Phil Vettel recommends

Spots for seafood this week beyond oyster fest at Shaw's

If you're not joining the throngs gathering at Shaw's Crab House for this week's "Royster with the Oyster" celebration, here are a few other seafood specialists worth your attention:

Big & Little's (not rated) 939 N. Orleans St., 312-943-0000.
Winner of the Tribune's 2011 "Cheap Eater Restaurant of the Year," this tiny grill, manned by Gary Strauss (big) and Tony D'Alessandro (little) is the place to go for fish tacos, oyster po' boys, fish and chips, and plenty more. It's not all seafood; there are excellent burgers and the crazy-indulgent foie-gras french fries, as well. Sometime next month, Big & Little's will move across the street (860 N. Orleans St.), tripling its space and seating. Recommended: Soft-shell crab po' boy (when available), foie-gras fries. Open: Lunch and dinner Monday-Saturday. Prices: $3.75-$14. Credit cards: Cash only; on-site ATM. Reservations: Not accepted. Noise: Conversation-friendly.

Hugo's Frog Bar & Fish House (Three Stars) 1024 N. Rush St., 312-640-0999.
This Gold Coast hot spot (along with its suburban kin in Naperville and in the Rivers Casino in Des Plaines) is one of the most reliable seafood destinations in town. But carnivores aren't excluded; steaks and chops from Gibsons (sister property and next-door neighbor) are available at any time. Recommended: Crab cake, frog legs, turtle pie. Open: Dinner Monday-Sunday. Entree prices: $19.50-$51.75. Credit cards: A, DC, DS, M, V. Reservations: Strongly recommended. Noise: Conversation-challenged. Other: Wheelchair accessible; valet parking.

C-House (Two Stars) 166 E. Superior St., 312-523-0923.
The heralded Marcus Samuelsson (winner of 'Top Chef Masters' in 2010) is the name behind this seasonal restaurant tucked inside the Affinia Hotel, though executive chef Nicole Pederson is the hands-on, day-to-day force in the kitchen. The restaurant's former steak-and-seafood focus has given way to a locally sourced approach, but there are still eight to 12 varieties of oysters flown in daily (half from each coast, generally). Recommended: Hamachi tacos, oysters. Open: Dinner Monday-Sunday, lunch Monday-Friday, breakfast Monday-Sunday, brunch Saturday-Sunday. Entree prices: $24-$32. Credit cards: A, DC, DS, M, V. Reservations: Strongly recommended. Noise: Conversation-friendly. Other: Wheelchair accessible; valet parking.

GT Fish & Oyster (Three Stars) 531 N. Wells St., 312-929-3501.
Boka chef Giuseppe Tentori (that is, GT) proves adept at seafood at this River North hot spot (reservations extremely hard to come by), where customers receive take-home bottles of hot sauce at meal's end. But that's only after you delve into a feast of small-plate goodies, including first-rate oysters (half-price Wednesdays after 10:30 p.m.), fish tacos and more. Save room for Kady Yon's desserts, which are wonderful. Recommended: Mussels, crawfish with cannellini tortellini, lobster roll, crab legs, key lime pie, panna cotta. Open: Dinner Monday-Sunday, lunch Monday-Friday. Prices: Small plates $8-$22. Credit cards: A, DC, DS, M, V. Reservations: Strongly recommended. Noise: Conversation-challenged. Other: Wheelchair accessible; valet parking.

Fulton's on the River (Three Stars) 315 N. LaSalle St., 312-822-0100.
With its riverside location and historic charm (inside the Reid Murdoch building), Fulton's looks every bit the sophisticated steak and seafood restaurant. Prime steaks and wagyu beef highlight the meat offerings; shipped-daily oysters (eight varieties, on average) anchor the seafood options. In summer, the bi-level riverside patio is one of the most sought-after destinations in town. Recommended: Oysters, seafood tower, wagyu strip loin. Open: Dinner Monday-Saturday, lunch Monday-Friday. Entree prices: $25-$75. Credit cards: A, DC, DS, M, V. Reservations: Recommended. Noise: Conversation-friendly. Other: Wheelchair accessible, valet parking.

Catch 35 (Two Stars) 35 W. Wacker Drive, 312-346-3500.
Housed in the Leo Burnett building, this restaurant is known for preparing its seafood with an Asian accent, though you'll also find Gulf redfish with sweet-potato hash, swordfish Oscar and Parmesan-crusted whitefish on the menu. Oysters, all from the East Coast, are brought in daily. Proximity to Loop theaters means the dining room is crammed with pre-performance diners; things calm down a bit after 8 p.m. Open: Dinner Monday-Sunday, lunch Monday-Friday. Entree prices: $17.95-$64.95. Credit cards: A, DC, DS, M, V. Reservations: Strongly recommended. Noise: Conversation-friendly. Other: Wheelchair accessible; valet parking (complimentary pre-theater valet).

Ratings key:
Four Stars: Outstanding
Three Stars: Excellent
Two Stars: Very good
One Star: Good
No stars: Unsatisfactory
The reviewer makes every effort to remain anonymous. Meals are paid for by the Tribune.

pvettel@tribune.com

Twitter @philvettel
CHICAGO

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