The taste of a perfect oyster can recall vivid memories of a summer vacation, a taste of home, or a memorable meal. Oyster bars throughout the United States bring that sense of ‘home’ to hungry travelers in search of a succulent raw bar. From the middle of bustling New York City to San Francisco out to Kingstown, Rhode Island, oyster bars come in many different forms, and we’ve rounded up the top 21 in America.
While most people associate oysters with summer, they’re actually at their peak of juiciness during the winter, making right now the best time to partake. Some oyster bars invoke the ocean, like the Hog Island Oyster Bar situated right on the bay in San Francisco, where you know the oysters are as fresh as they can be. Others are quintessential city oyster bars like the Grand Central Oyster Bar & Restaurant in New York City. Whether you’re running to catch a train or taking it easy after coming back home, this oyster bar couldn’t be more centrally located in Manhattan and has an astoundingly long list of daily oysters and raw bar treats.
Others are all about specials such as happy hours and oyster tasting menus. Hank’s Oyster Bar in Washington, D.C. offers a holiday oyster menu called “Feast of the Seven Oysters” and The Oyster House in Philadelphia has extensive specials like $1 oysters and $3 oyster shooters.
Over in the Windy City, GT Fish & Oyster has a great bar scene that only compliments its oyster selection. The bar offers daily specials, a wide variety of oysters, superb ambiance and a killer cocktail list. One of the best is the Electric Slide made with Nolet’s gin, Benedictine, maple and lemon.
While freshly shucked oysters are the real deal, some oyster bars elevate the oyster itself by incorporating them in other innovative dishes. At the John Dory Oyster Bar in New York, for example, hungry diners can try the oyster pan roast with uni butter crostini. At Casamentos in New Orleans, they’ve made famous the oyster loaf sandwich, a dish travelers come from all over the world to try. And at Boss Oyster in Florida, they're renowned for their fried oyster tacos.
In our search for America’s best oyster bars, we canvassed the country looking for oyster bars both traditional and innovative that offer great specials, a wide variety of oyster varieties, superb ambiance, and a commitment to serving the freshest, most delicious oysters on earth.