**Note: This restaurant is closed as of Summer 2017. I leave this post up and published as a homage to what was truly a smoked fish culinary paradise**
Every once in a while — every once in a rare while — you meet a restaurant that instantly steals your heart …
That pulls you into its entrancing world and doesn’t let you go again.
The sort of restaurant that inspires you with the art and beauty of eating. With the true pleasure an excellent meal can bring to life.
As a firm lover of food and it’s artistry, I’ve always believed in the power of a good meal. And I search for it quite obsessively.
And, more often than not, am disappointed with what I find. Except on the rare occasion when I truly find a culinary gem…
Snaggletooth, a restaurant that combines all things seafood with all things Midwest, is a “small counter-service, seafood-centered restaurant” that defies all expectations. It’s tiny, cozy, and run by only TWO people.
And with a motto like “fish. teas. schmears.” you HAD to know its food would be truly obsession-worthy. Walk in the doors and you’ll immediately understand why this place tugs on my foodie heartstrings so…
Snaggletooth is the very definition of a family-run establishment. It’s small — tiny by most Chicago standards. And, with a welcome eating area up the stairs and above the open-kitchen, this is the sort of unpretentious spot you’ll want to sink into for the day. And never leave…Snaggletooth has earned a serious reputation for delicious nosh, most of which circles around their house-cured fish. They cure all sorts of options (Pastrami Trout, anyone?) with hand-cut herbs in-house — most of which you can order by-the-pound to-go too. But perhaps the sexiest thing you’ll find in this tiny spot is their Schmear Bar! An entire schmear buffet… Complete with jams and all sorts of fresh-flavored cream cheeses (my favorite is the addictive kimchi option!). The perfect accompaniment to their cured fishes and fresh bagels, wouldn’t you say? One of the first things you MUST order is this humble-looking pot of Chia Yogurt and Granola.
It may not look terribly exciting (I’ve never been much of a yogurt & granola fan myself) but it’s quite honestly one of the most delicious things I’ve had all summer. If you like a more traditional chia pudding than this fresh option of orange blossom greek yogurt, chia & flax seeds, homemade jam, fresh fruit, and moroccan granola will absolutely WOW you.
I never thought I’d actually recommend yogurt and granola as a MUST TRY at any restaurant, but take my word on this one — you WON’T want to miss this dish.Snaggletooth also offers some great, rotating tartine options too.
On our visit we had this smashing shrimp & egg tartine which was fresh and creamy — a great compliment to the yogurt!
On Snaggletooth’s usual menu you’ll find a pastrami trout tartine with kimchi schmear and shaved fennel slaw.
Which will single-handedly ruin you for bagels & lox anywhere else in Chicago.
No joke. The kimchi schmear gives the saltiness of the cured fish a well-rounded spicy kick that’s positively addicting!But, on your first visit, if you order nothing else at Snaggletooth, order the Complete Cured Fish Tasting.THIS is how you try Snaggletooth! A chef’s assortment of cured fishes all presented beautifully like a painter’s palette.
Options generally include:
gravlax trout with citrus, dill, parsley, white rum or
pastrami trout with fennel seed, black pepper, coriander or jasmine trout with jasmine blossom, ice wine elixir, elderflower or lime hamachi with mint, cilantro, mezcal, coriander or spring fennel fluke with pacific fluke, grapefruit, fennel fronds or bbq sturgeon with lapsang souchong, coriander seed (which has a remarkably subtle smokiness thanks to the lapsang tea).I love the chef’s selection because you get to try ALL the cured fish options at once.AND the selection comes with bagels you can schmear up at the schmear bar too. I highly recommend pairing your cured fish with a delicious fresh bagel smeared with kimchi schmear! It gives just the right creamy kick to compliment the herbiness and smokiness of the cured fish.But if fish isn’t your thing, Snaggletooth always offers rotating non-fish options too.
Like this positively addicting Shakshouka (baked eggs in sauce) served with toast points.
Which was almost too pretty to eat!I can think of few restaurants in the past year that have wooed my with their simple humility and divine culinary concoctions like Snaggletooth.
On their website, Snaggletooth says
“We want you to fall in love with us. With fish. Hook. Line. Sinker.”
Mission accomplished Snaggletooth, mission accomplished.
Hook. Line. Sinker.