It’s a cold February weeknight, I’m driving around Chicago with my good friend Theophilus Jamal, who absolutely loves fish & chips. The time was fast approaching 9 PM on a mid-week night and our eating options were rapidly diminishing as we discussed our options for his beloved dish. I turned to my Android smartphone and hit Google; and the search gods of the internet spoke: Hagen’s Fish Market open until 10 PM.
Fifteen minutes later we pulled up to the brightly lit fish market, a beacon for all to see at night along Chicago’s Montrose Ave. This was some exciting stuff; I love Chicago shrimp shacks, and this place had “the look” to be an excellent one. The sign proudly proclaims “Since 1946”, I knew right then this was going to be a classic.
Inside the smell of 60 years of smoked fish and steady business greeted you, not in a bad way, but in the way that you know it’s a classic fish joint. The counter was run by a knowledgeable, patient, long time employee, who said she's been working at Hagen’s for over 20 years. Then she skillfully explained the counter layout; telling us about “guaranteed fresh”, fresh frozen and the specials of the day.
Theo obviously went for the fish planks of Lake Perch, I went for the shrimp both medium & jumbo. They fresh fried our orders of hand breaded seafood and bagged them to go for us. Hot steam wafted out of the brown bags we rushed back to the car hoping the cold air wouldn’t steal away any of the heat.
Everything was magnificent! We demolished all three pounds of our seafood in minutes. Hagen’s over delivered on the goods, the quality was impeccable, the counter service fantastic and the experience of eating at one of the best fish markets in the city was without equal.
It may have taken me 65 years to discover what Hagen's customers have long known; Hagen's seafood kicks ass, but it’s on my list of favorites now. Thank God they waited for me!
Hagen Fish Market Inc.
5635 West Montrose Avenue
Chicago, IL 60634-1881