Chicago Eats: Smack Shack | chicago foodie girl


Chicago Eats: Smack Shack

For years, the seafood scene in Chicago was downright lacking; there were a few fine dining restaurants and scads of greasy fried fish joints, but that was about it. Whenever people would ask me for seafood restaurant recommendations, I really could only think of a handful of places that I both truly liked and thought were worth the cost. It was a sad state of fishy affairs. Thankfully, the seafood scene has done a complete 180 in the last few years. It seems like practically every month there's a new seafood joint popping up - from tiny seafood boils serving seriously spicy Cajun food to food trucks serving drool-worthy lobster rolls to even more fine dining options, there are multiple high-quality spots in practically every neighborhood. And now finally (finally!), we have our very own Smack Shack.

Located at the base of the Google building in Fulton Market, the massive restaurant (a 10,000-square-foot space!) offers diners a casual environment with a cutesy seafaring theme, an open kitchen with a 100-gallon seafood boil, and menu teeming with delicious lobster and crab dishes. Smack Shack originally started out as a food truck in Minneapolis (in fact, it was the city's very first licensed truck); as you all know I'm a huge fan of good food truck (along with Minneapolis and seafood, of course!), so it seemed destined to be that I would fall hard for their new Chicago location.

The downstairs bar area is super laid back with multiple seating options, along with open windows and tons of natural light, whereas the upstairs dining room has more of a traditional restaurant layout.

While the downstairs area is fun, there are definitely advantages to sitting in the dining room, especially if you're interested in the action, aka the massive custom lobster boil filled with the most aromatic Old Bay-spiked stock. There's also a live well behind the pot containing lobsters that are flown in daily.

Diana and I kicked off our dinner with a much-needed round of Hurricanes, made with Captain Morgan White & Black Rum. Diana said that it was so perfectly made that it reminded her of her favorite version in New Orleans... in fact, it was so good that we had to have a second round (just to make sure the first one wasn't a fluke, of course ;-) ).

Everyone I knew who had been there before us said that an order of the Lobster Guacamole is a must. Diana and I were both expecting to find the lobster in little chunks throughout, but we were pleasantly surprised to discover that the lobster is actually served as fairly large pieces on top of the guac. The large pieces ensured there was enough lobster to distribute throughout the entire bowl - they definitely don't skimp on this dish! Plus, lobster + guacamole = :-) :-) :-)

After we demolished the guacamole, we moved on to an order of Lorraine's Lump Crab Cakes, served over maque choux. The best thing about their crab cakes is that they are packed with fresh crab and not much else; unlike some other restaurants, Smack Shack keeps it simple and doesn't pump their cakes with fillers. There's also a good amount of heat from the peppers, so if you like your crab cakes with a little bite, you'll definitely enjoy this version.

Next, we moved on to what was my favorite dish of the entire evening, the Lobster Mac & Cheese, with Tallegio and sweet corn. I don't know what sort of mac & cheese wizardry they have going over there, but this was not only my favorite of their dishes but also my favorite version of lobster mac I've *ever* had. The mild, tangy cheese pairs perfectly with the buttery lobster and the breadcrumbs add a crunchy texture to the dish (which helps to cut through the richness). So much deliciousness!

Smack Shack offers two versions of a lobster roll, the Original with chilled lobster salad, cucumber & tarragon, and the Connecticut Style Roll with warm lobster tossed in butter, lemon & chive on a warm split top toasted bun. I greatly appreciated the simplicity of the Connecticut style roll, as my biggest complaint about lobster rolls in this city is that they're often stuffed with filler, usually celery (one of my most-hated foods!). While I'm not a lobster roll purist (one of my favorite versions is served on a thick slab of garlic bread), I certainly don't want a bunch of fillers, as I want to taste the lobster.

We couldn't leave without trying one of the boils; since we had already worked our way through a good number of the lobster offerings, we decided to order the Shrimp Boil, served with red potatoes, polish sausage, corn on the cob, coastal slaw, and milk bread. The shrimp were nicely seasoned and the sausage was particularly flavorful; however, I do wish we would have stuck with the lobster boil or tried the crab boil. There was nothing in particular that I disliked about the shrimp, but I think the lobster dishes are definitely the standouts.

Finally, we ended our meal with a piece of the light and creamy Banana Cream Pie, which reminded me of the way my mother used to make it (none of that weird fake banana taste!).

You can try all of this deliciousness and more at Smack Shack: 326 N. Morgan St., Chicago, IL.

ETA: This restaurant has closed. 


  1. I love Smack Shack in Minneapolis! Happy to see they've expanded and are bringing the deliciousness to Chicago :)

    1. It's such a fun place! Now I really want to try the original one in MN! :-)

  2. That dinner was SO GOOD!

    1. YES! It was one of my favorites of the entire summer! 🦀

  3. Starr! I had no idea you had a blog!
    Love it so much! Love the pictures and the writing!
    Thank you so much for your kind comment on my bday post!
    I'll be sure to stop by more often in here to see where should I eat next!
    Hope to see you soon!

    1. So nice to see you over here! XO
      I've actually been blogging far longer than I've been on Instagram... my blog is elderly at this point. ;-)

  4. That's. It! I have to visit Smack Shack here in minneapolis- it's been on my list and now I've got to make it happen. P.S. Just found your blog and I LOVE it so much! w

  5. I went for Brunch and they offer the best buffet I've ever had. For $35 you get so many amazing options. They have stations placed throughout the restaurant which is perfect so guests don't get congested in one area. I went there to have breakfast and ended up eating snow crab legs, oysters, shrimp, fresh fruit and the most tender brisket I've had in a long time! The food is fantastic.

    1. I haven't been there for brunch yet, but it is definitely on my to-do list!


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