There’s Nothing Fishy About Red Snapper

Arts contributor Luke Laurence writes about Red Snapper, a hidden gem of Hyde Park


Red Snapper

The interior Red Snapper Restaurant in Hyde Park

By Luke Laurence, Arts Reporter

When I first came to Hyde Park, before even my freshman year, I was given some advice that I’ve stood by ever since. As the Uber turned off Lake Shore Drive, my father and the driver began making small talk, while I sat, mortified, as most high schoolers are when their parents talk to strangers for any extended length of time. “Man, you’re in Chicago, you have to try Girl and the Goat. It has this genius chef who takes goat and just…elevates it. Oh, and Red Snapper—that’s right here in Hyde Park. Easily the best food in the neighborhood.” He was right.

Red Snapper is one of those Chicago institutions with a 10-foot-long menu. At Red Snapper, you can get everything from gyros and Italian beef to catfish and, of course, the titular red snapper. At Red Snapper, almost everything not sandwiched in folds of greasy bread is battered and fried, served atop the traditional Southern slice of Wonder Bread. One such standout is the deep-fried jumbo shrimp. I don’t know what they dredge it in, but the taste is unique and sublime, and each one is the size of your finger. The saltiness of the batter perfectly complements the juiciness of the shrimp. Nothing on the menu comes à la carte—the jumbo shrimp are, like everything else, served with a full order of thick-cut fries and a plastic ramekin of either lemon pepper sauce or hot sauce, depending on your preferences.

Unlike much of early-to-bed Hyde Park, Red Snapper is open until midnight, and well past it on weekends, a godsend at that hour when your only other culinary option is a McDonald’s that refuses to allow in-person orders and is out of whatever you’re trying to order. Red Snapper is nestled in the same 53rd and Dorchester mini-mall that hosts Subway, Dominos, and Baskin-Robbins. Sophomore year, when I lived on 54th and Kimbark, I’d often make the trek to the restaurant at one or two in the morning. The restaurant is also the only place where I’ve ever been asked incredulously, upon tipping, “Did you mean to do that? You’re not from around here, are you?” Great food. 10/10. While some of Hyde Park’s newcomers are trying to give it a run for its money, Red Snapper continues to serve some of the best food in Hyde Park and remains criminally underappreciated among the student body. Also, it’s not a $40-a-plate restaurant inexplicably located in a school building. Lord knows we have enough of those.