Food & Drink

Go Fish at Pearl Tavern and Bow & Stern

A fresh catch of oyster joints

pearl tavern!

You’ve been shuck buddies for a while now, but you’re ready to dive deeper. Take the plunge with a pair of new restaurants that fly in fresh oysters on a near-daily basis. One feels Mad Men cool; the other, low-key boat party. Our prediction? You’ll find reasons to commit to both.

What: Pearl Tavern
The vibe: Swanky, postwork hangout in River North.
Lead divers: Owner Adolfo Garcia (Hubbard Inn) and chef Chris Lorenz (Pelago).
The digs: Step back in time at this refined spot, where hardwood floors and original ceilings live in harmony with Carrera marble, and back tables are treated to a sweeping view of the Chicago River.
Oyster order: Both coasts are represented with varieties like sweet yet creamy Miyagi from Tomales Bay, California, and briny, firm Baynes Sound bivalves from British Columbia.
Still hungry?
Fresh razor clams, scallops on the half shell with blood orange, and a lobster roll that melts in your mouth.
Coordinates: 180 North Wacker Drive, at Lake Street (312-629-1030 or pearltavern.com).

bow & stern

What: Bow & Stern
The vibe: Easygoing Noble Square dock house.
Lead divers: Owners Bryan Burrow, Jay Runnfeldt (The Drawing Room), and chef Brian Greene (The Savoy).
The digs: The space tells a nautical story — walls covered in wood, mirrors shaped like ship windows, and rope light fixtures — without being too over the top. Grab a seat at the raw bar to watch the magic happen.
Oyster order: A menu of eight to twelve options spans the Atlantic and Pacific: from Cape Cod’s clean Moon Shoals with a mineral finish to petite Kusshis (Japanese for “precious”) from the West. Every order of three comes with smoked tomato cocktail sauce and (our favorite) wasabi mignonette.
Still hungry? Crab and tuna tartare, scallops with pork belly, braised greens, date sauce and cherry quince marinade, plus an extensive beer menu.
Coordinates: 1371 West Chicago Avenue, at Noble Street (312-988-0644 or bowandsternoysterbar.com).

Photo: Courtesy of Pearl Tavern; Jody Grimaldi / Courtesy of Bow & Stern

1371 W Chicago Ave
@ Noble St
Chicago, IL 60642
180 N Wacker Dr
@ Lake St
Chicago, IL 60606