about the fried version, which are definitely done right.

Steamed Dungeness Crab

While most people probably prefer King Crab, Dungeness is a personal favorite of ours. Aside from the obvious tastiness of the claw meat, we love dipping fries or saltines into the gooey mid parts, which contrary to what others may tell you is 100% the move.

Snow Crab

A slightly smaller, sweeter, and more delicate version than the King Crab.

Thirty Two Pointer

A whole mess of fried stuff, including shrimp, smelt, perch, clams, fries, and frog legs. That’s right, frog legs, which do actually taste like chicken. A great order to share.

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