From buck-a-shuck oysters at a romantic champagne hideaway to seafood towers at a swank downtown hub, Chicago has plenty of places to enjoy the ocean's most coveted bivalves and their spiny brethren. In no particular order, here are seven of our favorite raw bars with which you ought to get acquainted.
RM Champagne Salon, West Loop
You already know about the bottles of sparkling and exquisite cheese program, so RM Champagne Salon's best-kept secret may be its buck-a-shuck oysters between 5 and 8 p.m. on Tuesdays. Enjoy yours straight up with a bit of lemon, cocktail sauce and mignonette. And guess what pairs best with oysters? Bubbles.
The Savoy, Wicker Park
This whimsical raw bar and absinthe den serves everything from pickled oysters and caviar ($16) to tuna tartare ($12) and ceviche ($10). Enjoy it all while taking in the stunning art collection that depicts the Cinderella story.
Kinmont, River North
Despite its gentlemen's lodge vibe and fresh-off-the-hook seafood, waders are not required for entry at Kinmont. Choose from a curated selection of East and West Coast oysters ($38 for a dozen, $19 for a half-dozen), or fall (hook, line and sinker) for the Skuna Bay salmon tartare with cornichons, shallots, mustard and crisp bread ($11).
Shaw's Crab House, Near North Side
Happy hour isn't just about drinks at this seafood institution: Monday through Friday, between 4 and 6 p.m., score half-price shucked-to-order oysters ($15 for a dozen, $7.50 for a half-dozen) on the half shell and an oyster shooter cocktail ($10) with aquavit and fino sherry to match.
The Publican, West Loop
The Publican is an equal-opportunity bivalve supporter, as evidenced by its diverse bicoastal selection of oysters ($3 each; $15 for a half-dozen, $30 for a dozen) and briny clams on the half-shell ($2 each).
Vera, West Loop
Slurp a case of the Mondays away with six-for-$6 fresh oysters and a sherry or vintage Madeira apéritif at this downtown Spanish tapas gem. We like to follow the little shuckers up with grilled octopus and churros.
Maude's Liquor Bar, West Loop
Brendan Sodikoff's swank two-story French restaurant is home to some of the most handsomely presented oysters in all the land, but it's the chilled seafood tower ($175)—overflowing with oysters, clams, shrimp, mussels, crab legs and more—that really steals the show. A voracious appetite and/or several friends is strongly recommended.
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