We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.
The latest reviews. The lowest prices. The perfect place to shop for hotels.

“Lake perch to die for!”
5 of 5 bubbles Review of Half Shell

Half Shell
Ranked #546 of 9,495 Restaurants in Chicago
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: $21 - $30
Cuisines: American, Seafood, Pub
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Bar scene, Families with children
Dining options: Dinner, Lunch, Full Bar, Seating, Serves Alcohol, Television, Waitstaff
Neighborhood: Lincoln Park
chicago, IL
Level Contributor
33 reviews
19 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 22 helpful votes
“Lake perch to die for!”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed May 19, 2013 via mobile

Our friends have been talking about this place for years and we finally made it here. As other reviewers have said, this is not a swanky, hip, or upscale restaurant by any stretch of the imagination. And if you want your server to do more than bring what you order, then you are best going somewhere else. Everyone in our group of 10 were very happy with their appetizers and entrees. Personally, once I saw the lake perch on the menu I knew what I was going to get. It is not often that I see lake perch on a menu (last I heard it cannot be commercially fished in the great lakes) and whenever I see it, I must get it. It was amazing!!!!!! Will definitely be going back to this little hole in the wall!

Visited May 2013
Helpful?
3 Thank giraffelover5271
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Write a Review

83 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
    49
    28
    4
    0
    2
Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • Italian first
  • Any
English first
Chicago, Illinois
Level Contributor
41 reviews
27 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
“Love this place!”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed December 16, 2012

The Half Shell is a cozy dive bar with great seafood! You walk downstairs to enter and you are always greeted with a friendly hello. They always have daily specials and usually have King crab legs available at a reasonable price. We visit this place several times a year just us or with friends. It's a small place so there aren't an abundance of tables so go early:).

Around the holidays, they have hot buttered rum. For years I turned my nose up but when we went recently i tried one. I asked our server what it tasted like and he said people say "Christmas." I braved up and tried it and it is lovely. It's hot, buttery, and brown sugary. Try it!

We always try to go before the dinner rush and they are cash only. They have an ATM on premises. I love their old fashioned cash registers.

A great hidden gem!

  • Visited December 2012
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
2 Thank Monica1124
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Denver, Colorado, United States
Level Contributor
15 reviews
7 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
“Love this place....”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed November 13, 2012

this restaurant feels like coming home. I have never been disappointed when coming to this place for over 25 years. Food is outstanding and you feel like you have stumbled on a real gem.

  • Visited September 2012
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
1 Thank Amy H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Kokomo, Indiana
Level Contributor
257 reviews
182 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 161 helpful votes
“Stepped Out Of My Shell And Into This One...”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed November 6, 2012

I learned of this place as a "Hidden Gem" from the Chicago-area exploration TV show "190 North". For a dear friend's birthday, we decided to check it out. The dining area is a narrow and recessed downstairs space that fills up fast and feels like a secret hideout that has amassed a cult following. The menu is simple but that suited me just fine, as I would discover that the Half Shell crew sticks to its guns to carefully prepare and proudly serve some of the best seafood around. The interior of the room has a transcending feel which combines a seaside eatery with a neighborhood pub that is also electrifying and eccentric. The atmosphere altogether is laid-back. The service was great and the food was greater. Seafood fans unite. This is one of the places that makes Chicago kick major tail on a bed of oyster shells.

  • Visited June 2012
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
2 Thank MrCrossIsBoss
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States
Level Contributor
63 reviews
60 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 26 helpful votes
“Don't Share - Keep it our best keep secret!”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed September 20, 2012

I almost don't want to write a review about this place because it is one of the best kept secrets in Chicago! Alas, I am sharing with you.

They are located down a half flight of steps and it is what some of you may call an absolute dive of a restaurant and bar. WHO CARES!?!?!? The food is fantastic and the prices are wonderful.

We started with the oysters on the half shell (gotta stick with the namesake of the restaurant) and no mistake was made there. The oysters were fresh and wonderful and that homemade cocktail sauce was the best I have had in a very long time. Kudos for going heavy on the horseradish!

For a main course we both decided the soft shell crab was the way to go. They were perfect. I was tempted to order more but that would have been just too much food. The table next to us got the king crab legs and they were huge!

The servers were friendly and the service was quick. Don't go in there expecting any five star dinner service with the best linens and china because you are going to get paper napkins and a plastic basket for some of the selections. What you are going to get is some of the best seafood in Chicago.

Prices are reasonable but be warned, stop at an ATM first because they are CASH ONLY!

There is a small outside dining area but the atmosphere of the interior is a wonderful trip to the past as it probably is as it was when they first opened there in 1968. They are busy so be prepared to wait for a table. So enjoy it and sit at the bar and order a drink from the past and live the atmosphere.

We will be back when we are in Chicago.

  • Visited July 2012
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
2 Thank 476ChrisP476
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Travelers who viewed Half Shell also viewed

 

Been to Half Shell? Share your experiences!

Write a Review Add Photos & Videos

Owners: What's your side of the story?

Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.

Claim Your Listing