Clam Up

Raw clams are worth searching out

Step aside, oysters. It's time for another raw bivalve to get some love.

As shellfish bars proliferate, the humble clam on the half shell hasn't gotten much attention. In fact, we could find only a few places in town even serving them.

Much like oysters, there are a ton of varieties: Some (razor clams) are sweet, while others (Hama Hama) are mild and savory (because they're grown in brackish river water).

So why should you seek out raw clams? "A lot of people don't chew on oysters. I like giving a clam a good chew," explains Publican chef Cosmo Goss.

In other words, you get more flavor from a raw clam if you're willing to work a little harder. Don't just slurp them down–they're best when savored, not guzzled. Preferably ice cold, with a sip of champagne.

Razor clams at The Publican

Here are some of our favorite spots for raw clams on the half shell:

The Publican. Known for its oyster selection, The Publican recently introduced a rotating selection of clams. They stock three kinds a night, including chef Goss's favorite, the Old Salt Middleneck from Virginia.

Eataly. Order a half-dozen raw clams at the crudo counter, down them, and walk away fortified for more hardcore shopping. On our last visit, we found tiny Littleneck clams, sweet and salty.

The Half Shell. Hiding inside this old-school dive is one of the only real oyster bars in Chicago–and they serve a mean clam. They usually stock Cherrystones, which are a bit tougher and usually served cooked. You'll likely have to give them a good chew. They'll also throw a half-dozen on the fire if you ask.