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If you work in the Loop, hobnobbing with colleagues over chilled seafood towers and expensive Champagne is one job perk you’ve never been opposed to. (Where did those expense accounts go?)

And now you don’t have to wait for an occasion to indulge. Pearl Tavern, an elegantly relaxed new oyster bar, has just opened in the heart of the corporate web on Wacker Drive, and it’s casual enough for spontaneous after-work drinks or laid-back fish tacos at lunchtime.

The owners have done a beautiful job renovating what was once a rowdy Midwestern dive (remember Coogan’s? We didn’t think so. Angular brass chandeliers, a thick marble bar and stenciled mermaids floating dreamily across the ceiling finally do the prime riverside location justice. (Look for a big patio by the water this spring.) 

We loved snagging seats at the bar and ordering plates of very cold, very fresh oysters from the East and West coasts (about $3 each) and sipping old-school cocktails like the Aviation (Tanqueray gin, crème de violette, Luxardo cherry liqueur and lemon served over a heaping mound of crushed ice). 

And if you are entertaining clients, usher them to a banquette table in the back dining room and treat them to oh-so-Chicago views of the Green Line train gliding over the river. 

Who said anything about a “Third Coast?”

Pearl Tavern, 180 N. Wacker Dr.; 312-629-1030 or

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