Kamala Harris once again visits a South Side icon after speech in Chicago. Here’s what makes Calumet Fisheries great. – Chicago Tribune


After Vice President Kamala Harris delivered a speech at Crowley’s Yacht Yard overlooking the 95th Street Bridge Wednesday, she made an impromptu visit to one of Chicago’s most iconic restaurants, Calumet Fisheries (3259 E. 95th St.). The restaurant may be located in a tiny building with no dining room, but it’s been dishing out phenomenally smoked and fried seafood since 1948.

“It was surprising, exciting and also overwhelming,” manager Javier Magallanes said over the phone. “Out of all the places she could have gone in Chicago, from the high-end restaurants on down, she picked us. It was a pleasure.”

Magallanes said Harris picked up a number of items, including pepper garlic trout, regular trout, a half-order of fried oysters and smoked salmon that had just been pulled off the smoker.

While it was fun to chat with Harris for a second, Magallanes said he was most surprised by the Secret Service. “You hear about the Secret Service, but you’ll never know what it’s going to be like until they all show up,” Magallanes said. “And there were media there as well, so it was crazy.”

A food order is placed by a customer at Calumet Fisheries on March 1, 2021. Brothers-in-law Sid Kotlick and Len Toll opened Calumet Fisheries in 1948 and the same family still runs it today.
A customer enters Calumet Fisheries on Sept. 17, 2021.

This isn’t Calumet Fisheries’ first blush with media attention. In 2009, Anthony Bourdain visited the restaurant on“No Reservations.” You may also notice he went with Louisa Chu, who is now co-dining critic. And in 2010, the restaurant won an America’s Classics Award from the James Beard Foundation.

Though Chicago is not known for its fresh seafood, the city has a strong fried seafood tradition, especially on the South Side. Along with Calumet Fisheries, places such as Haire’s Gulf Shrimp (7448 S. Vincennes Ave.) and Hienie’s Shrimp House (10359 S. Torrence Ave.) have been serving crunchy freshly fried shrimp for decades.

We’re not sure who is exactly responsible, but Vice President Harris has been getting great South Side eats recommendations. Last year she swung by the excellent Brown Sugar Bakery in Chatham and picked up a slice of German chocolate cake.

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