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David Lissner
for restaurants

Chicago’s shrimpy history, continued

Lawrence's shrimp

Fried shrimp from Lawrence’s Fisheries.

While we’re indulging in Chicago seafood history this week, let’s talk about Chicago fried shrimp.

Shacks serving breaded and fried shellfish have been a Chicago fixture since at least 1935, when Troha’s, a West Side beer and chili joint, added shrimp to the menu. Despite the introduction of shrimp DeJonghe at the turn of the century, the crustaceans were still so unfamiliar to working-class Chicagoans that the Trohas had to offer free samples to get people to try them.

But once they did, the dish was was a hit, and many more fried-shrimp spots followed, among them such still extant stands as Calumet Fisheries in South Deering in 1948, Lawrence’s Fisheries in Armour square in 1950 and The Fish Keg in Rogers Park in 1951.

The tradition continued with the likes of Goose Island Shrimp House in 1973; Snappy’s Shrimp House, launched in North Center in 2004; Joey’s Shrimp House, opened in Humboldt Park in 2010; and many others.