If you're a fan of shellfish, you should be mad at yourself if you don't know Veneno De Nayarit. We say this considering our close and personal relationship with Veneno, with close and personal meaning we probably ate about 600 prawns on our most recent visit. The term "Mexican Seafood" may not strike you as a friendly combination, but that's exactly what Veneno does so well. They specialize in Nayarit style dishes, and with Nayarit being a Mexican state that borders the Pacific Ocean, you should expect a lot of fish and spices in the mix.
Our favorite way to eat lobster and crab isn't in a proper setting. We prefer shellfish joints that have more in common with our favorite wing spot than our favorite steakhouse. Give us a relaxed atmosphere where you're there for the food and not afraid to get a little messy. And this no frills spot sitting unceremoniously in Wicker Park serves some of the best lobster, crab, and prawns you'll ever eat. Don't let the dirty floors and mythical chupacabras on the wall fool you...this sh*t is delicious. Unicorns and Bigfoot kind of magical delicious.
Despite having two floors, it's still not the biggest place, so depending on the size of your party and timing you may have to wait a minute for a table. But whether you have a group of two or twelve, expect a fun atmosphere with a spectrum of people ranging from families to frat bros. Sharing is necessary, so talk over the menu before ordering. That said, you should stick to the house specials, particularly the lobster and prawns highlighted in the Food Rundown below.
The restaurant is also BYOB, but make sure to stop at your local liquor store first because the closest to Veneno isn't close enough. We prefer plenty of light beers and tequila to keep us going through the meal without impeding our ability to eat.
No need to decide whether or not you want to order the ceviche, because it's coming to the table as soon as you sit down. Accompanied with some tostadas and a house made hot sauce, it's a good way to start the meal.
Alright, so not everyone can be perfect. You don't really need an appetizer anyway, so skip 'em.
A giant lobster baked and jam-packed with a seafood stuffing, octopus being the lead ingredient. The seafood stuffing could be a meal in itself, but this massive tray comes with rice, vegetables, and fries too. Don't ignore these fillers, they are ideal for soaking up leftover prawn sauce that will inevitably be left taunting you.
Prawns in a thin tomato-based broth with some onions, garlic, and other secret ingredients. Along with the stuffed lobster, it's the reason you're here. Served in three different sizes, the number of people at your table should determine how many you get.
Grilled octopus cooked in a sauce with a spicy kick. If you're looking for something a little different this is worth a try.
A whole red snapper with a nice fry. It won't wow you like the prawns or stuffed lobster, but if you have a big group this is a good way to mix things up.