Where To Go When You Just Want Some Oysters guide image


Where To Go When You Just Want Some Oysters

Places where you can walk in and say "shuck me up."

Sometimes we want cold, plump, alarmingly fresh, briny-sweet oysters and nothing else. And for those occasions, we have a few ground rules. We need a legitimate selection of oysters (ideally, the server should tell you where they’re from), a cold glass of [INSERT DRINK OF CHOICE HERE], and a setting where you can order a dozen or more for yourself and no one will get concerned. In short, you'll want to be at one of these spots—the best places in LA for oysters.


Dear Jane’s

Reservations for this upscale seafood spot from the Dear John’s people can be a pain, but they do have a walk-in-only bar. Hidden behind a velvet curtain, the warmly lit room is full of people exchanging light banter while snacking on tuna tartare, caviar-topped fish sticks, and buttery platters of oysters Rockefeller. This narrow section of Dear Jane's feels like a portal from Marina Del Rey to a 1930s jazz club, and it’s the perfect place to enjoy oysters on the half shell with a crisp martini. Grab a velvet seat at the wooden bar, order a medley of tiny, sweet mollusks, and take in the scene. And maybe bring a friend (or a date) who can split the dockside $15 valet parking.

The Lonely Oyster in Echo Park is home to a small dining room that buzzes every night of the week with friend groups taking down seafood towers, solo diners eating burgers at the bar, and dates on the back patio drinking martinis and splitting cauldrons of mussels. The sustainably-sourced oysters, however, are the biggest standouts. You can order from the rotating list at any table, of course, but we recommend sitting at the bar where you’ll get a front-row seat with the shucking experts who’ll happily explain sourcing, flavors, and sustainable farming efforts happening up and down the West Coast.  

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 oyster bar in Long Beach has a little something for everyone. From platters 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. The sidewalk patio has so many string lights, you’ll feel like you’re eating under an old theater marquee. But if you’d rather sit inside, there's a long wooden bar where you can bring a date. If you can, stop by on a Monday night to take advantage of Liv’s half-off oyster deal.

At this seafood market/restaurant in Santa Monica, the focus is on sustainable sourcing and minimal waste. That means herbs and vegetables come from farmer’s markets, no plastic used, and a kitchen that works with local fisheries to find seafood that’s right for them. Which, on paper, sounds as much like a book report as it does a place to bliss out on seafood. But Crudo e Nudo knows how to deliver a good time: you’ll eat amazing oysters served with woven kelp strands, purple wildflowers, and a pink peppercorn limoncello mignonette that’s bright and floral. It’s fun, casual, and entirely cool—the kind of experience we usually just hope to manifest, rather than actually live.

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 an oyster or two to whatever you order. They sell them for a dollar or two a pop, but our favorite way to enjoy them is just ordering the campechana—a rich, tomato-based cocktail packed with an ocean’s-worth of shrimp, abalone, baby octopus, and one raw oyster floating on top. Perfection.

Dudley Market catches most of the seafood they serve at thier Venice restaurant on its own fishing boat. That’s a little bit tougher with oysters, but the shellfish here 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.

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 pricey spots on here, 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 at a discount during Happy Hour.

If your oyster philosophy favors quantity as much as quality, it doesn’t get much better than EMC. This bustling raw bar and restaurant on the ground floor of a giant Koreatown mall has a big menu of solid seafood-leaning dishes (the uni pasta is a must) and a crowd that won’t judge if you end up getting drunker than you'd originally planned. Almost every table here is going to have a big plate of raw oysters on it, especially during their daily Happy Hour when the bivalves go for $2 a pop. Are these the most amazing oysters in town? Maybe not, but they're always fresh, properly shucked—and unlike some other cheap oyster spots—sourced from a region that's specifically called out on the menu.

From the outside, Connie & Ted’s looks like a futuristic restaurant set amid 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 top-tioer 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.

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 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 deal–three oysters and a Mexican craft beer– but just go ahead and order a half-dozen. They go great with their michelada, which is clammy and excellent.

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.

Set amid the crowds and the urban commotion of Grand Central Market, The Oyster Gourmet is an unusual-looking, vaguely-steampunky small wooden stand designed to look like a giant open oyster shell. And as you might expect, they’ve really only got three things on the menu (besides wine)–and the one most 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.

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photo credit: Jakob Layman

Where To Go When You Just Want Some Oysters guide image