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in Lincoln Park or Diversey on the Brown line

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Half Shell

View Map676 W. Diversey Pkwy., Chicago
Tel: (773) 549-1773
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Editorial Review of Half Shell

Want a peek at what Lakeview was like before gentrification reared its perfectly coifed head? Do dinner at Half Shell, an opened-in-'68 seafood spot that doesn't rely on formalities like proper wine pouring (your bottle comes opened; swirling and sniffing isn't the practice du jour) and oh-so-hip dishware (red baskets do the trick most of the time).

Set back from the street a bit, the handful of tables front a narrow stairway that leads to a dark, subterranean pub. Summertime visits are best though: Hover along the chain link fence until it's your turn for a table (you can generally order a drink while you wait) and then set up're in for a tummy-stuffing session. Seafood here isn't gourmet or particularly heart-healthy. The majority of the good stuff comes fried, save the delicious snow crab legs, which arrive in such a huge portion that two could have trouble.

You'd assume oysters would be the highlight given the name, but this oyster-lover was none-too-impressed with the Blue Points (the only variety on the menu), though my diner-in-crime assured me that the half-shell delicacy is served warm and a bit fishy in New Orleans and the Florida Keys, as they were here.

The "32" is a heaping jumble of frind shrimp, perch, frog legs, smelts and clams, with fries and white bread buried somewhere underneath. Each dish also comes with a lollipop tucked inside, though after a mountain of shrimp cocktail, mussels and fried delights, even a simple sucker could seem too great an obstacle for your more-than-satisfied stomach. Cash only.

Centerstage Reviewer: Kate Schwartz

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11:30 a.m-11 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-11:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday; Sunday Noon-11 p.m.

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chicago, metromix