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Hugo's Frog Bar & Fish House

PHOTOS: Christina Slaton

We’re always looking for new and exciting places to eat. But from time to time, we need to take a step back. Trendy restaurants aren’t always the best choice. Say, when your parents are in town, and you need familiar food, reliable quality, and a plethora of alcohol. You need Hugo’s.

Hugo’s is a fish house that shares a kitchen with its turf counterpart, Gibsons. Both restaurants cater to Gold Coast socialites, out-of-towners, and anyone else willing to spend a lot of money. The crowd’s median age is definitely over 40, but the vibe is lively, and mostly tipsy. It’s just the setting you need to keep the wheels greased as you motor through whatever birthday, business dinner, or family get-together in which you may find yourself.

Yes, you can order off the Gibsons menu, but this isn't the time for steak — get something nautical instead. Lucky for your dad, this isn’t another seafood fusion pop-up. It’s a classic, upscale establishment serving familiar dishes everyone loves. Go all in on the oysters, Alaskan king crab legs, and, since this is technically a frog bar, dabble in the frog legs. There’s a 100% chance you won’t like them without garlic butter, so don’t hold back.

Hugo’s is perfect for eating delicious food on another person’s dime without answering “what’s that?” for the thousandth time. It’s neither the hippest, nor the cheapest, but it’s just the kind of place your Midwestern family thinks is “pretty neat.” Overall, we have no complaints, and everyone is guaranteed to leave happy.

Food Rundown

Oysters

We’ll be honest, outside of east coast or west coast, deciding which oysters are right for us can be difficult. We love Hugo’s because the servers are knowledgeable and their suggestions will turn out much more favorable than our shots in the dark. A full-blown cold seafood platter wouldn't hurt either.

Frog Legs

It’s their namesake dish, so if you’re feeling adventurous, go for it. We suggest a lot of garlic butter and a strong stomach before investing in a larger order, but you should at least try them. Taste like chicken.

Crabmeat Avocado

Same appetizer as Gibsons—it’s crab stuffed in an avocado with a mysteriously addicting vinegarette on top. It’s more filling than you’d expect, so we suggest sharing.

Alaskan King Crab Legs

We prefer them chilled over steamed, but listen to your heart.

Pan-Fried Lake Superior Walleye

Here’s the problem with basic fish dishes: they sound boring, and they look even more boring. So when you bite into this fish, the flavor is that much more surprising—in a good way. This is one of our favorite fish dishes around.

Pan Seared Georges Bank Sea Scallops

Crispy potato, king crab, and black truffle hollandaise. These are some of our favorite foods in one dish. Needless to say, we’re fans.

Hugo’s Lobster Tail

Fancy folk know that smaller lobsters are usually more flavorful. What you’re forgetting is that we’re in Chicago, and that’s not the ocean, it’s Lake Michigan. This lobster tail is a sizable, impressive looking specimen. It’s not like “the one you had in Maine,” but it’s one of the best you can find here. We’ll take it.

Alaskan Red King Crab Mac & Cheese

Ordering fish makes you feel kind of healthy. We can’t be letting you do that. This mac & cheese is the side dish you need and the calories you deserve.

Planked White Fish

Basic, but good. Never a bad choice.

Dessert

Same situation as Gibsons. Cake as big as your head. The Meaning of Life Cake is definitely the move, with carrot coming in at a close second. Black forest chocolate cake, pictured here, is always a good option too.

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