Best Places to Find Great Seafood

There's something about biting in to a fresh fish sandwich. Or enjoying a plate of scallops, salmon or other seafood delights at a local restaurant.

It's that time of year again when we all want to enjoy a healthy fish meal and, at the same time, honor the Lenten season.

The tradition of Lent coupled with the German Catholic immigrant culture of the region has brought creative, unique, and most importantly -- tasty seafood dishes to southwest Illinois. From seafood pizzas to Guinness steamed clams and everything in between it's easy to find the perfect seafood dish.

Here is a list of all the mouthwatering creations in the area to check out:

Alton & Grafton

O’Jan’s Fish Stand in Grafton offers a more traditional take on fish with their freshly fried fish sandwiches and fillets. All of these fish are the freshest of fresh and caught locally daily. O'Jan's offers the choice of catfish, buffalo, cod, Alaskan whitefish, or tilapia. If you are lucky you might find fresh smoked sturgeon available.

In Alton The Brown Bag Bistro is offering a lent special. The over-engineered Crustacean Sensation has dill pickle relish, crab and shrimp meat with red onion and celery mixed in a creole chili pepper sauce, served on a garlic butter toasted ciabatta hoagie. The description alone makes the mouth water in anticipation.

Morrison’s Irish Pub has a broad menu of dishes for a fish Friday. You can pick from a Guinness battered cod, a whiskey glazed salmon or Guinness steamed mussels. Co-owner of Morrison’s Irish Pub Katie notes, “The smell alone can drive ya crazy,” when speaking about Guinness steamed mussels. She adds, “(the mussels are) Only ran as a special and when people find out they come in just for that. With everything that has happened, it is a good time to come together and remember what is important.”

Celebrate the Lent with a nice night out at Castelli’s Restaurant at 255 in Alton where a seafood menu provides the choice of a perfectly char-grilled lightly seasoned salmon filet with vinaigrette dressing, or lobster tails baked or fried and served with delicious golden butter.

The Crustacean Sensation sandwich at Brown Bag Bistro features shrimp and crab meat tossed in a dill pickle relish with chopped red onion and celery blended with a creole chili pepper sauce.

Carrollton, Hardin, & Jerseyville

In Carrollton, Alfonso’s Pizza is offering up a less traditional seafood option—the seafood pizza. Enjoy something different on your pie with shrimp and crab meat seasoned with lemon and garlic, topped with a combination of feta, parmesan, provel, and mozzarella cheese.

Take a trip back to the past at The Hardin Drive-in. Every Friday, a special of catfish fritters or buffalo fritters is on the menu. For more variety try the butterfly or popcorn shrimp there as well.

For a larger selection of seafood, Charcoal House Tavern in Jerseyville, offers sea scallops that have been pan seared and topped with a lemon butter sauce. Or try a pan seared salmon filet, glazed in a choice of mango habanero sauce or a lemon white wine sauce. Keep it classic with catfish fritters with white or rye bread and tartar sauce.

Charcoal House Tavern scallops entree

Benld, Carlinville, & Hillsboro

Put an Italian spin on the German tradition and head out to JoDanni’s Amore in Benld. JoDanni’s has Italian-inspired dishes like seafood ravioli, stuffed with shrimp scallop and lobster meat served with both fresh tomatoes and a rose cream sauce. Check out the lemon pepper seasoned Atlantic Cod, or a shrimp scampi both dishes served with fettucine pasta.

Support a newly opened restaurant and have a Friday Lent dinner at Tobias Public House in Hillsboro. Enjoy a massive 10 ounce beer battered cod fillet fried to a golden brown served with either potatoes coleslaw or hush puppies. If a sandwich is more your speed, then you are in luck -- that same perfectly golden brown cod can be served on a sandwich. Tobias Public House also has classic fish and chips -- a juicy Pollock battered and fried till golden. The Uptown Tavern in Carlinville can also offer a take on Lent classics. Try the battered cod, lager breaded popcorn shrimp, and county fair fish square -- all served in a classic basket with crinkle cut fries and coleslaw.

Enjoy The Uptown Tavern's classic fish basket while in Carlinville.

Dorsey, Hamel, & Worden

To find the biggest variety of fish look no further than the Prairie Inn and the Yellow Dog Café and Bar. The Prairie Inn in Dorsey offers cod, clam strips, Alaskan white fish, catfish, buffalo, butterfly shrimp, and crab cakes. The Yellow Dog Café and Bar and Bar in Worden offers a similarly vast selection to suit any taste such as, buffalo, catfish, Alaskan white fish, cod, and tilapia. All can be fried or grilled.

Weezy’s Route 66 Bar & Grill in Hamel has a Friday fish special featuring cod or catfish plates with a choice of two sides. Owner of both Weezy’s and The Other Place on the Hill, Karen Wiesemeyer says, “We are blessed with great business at both Weezy’s and The Other Place on the Hill and every Friday we offer our fish special. We run a fish special every Friday, but also have catfish and cod fritters on the menu all the time.”

Catfish Fritters at Weezy's Route 66 Bar & Grill