Calumet Fisheries smokes, fries fish on South Side

March 14, 2014 (CHICAGO)

During Lent, demand for seafood in Chicago skyrockets, especially on Fridays. There's a tiny little fish shack on the city's South Side where they've been frying and smoking fish for more than 80 years.

Located right next to the bridge made famous in "The Blues Brothers," Calumet Fisheries was famous long before Belushi and Aykroyd came to town. They've been smoking salmon, sturgeon, sable and shrimp since the 1920s.

And it shows no signs of slowing down, especially during Lent.

As one of two smokehouses still allowed to burn wood and smoke its fish in the city, Calumet Fisheries is a South Side icon of sorts, located in the shadow of the old steel mills. On any given day, their tiny smokehouse out back reveals thick salmon steaks - some plain, others embedded with black pepper and garlic - as well as giant shrimp or fatty sable and sturgeon.

"We do salmon, sturgeon, sable, trout, rainbow, smoked shrimp," said Carlos Rosas, one of the Managers at Calumet Fisheries. "A heavier fat content fish will be better tasting for smoked fish."

The smokehouse is only half of the menu. There's also an ample amount of fried fish available up front, including shrimp, catfish, frog's legs and that Midwestern delicacy: smelt. Rosas says regular customers have been coming here for years, but this time of year - during Lent - the Fridays and weekends tend to get pretty crazy.

"It all sells fairly well," said Rosas.

Calumet Fisheries
3259 E. 95th St.

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