Buying Guide: Dirk's Fish & Gourmet Shop

By Caitlin Klein in Food on Apr 11, 2011 6:30PM

As a home cook in Chicago, finding good seafood is always a going concern. At Chicagoist, we are always on the lookout for ingredients that are worth your time. Not being close to any coast makes buying fish in Chicago more of a challenge than buying our beloved pork or beef. We visited Dirk's Fish & Gourmet Shop in Lincoln Park to check out the fresh catches and sea how Dirk's measured up with other fishmongers around the city.

The Shop
The first thing you notice about Dirk's when you walk in is a really pleasant surprise. No revolting fish smell! Despite the small size of the shop and the large quantities of live and dead sea animals, the shop is conspicuously missing the pungent fish odor that comes with many seafood shops. Owner Dirk Fucik was on hand the day we went in, and seems to be at the shop constantly. We are not sure if he ever goes home, or just snuggles up with a snapper on a pallet of ice in the back at night. He is knowledgeable and friendly, giving each person advice on how to cook the fish they buy. We overheard him giving someone recommendations on what the best choices for homemade sushi might be. The shop also carries a slew of non-seafood items; the famous frozen apple pie in a paper bag, spice rubs, snacks, and sauces are for sale at Dirk's.

The Seafood
The seafood at Dirk’s is, without a doubt, some of the freshest to be found in this city. It’s also some of the priciest. We saw shrimp begging us to take them home and make them into a cocktail. Dirk’s has live lobster, roe in three colors, oysters, scallops, clams, and fish in many colors and sizes, including sole, salmon, tuna, grouper, bass, and swordfish steaks. Dirk’s also has premade items. They’ll make you salmon burgers, kebabs, crabcakes, wraps, and salads, but you’ll have to call ahead for all of these things. Most of them are made to order, so if you visit on a random weeknight (like we did), you don't have a prayer of walking away with a crabcake or fish en papilliote. The thing that seems to make Dirk's stand out from the rest of the fish shops and fishmongers we've visited is the personal touch. If you want something specific, or made just for you, Dirk's is the place. Just call ahead. Know, though, that you will pay for it. The price per pound on almost every item in the store is some of the highest we've seen.

Despite the price, we walked away with some beautiful jumbo scallops and didn’t look back. Recipe to come later this week.

Dirk's Fish & Gourmet Shop is located at 2070 N. Clybourn.