Get messy with boiled seafood at Skokie restaurant

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Hungry Hound: Boiler Shrimp & Crawfish (WLS)

One of the more interesting food trends in Chicago right now is really a West Coast import, but it focuses on seafood. And while it's one of the messiest ways to eat, it's certainly delicious.

From the Angry Crab on the Northwest Side, to the Asian Cajun in Lincoln Park, there is a massive trend toward boiled seafood, by the pound, with a choice of seasoning and sauce. The latest and greatest local version happens to be located in a Skokie strip mall.

Forget about the knives and forks, because there are none at The Boiler Shrimp & Crawfish in Skokie. Here, you have to be prepared to strap on a bib and get your hands dirty.

"It's a West Coast concept. I lived out there with the wife and we just got addicted to it so when we came back to Chicago there was pretty much no excuse why this can't be here. We get all our seafood fresh," said co-owner Christopher Talo.

Everything is sold by the pound - lobster, shrimp, crab, mussels, clams, live crawfish - whatever is on the daily board. The seafood is first weighed, then boiled with about 27 different seasonings in the boil, followed by your choice of sauce.

"We have a Cajun, lemon, garlic sauce, and then our special is the Trifecta; it's a blend of all three seasonings," Talo said.

At the table, there are very few utensils. Maybe a mallet or splitter to help you with those tough claws, but other than that, it's all hands, caveman-style, and it's a blast. Where else can you get this primal when it comes to eating your dinner? Fortunately, they have plenty of towels and sinks to help clean up afterward, but when you're elbow-deep in this much seafood, just embrace the mess.

"No utensils. If you choose, you may have a splitter or cracker but we like to just dig in with our hands," he said.

The Boiler Shrimp & Crawfish
3445 Dempster St., Skokie
(847) 779-3150

EXTRA COURSE VIDEO: How to tackle eating crawfish, pinching the tail and sucking the head in all its glory

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