Troha’s may be Chicago’s oldest shrimp house, but it lured customers with cheap beer and chili when it opened in 1920. When chili meat became scarce during the Great Depression, Troha’s had to serve smoked and fresh fish instead. After a 1935 trip to New Orleans, the Troha family got hooked on shrimp and permanently deleted chili and beer from its menu. Run by third- and fourth-generation family members today, the restaurant’s interior crawls with dusty nautical bric-a-brac, including an oar with fading blue paint, a model of a multimasted sailing ship and conch shells.
For more than 80 years, Troha’s has perfected the golden, lightly battered, fried shrimp, which are some of the best in Chicago. If you’re not fond of shrimp, try the fried chicken made true to its 1959 recipe. Its special ingredient remains a secret, but here’s a hint: The woman who runs the cash register has the word “love” tattooed on her hand.
Troha’s Shrimp House; 4151 W. 26th Street, Chicago (773) 521-7847