Chicagoans are total shuckers for oysters, apparently. Just in time for the end of oyster season (any month with an r in its name), spots to slurp down bivalves from both coasts have popped up all over, including restaurant raw bars and grocery store snack counters.
Not much varies in presentation from place to place—oysters on the half shell in ice, with cocktail sauce, vinegary mignonette, or a squeeze of lemon juice. What does vary slightly is freshness and how well they’re shucked. Here’s a sampler platter of what’s recently washed ashore:
- GT Fish & Oyster cracked the trend wide open in 2011. For the cleanest shells and the most pristine flavor, the world is still GT’s oyster. (531 N. Wells St., 312-929-3501)
- Bow & Stern Oyster Bar recently started spooning smoked tomato cocktail sauce onto briny Fanny Bays (1371 W. Chicago Ave., 312-988-0644)
- Pearl Tavern is a brand new spot where you can suck down massive WiAnnos all the way from Cape Cod. (180 N. Wacker Dr., 312-629-1030)
- Eataly’s Il Pesce is a good place to toss a few back while you pass the interminable wait for a table elsewhere in the megamart. (43 E. Ohio St., 312-521-8700)
- Mariano’s West Loop location sells them by the piece. Get a few before braving the aisles. (40 S. Halsted St., 312-243-7657)