Immerse your taste buds in a briny adventure as we unveil the Best Oysters in Chicago, where the city’s seafood scene reaches new heights. From classic raw bars serving the freshest catches to innovative culinary creations, these oyster havens redefine the art of indulging in these oceanic delights. Chicago’s diverse neighborhoods provide a tapestry of options, each offering a unique take on the flavors of the sea. Whether you’re a seasoned oyster enthusiast or a newcomer eager to explore, our curated list guides you through the top spots where every shuck is an experience in itself. Join us as we dive into the depths of Chicago’s oyster offerings, celebrating the exquisite flavors that make each bite a tribute to the sea in the heart of the Midwest.
Located right off the Chicago Riverwalk in The Loop, Prime & Provisions Steakhouse is an elegant traditional American steakhouse in a massive two-story dining space. The décor and menu harken back to glamorous steakhouses from the 1920s. Executive Chef and co-owner Joseph Rizza offers a classic menu of the finest steaks aged in an onsite aging room. The decadent menu has a shellfish and raw seafood menu with a selection of oysters from the East and West coasts. Oysters also come on their seafood tower. I loved the East Coast oysters served with numerous dipping sauces like cocktail, tartar, and a spicy ginger mignonette.
Shaw’s Crab House has been a River North favorite for fresh seafood in a classy, old-fashioned dining space since 1984. Shaw’s Crab House has two distinct dining experiences including a refined fine-dining dining room and a livelier cocktail and oyster bar. Shaw’s Crab House prides itself on providing the freshest seafood from both coasts. The menu is ingredient-driven, changing seasonally and according to the freshest available seafood. Along with lavish raw seafood platters and oysters on the half shell, Shaw’s also offers my favorite oyster dish: oysters Rockefeller. Their variation tops fresh oysters with spinach and Jarlsberg cream before baking them to perfection.
Avec Restaurant is a longstanding West Loop treasure for a creative fusion of Mediterranean gastronomy with Midwestern ingredients in a dining space worthy of Chicago’s reputation for unique architecture. The ultra-modern all-wood dining space is worth the visit alone, to say nothing of its exquisite locally sourced menu. While their seafood may not be locally sourced, avec Restaurant’s seafood dishes are creative takes on Mediterranean cuisine that revolve around roasting and grilling over an open fire or in a wood-burning oven. Oysters appear as oven-roasted appetizers with pickled mango and chives. I loved the nuttiness and smokiness that the roasting brought out in them.
Chop Shop is a butcher, deli market, steakhouse, and music venue inside a century-old auto body shop with a massive 6000-square-foot addition. They dry-age, cut, and cure all their meat, at the butcher shop, offering a world-class deli menu and steakhouse menu replete with a raw bar. Located in Bucktown, Chop Shop is a hip and friendly space to enjoy amazing food and live music or to pick up the best cuts of meat for your own dinner parties. Their steakhouse dinner menu features oysters on the half shell with apple mignonette and cocktail sauce. They were the perfect starter for a decadent butcher shop burger.
Fish Bar is a casual and festive seafood restaurant in Lakeview East, specializing in the cooking traditions of New Orleans and New England. Led by five-time James Beard Award-nominated Chef Michael Kornick, Fish Bar offers iconic NOLA and New England dishes that have garnered a spot on Food Network’s show Sandwich King. In addition to a classic raw bar with East and West coast oysters on the half shell, Fish Bar also has fried oysters served in a classic New Orleans po’boy with remoulade. I had a fried oyster po’boy with a cup of New England Clam Chowder to get a taste of the North and the South.
Located inside the posh River North retail mall along the Magnificent Mile, Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab is fine dining seafood and steakhouse in a stylish multi-room dining space. Joe’s originated in Miami, Florida, and still sources its stone crab, shellfish, and seafood from the Florida Gulf. They have an award-winning wine list and cocktail bar along with a kids’ menu, so you can dine in style with your family. The menu has Oysters Rockefeller, fried oysters, and raw oysters on the half shell for appetizers. I had a plate of fried oysters along with their signature Stone Crabs.
From James Beard Award semifinalist and Food Network’s Chopped champion Brian Jupiter, The Frontier is a Michelin-guide recommended wild game restaurant in Noble Square. The Frontier’s interior resembles a rustic gaming lodge in the Wild West, replete with old stone fireplaces, exposed wood-beamed ceilings, and Native American art. The Frontier’s menu is as adventurous and exotic as the west must have been to its first settlers, featuring alligator, venison, and other wild game species. Chef Jupiter uses his New Orleans upbringing to create a sumptuous Southern comfort menu. I loved the chargrilled oysters stuffed with garlic butter, bread crumbs, and parmesan cheese.
Originative in New York City’s East Village, The Smith is a hip and stylish New American restaurant and cocktail bar that now has locations in Washington and Chicago’s River North neighborhood. The Smith has a bustling, high-energy atmosphere and sleek and elegant interior design. It’s a great place for happy hours, power lunches, and boozy brunches. I went for their 3-6 pm Happy Hour for 2-dollar oysters and a tasty French 75 Slushie with gin, Prosecco, and lemon juice. They offer three variations of east coast oysters from Massachusetts on their raw bar menu, which you can get for lunch, brunch, and dinner.
Reminiscent of the swanky supper clubs of the 40s, Tortoise Supper Club is fine dining seafood and steakhouse in River North. Its old-school, dimly lit wooden interior with leather booths and candle-lit tables overlooking a stage evokes a romantic and timeless atmosphere. The concept of a dinner club is a dinner and a show, which the Tortoise Supper Club features with utmost authenticity. You can enjoy a fine-dining meal while watching the best live Jazz in the city. Their traditional steakhouse menu has fresh oysters on the half shell and Oyster Rockefeller small plates. I recommend the pan-seared sea scallops with springy green pea risotto, asparagus, and artichokes.
Located in an upscale contemporary dining space on Chicago’s Gold Coast, about a block from Oak Street beach, Hugo’s Frog Bar & Fish House is a beloved seafood restaurant with 25 years of service. Owned by famed restauranteurs Hugo Ralli and Steve Lombardo who opened the Chicago-famous Gibson’s Steakhouse, Hugo’s Frog Bar and Fish House offers the same world-class atmosphere and New American cuisine. As the name suggests, Hugo’s is famous for its frog legs. They also have two East Coast and two West Coast oyster selections. I recommend getting one of each variety to take advantage of the option to order them a la carte.
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