Hagen’s Fish Market: Seafood is Lovefood

Photo Credit: Gene Wagendorf III

Tucked away on the city’s quiet northwest side where nothing happens (OK, not nothing, but certainly not much) lies Hagen’s, Chicago’s premier seafood destination. No, it’s not a fancy restaurant or a secret dining club. It’s an old-school fish market that, much like comic book superhero Wolverine, is the best there is at what they do.

Operating in Portage Park for the better part of 70 years, this family-owned establishment is home to Chicago’s last natural hardwood smokehouse. Lots of places boast about their taste being one-of-a-kind, but with Hagen’s that isn’t hyperbole. The market stocks a wide range of fresh and smoked fish,  as well as shellfish and other aquatic delicacies. Consider yourself a fisherman? Snag something at Montrose Harbor that you’re ready to devour? Bring your catch into the market and they’ll smoke it for you. This might be the one situation in life where it’s prudent to pay someone else to smoke what you score.

Not in the mood for fishing or cooking? That’s fine, as Hagen’s also offers an affordable and tasty carry-out menu featuring a bevy of fried foods. The spicy popcorn shrimp are my personal favorite, and damn if they don’t go perfectly with a side of hushpuppies. Both are fried in a batter whose recipe is a protected family secret and deserving of just as much praise as the smokehouse itself.

Hagen’s Market also carries a nice selection of Scandinavian goodies and other specialties, making it the perfect place to stop before a cookout or a homemade romantic dinner. After all, “seafood is lovefood.”

The Essentials:

Location: 5635 W. Montrose
Hours: 8am-10pm Mon-Thurs, 8am-Midnight Fri & Sat, 10am-8pm Sun
Telephone: 773-283-1944
Website: www.hagensfishmarket.com

Getting there:

Driving: Parking Lot
L: Blue Line, Jefferson Park exit
Bus: #78 Montrose bus, #85 Central bus

Gene Wagendorf III

About Gene Wagendorf III

Gene is a writer who has spent his entire quarter century of life as a resident of Chicago. When not exploring the city he can be found wandering flea markets and garage sales or having a cigarette between classes at Northeastern Illinois University, where he hopes to acquire a degree in the next quarter century. His favorite smells are old books and bowling alleys. His poetry (how embarrassing!) can be found in issues of Kill Poet, Ditch, Word Riot, O Sweet Flowery Roses and Vowel Movements.

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