Grilled Oysters Have Never Been Hotter

Oysters have never been hotter in Chicago. And I mean “hot” figuratively, of course, considering a vast majority of buzzy new oyster dishes and seafood spots are of the the raw half-shell persuasion. But lately Chicago has seen a surge in cooked oysters, particularly grilled and smoked bivalves. If you’re looking to branch out from chilled seafood towers and raw platters, here are several spots in Chicago cooking up sensational oyster dishes. 


Oyster Bah
Oyster Bah; photo by Anjali Pinto

Chicago Oyster House: This unassuming seafood spot, nestled amidst the high rises on a quiet stretch of the South Loop, is rightfully renowned for their char-grilled oysters. One of their signature items, the oysters are available in multiple variations. This includes the namesake C.O.H. oysters with garlic, cilantro, and Parmesan; the Ichi oysters with jalapeño, scallions, ginger, and soy; the Firecracker with spices, basil, and fresh lime; or the classic-inspired Rockefeller with spinach, butter, and cheese. 

El Che Bar: One of the hottest and most addictively delicious openings of 2016, El Che Bar does a lot of things really well. This is certainly true of their grilled Delaware oysters, which arrive piping hot and pungently smoky with soubise, sweet potato, crispy leeks and brown butter crumbs. 

Oyster Bah: Leave it to a restaurant with “oyster” in its name to perfect the seafood model. In addition to a dizzying variety of raw, fresh shellfish, the Lincoln Park bastion also has grilled oysters with garlic-herb butter and breadcrumbs for a bit of added crunch.  

Roister: Exhibiting a knack for inventiveness, Roister’s oysters are smoked and made with garlic butter and breadcrumbs, lending a deep, heady undertone to contrast the innate salinity. 

Girl & the Goat: This perpetual West Loop hot spot has been cooking oysters and setting trends for quite a while now. In fact, there’s a whole section of the menu here devoted to oysters, which offers the shellfish raw, fried, or wood-fired. 

Frontier: Perhaps best known for their whole-animal service and uncommon proteins like alligator and boar, Frontier also features a mean char-grilled oyster. Tapping into his New Orleans roots, chef Brian Jupiter features char-grilled oysters with Creole butter, Parmesan, breadcrumbs, and chives. 

- Matt Kirouac