Summer's at its peak so if you haven't indulged in raw oysters yet, it's time to get your shuck on. In honor of National Oyster Day, here are some of the best places to slurp in 15 major markets around the U.S.
Atlanta: Kimball House
If you're looking for the best spot in Atlanta for oysters, you're going to head to Decatur, where you'll find the elegant New American restaurant Kimball House, handsomely situated in a former railroad depot. And it's not just the ambiance and daily-changing selection — which sees dozens of varieties from across the country — bringing in crowds. A weekday happy hour from 5-7 PM showcases the bivalves at half off. That means a little more cash on hand to spend on Kimball House's traditional absinthe service.
303 E. Howard Ave., Decatur; 404-378-3502
Austin: Quality Seafood
This Airport Boulevard fish counter has grown in popularity (and size) as a restaurant through the years, even adding a grill dedicated to oysters three years ago. Six different variations are offered, from the house grilled oysters with shallots, butter and Parmesan to New Orleans BBQ grilled oysters topped with green onion, cracked pepper, Cajun spices and chile sauce. Various oysters on the half shell are also available, but the grilled oysters are certainly not to be missed.
5621 Airport Blvd.; 512-452-3820
Boston: Row 34
Merroir affects the flavor of oysters just as terroir impacts the taste of wine. In the name of innovation, Skip Bennett, founder of Duxbury's Island Creek Oyster Farm, started letting some of his oysters mature in numbered racks off the bay floor; Row 34 is where the tweaked approach started. Thus was born a new variety, plus an eponymous restaurant in Fort Point that serves as a more casual sibling to Kenmore Square's Island Creek Oyster Bar. Flavor-wise Row 34 oysters are also a counterpoint to the buttery smoothness of the original Island Creek Oysters. They instead impart a more nutty, umami-filled flavor.
383 Congress Street; 617-553-5900
Chicago: GT Fish & Oyster
Chef Giuseppe Tentori's temple to seafood is an essential spot for any oyster-lover in Chicago. Get East and West Coast oysters straight up and bracingly fresh on the half shell, as part of a shellfish tower or deep-fried and crispy on po'boy sliders with kimchi and peanuts. GT also features a weekday oyster happy hour, wherein offerings like Pink Moon and Bras D'Or oysters are half-off.
531 N. Wells St.; 312-929-3501
Dallas: Proof + Pantry
Head to this New American favorite in One Arts Plaza to get your fix of fresh East Coast oysters on the half shell. These small morsels of sweet and lightly briny seafood are served with traditional accompaniments, including mignonette, cocktail sauce and wedges of lemon.
1722 Routh St., 214-880-9940
Denver: Stoic & Genuine
The ever-changing oyster selection here is fabulous, right down to the Long Island Stoics grown exclusively for chef-owner Jennifer Jasinski, exec chef Jorel Pierce and their team at this breathtaking seafood sanctuary in Union Station. An array of shaved ices from the granita bar, from cucumber-tarragon to litchi-sake, showcase those half-shells in high style.
1701 Wynkoop St.; 303-640-3474
Houston: Liberty Kitchen & Oyster Bar
Diners can find a wealth of bivalves from the Gulf Coast and beyond at this crisp and fresh locale including seasonal Wellfleet from Cape Cod and Connecticut Blue Point. Two hot options include the grilled oysters with bacon jam and jalapeño and the wood-grilled oysters with casino butter.
1050 Studewood Street; 713-802-0533
Los Angeles: Connie & Ted's
At Michael Cimarusti's West Hollywood ode to the East Coast seafood shack, oysters are the heart of it all (even the walls are covered with old oyster labels). The oyster bar is always busy, the ice topped with a wide variety of oysters from both coasts, the shuckers rarely at a halt. The Kumomotos, Fanny Bays, Beausoleils and myriad bivalves from Massachusetts to Vancouver, B.C. come bright and briny with mignonette and horseradish. At happy hour, get six for $10, along with other food and drink specials.
8171 Santa Monica, Blvd.; 323-848-2722
Chef-owner Danny Serfer turned a former 1930s gas station in Edgewater into this popular seafood haven with a rotating oyster selection — enjoy them raw or cooked with butter, bacon and brandy.
210 NE 18th St.; 305-374-4635
NYC: Cull & Pistol Oyster Bar
The sit-down full-service counterpart to Chelsea Market's mecca of seafood, The Lobster Place, this cozy oyster bar serves up a daily selection of 10 different offerings from all over the country including both East and West Coast varieties (and two raw clam selections as well). Wash 'em down with a local craft brew or a glass of chilled rose.
Chelsea Market, 75 Ninth Avenue; 646-568-1223
Philly: Oyster House
Even before this old-school joint got a makeover, their oyster happy hour was legendary. This Sansom Street stalwart packs in regulars with dollar oysters from a menu of East and West Coast offerings, a $5 daily punch, $3 drafts and $3 shooters that plop freshly shucked oysters into a shot of something boozy. Happy hour here runs from 5–7 PM on weekdays but pros know that heading in for bonus buck-a-shuck hours on Saturday from 9–11 PM is the way to go.
1516 Sansom St.; 215-567-7683
San Diego: Ironside Fish & Oyster
No visit is complete without something from the raw bar of this Little Italy restaurant featuring an ever-changing selection of fish and shellfish from the West and East Coasts. Approximately 1,500 oysters are served daily, and deliveries are made six times a week to meet that demand. When it comes to picking out a plate of bivalves, go with the chef’s choice like Holliewood Zen oysters from British Columbia.
1654 India St.; 619-269-3033
San Francisco: Hog Island Oyster Co.
Should we talk about the setting or the oysters first? Both are magnificent and together they make Hog Island Oysters Company's San Francisco oyster bar and restaurant the most important place to slurp away in the city. Hog Island is on the Ferry Building's Bay side, where the bustling restaurant, oyster bar and coveted outdoor tables boast superb water and Bay Bridge views. The oysters hail from Hog Island's farm at Tomales Bay, two hours north of the city (and lots of other guest oyster sources are available, too). Order a dozen or two, then round out the meal with a superb oyster stew or one of the fresh fish selections.
1 Ferry Building; 415-391-7117
Seattle: Salted Sea
This Columbia City spot has helped bring a little sass to the quaint Rainier Ave. with modern takes on classic cocktails (try the 98118 Paloma) and a solid lineup of seafood dishes from fish and chips (complete with smoked oyster mayo) to a fried oyster banh mi. Get there at 3 PM on any day and enjoy Minter sweet oysters for only $1 each. Can’t make it at 3? Come for late night happy hour, 9-11 PM Sunday-Thursday and 10 PM-midnight Friday and Saturday.
4915 Rainier Ave. S., 206-858-6328
Washington DC: Rappahannock River Oyster Co.
Located in Union Market, this is basically the local mothership for showcasing the oyster harvest of Rappahannock River Oyster Co., which not only supplies many local restaurants with fresh Virginia oysters but also can be credited with bringing about a Mid-Atlantic oyster revival. One of the owners, Travis Croxton, also has his hands in two other DC-area go-to spots for oysters — Eat the Rich in Shaw and Brine in Fairfax’s Mosaic District.
1309 Fifth St. NE; 202-544-4702