There’s an old rule, “Only eat oysters during months with an ‘R’ in the name.” It supposedly has to do with harvesting, warming, and spawning, but luckily, times—and food safety techniques—have changed for the better. Now, the sweet mollusks can be enjoyed year-round, even in outlandish months like May and August.
Does that mean all oysters are equal? Absolutely not. You’ll need a legitimate selection (ideally, the server should tell you where they’re from), a cold glass [INSERT DRINK OF CHOICE HERE], and a setting where you can order a dozen for yourself and no one will get concerned. In short, you want one of these spots — the best places in LA for oysters.
As one would expect, this Los Feliz seafood shop is one the best places in LA to find oysters. They’ve moved operations from their tight, disco ball-lit space and expanded into a new patio on the street, where you’ll have room to enjoy their excellent Little Namskaket oysters and bask in the glow of the neighboring Scientology building. Many come from their enigmatic general manager’s family farm in Maine, and are sweet, salty bites that taste so clean, you’d think the kitchen installed a pipeline to the ocean. Order twice as many as you think you’ll want.
This exciting new oyster bar in Long Beach has a little something for everyone. From a platter of sweet and briny mollusks on ice and a fried oyster caesar salad to a mountain of fries covered in creamy seafood chowder, Liv’s in Belmont Shore isn’t afraid to let shellfish be the star of nearly every dish on the menu. The sidewalk patio has so many string lights, you’ll feel like you’re eating under an old-school theater marquee. But if you’d rather sit inside, Liv’s long wooden bar is the perfect place to bring a date (and your own bottle of wine while it’s still BYOB). If you can, stop by on a Monday night to take advantage of Liv’s half-off oyster deal. And follow their Instagram for the latest on pop-ups and events, like a fried oyster pie collaboration with one of our favorite pizza places in the city, Little Coyote.
At this seafood market/restaurant in Santa Monica, they focus on sustainable sourcing and minimal waste. That means herbs and vegetables come from farmer’s markets, there’s no plastic used, and the kitchen works with local fisheries to find seafood that’s right for them. Which, on paper, kind of sounds like a book report. But you’ll eat oysters served with woven kelp strands, a pink peppercorn limoncello mignonette that’s bright and floral, and purple wildflowers. It’s fun, casual, and entirely cool—the kind of experience we usually just hope to manifest, rather than actually live.
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Not many people know this, but the oysters at Mariscos Jalisco are incredible. Of course, no visit is complete without their signature tacos or ceviches, but next time you’re here, add in an oyster or two. They sell them for $1 a pop, but our favorite is the campechana—a rich, tomato-based stew packed with an ocean’s-worth of shrimp, abalone, baby octopus, and one raw oyster. It’s shrimp cocktail in its ultimate form: a little heat, acidity, and again, one raw oyster.
As anyone with an insatiable oyster addiction can attest, falling in love with the sweet little mollusk comes at a price. Namely, having to pay $2-$4 for what can be described as “a bite” at most, then needing a dozen of them at a time. Get the best of both worlds at Tokyo Hamburg. Not only is this rowdy Japanese restaurant in Ktown one of our favorite places to spend a Friday night or impress out-of-towners, but they’ve also got one of the best Happy Hours in town. It runs all day and includes a wide range of sake, draft beer, and $1 oysters, which means you can have plenty of fun while saving up to finally buy a cool rug. Why are they so expensive?
Neptune’s Net is perhaps one of the greatest places… on this planet? This oceanside shack on the side of PCH is where we go for everything from a post-beach meal to a last snack before we leave the city. And that’s not even necessarily because of the food–the clam chowder bread bowl is an absolute delight, but the fried clam strips and other menu items aren’t really anything to write home about. No, what you’re here for are the throngs of biker gangs, direct views of the crashing waves, and freshly shucked oysters seasoned with a touch of ocean mist that makes you feel like you’ve stumbled upon a brief little moment that exists outside of reality.
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Venice’s Dudley Market catches most of the seafood they serve on their own fishing boat. That’s a little bit tougher with oysters, but the shellfish are still sourced locally from Morro Bay. They come with a really good champagne mignonette and go great with their massive list of natural wines. This place is bright and airy, and remains shockingly tourist-free for how close it is to the beach (if you’re sitting in the right seat, you can see the water). They’ve also got some of the friendliest staff around.
Broad Street Oyster Company is a fantastic seafood shack in Malibu that’s filled with so many oysters, mussels, shrimp, and uni you’ll wonder if their “local source” is actually the Aquarium of the Pacific. Here, the sunny Malibu coast glistens, the salty sea air kisses your skin in a way that feels like it’s hitting on you, and Broad Street will hook you up with a world-class selection of fresh oysters served over crushed ice.
L&E Oyster Bar
A lot of places that call themselves “oyster bars” are anything but. Not L&E–they have an actual oyster bar upstairs, and they’re shucking a wide variety of excellent oysters from both coasts. It’s one of the more expensive spots on here (usually $4 per oyster), but you’re guaranteed the highest quality of oysters from Wellfleet, Hood Island, and more. They’ve also got great cocktails (our preference with oysters is a French 75) and offer a half-dozen oysters for $18.
Connie And Ted's
From the outside, Connie and Ted’s looks like a futuristic restaurant in Boystown. But on the inside, it’s a classic New England seafood shack. This place is good for a lot of things (including one of the best burgers in LA), but their bar is also a great place to eat oysters while you watch the Dodgers–they’ve got an avid fanbase, including some seriously high-profile celebrities, so you can tell your friends that you technically ate oysters with Charlize Theron yesterday.
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Close your eyes at Rappahannock Oyster Bar, and you can practically hear the boats and birds of the Chesapeake Bay. They’ve got a great patio at the Row in DTLA that’s shaded by a huge tree, making it the ideal place to eat the absolutely fantastic Virginia oysters grown at the restaurant’s own farm east of Richmond. They have three different kinds–our favorites are the Rochambeau, which are a bit sweet, but still have the brininess associated with East Coast oysters. Their kimchi mignonette is one of our favorites in the city, too.
As the name might imply, this spot on the Redondo Pier takes seafood very seriously. It’s basically a fish market with a huge, multi-level dining room, and when you want to order oysters, you grab a sheet of paper, mark what you want, and hand it over for them to shuck. They source their oysters from all over the globe, including both coasts of the US, New Zealand, and Scotland. If you really want to taste oysters from around the world, but don’t feel like dusting off your passport, this is the best place to do it.
Ceviche Project is the Silver Lake destination for all things raw seafood, and you can see why: their kanpachi and shrimp tostadas are inventive and fantastic, and if we go too long without having their scallop shooters, we start to have extremely weird shellfish-related dreams. And even though we recommend having a full meal here, the oysters more than live up to the rest of the menu–the house-made mignonette is spicy, but still lets the briny Bajas shine. They do have a great Happy Hour–three oysters and a Mexican craft beer for $10 – but just go ahead and order a half-dozen. They go great with the michelada, which is clammy and excellent.
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Maestro is an excellent upscale Mexican restaurant in Pasadena filled with suburbanites and SUV enthusiasts celebrating one thing or another with huge pieces of meat. But at the bar, you’ll find folks drinking great cocktails and ordering smaller plates like tacos and oysters. And those oysters are unique in LA–they come with an incredibly spicy aquachile and huge hunks of shrimp on top. They go particularly well with the especially strong Picosita Margarita, a spicy jalapeño marg with both tequila and mezcal.
The last place you’d expect fantastic oysters is an (almost) entirely pink Downtown bar that serves alcoholic slushies. But High Tide is full of surprises, especially the excellent oysters, crab dip, and shrimp cocktail. This place is extremely on-trend–again, it’s all pink, and there’s a glassblowing studio on the patio–but it has the soul of a dive bar, with a big beer list, friendly bartenders, and a crowd of regulars. Somehow, it all works... even those slushies go pretty damn well with some oysters.
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Fishing With Dynamite
An awesome Manhattan Beach seafood spot the size of a studio apartment, Fishing With Dynamite is the best place to go in the South Bay for oysters and a beer. They’ve got a great selection, from a few different Cape Cod varieties to ones from Baja and Morro Bay. The raw scallops with grapefruit are also highly worth your time, if you’re in need of even more things served on the half shell.
Something about the crowds and the massive urban space of Grand Central Market makes us think we shouldn’t eat raw seafood there. But The Oyster Gourmet proves us wrong every time. They’ve really only got three things on the menu (besides wine)–and the one worth your time is the plate of oysters. The selection constantly changes, and the shuckers are super knowledgeable–so even if you don’t know the difference between a Blue Point and a Wellfleet, they’re always happy to help you figure out what you’ll like.