You know that old saying about how you can only eat oysters in months that have an “R” in their name? Well, times - and food safety techniques - have changed. Now, there’s no bad time of year to enjoy a dozen oysters with the beverage of your choice.
But you shouldn’t settle for an oyster spot that doesn’t give a shuck. You want a legit selection of legitimately good oysters, served with some kind of alcohol, in a setting where you can sit by yourself (or with a friend) and house a bunch of shellfish without getting weird looks. In short, you want one of these spots - our picks for the best places to eat oysters in LA.
As one would expect by the name, this Los Feliz seafood shop is one of the best places in LA to find oysters. They’ve moved operations from their tight, disco ball-lit space to a new patio on the street, where you’ll have plenty of room to spread out and enjoy their excellent Little Namskaket oysters while basking in the bright-blue glow of the neighboring Scientology building. Many of them come from their enigmatic oyster shucker/server/GM, Joe Laraja’s family farm in Maine, and are tiny, sweet, salty, and about as clean-tasting as you’ll ever have. Order twice as many as you think you’ll want.
Not many people know this, but oysters are secretly the sleeper hit at Mariscos Jalisco. Sure, no order at the Boyle Heights truck is complete without their signature tacos de camaron, or a ceviche or two, but if you’re not throwing a few oysters in as well, you’re missing out. They only cost $1 a pop (from open to close, it’s no Happy Hour special), and arrive nice and plump on the half-shell, accompanied by a juicy lime slice. But our favorite way to eat them is in the campechana - served in a tall styrofoam cup, the rich tomato-based broth comes packed with an ocean’s-worth of shrimp, abalone, baby octopus, and a raw oyster. It’s a shrimp cocktail in its ultimate form: a little heat, a touch of 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 at least 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, 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 on 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.
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 Co. pops up every week at Smorgasburg and at MUNI Wines in Santa Barbara - but now, they’ve also got a (sort of) permanent space in a Malibu shopping center (they’re there until November 2019, at least). All the best stuff is caught nearby - including Channel Islands box crab, Santa Barbara uni, and Morro Bay oysters. Order a dozen (and maybe that box crab), get a glass of champagne, and sit by the window so you can watch the birds diving in Malibu Lagoon outside.
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.
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 quite possibly the best reason to come is their Oyster Hour: Every night, in the hour before closing, they serve $1 oysters. Their bar is a great place to eat them 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.
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 U.S., 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.
Breweries are normally the last places we’d go for raw seafood - unless we’re going to Imperial Western Brewing Company. This massive space used to be a train terminal, and it still looks a lot like one, except instead of benches and schedules, there are pool tables and beer lists. They’ve got kumiai oysters from Baja that are crisp and salty, and go great with a kolsch or sour brewed in-house. If you’re looking to branch out, they have fish and chips and mahi mahi tacos, both of which we also highly recommend.
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.
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 in 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 Picosita Margarita, a spicy jalapeño marg with both tequila and mezcal. Be careful driving home after one.
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 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.
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.
Messhall, the summer camp-themed restaurant on Los Feliz Blvd., has all kinds of delicious things cooked over a wood-fired grill. But unlike Camp Narragansett, where the closest thing you got to fresh seafood was questionable fish sticks, they’ve also got a huge raw bar, with a big variety of oysters. They’re $2 during the daily Happy Hour from 4-6pm, and $1 all night on Tuesdays.
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.