Soarin’ Over California is the best ride at Disneyland. You take your seat in front of a giant screen, your whole body is strapped down, and within seconds you’re whisked off on a virtual parasail ride over California that includes getting sprayed in the face with something that smells like oranges. The ride doesn’t have crazy drops or upside down loops, but for five minutes you’re somewhere else. You’re skiing in Tahoe, surfing in Malibu, and dodging golf balls in Palm Springs.
Rappahannock Oyster Bar is not a virtual reality ride, but it is a restaurant that accomplishes something similar. Dinner at Rappahannock takes you out of LA - without actually leaving the city. You come here to hang beneath a giant tree on a patio in the center of the RowDTLA development, surrounded by cobblestone plazas covered in string lighting. Close one eye and squint and you can pretend you’re sitting on the Chesapeake Bay, pleased with how your new life as an oyster shucker is going.
It’s not a coincidence that Rappahannock feels like it’s been picked up and moved from the East Coast - it’s an actual oyster farm in Virginia, with several restaurants around the Southeast. This is the first West Coast location, and we’ll cut to the chase and tell you that it isn’t the best seafood in Los Angeles. It is, however, good seafood, made even better by the place in which you’re eating it.
Rappahannock’s lunch and dinner menus are very different - and this place is at its best during the day. The menu is simpler and has more of the snacks and sandwiches you want from a casual oyster bar, like the po’boy (our favorite thing here) and the lobster roll that’s much bigger than what you normally find in LA. If you do come for dinner, concentrate on the raw bar - the massive seafood towers are ideal for big groups. And no matter when you’re here, oysters should be on your table.
It’s towards the end of the meal when reality hits. Soon you’ll pay up and find your Honda in the parking lot - but at least you’ll drive home with the real sense that, for at least a couple hours, you found an escape. And you didn’t even have to go to Anaheim for it.
Rappahannock is a 100-year-old oyster farm from the Chesapeake Bay, so yes, they nail these. There are usually three different varieties available, so we recommend mixing, matching, and slurping them with the house “awesomesauce” that comes on the side.
This is our favorite thing on the menu, and we’d drive to RowDTLA just to eat it again. Topped with butter lettuce, creamy remoulade, and celery root slaw, this sandwich is perfectly balanced and the fried oysters are as fresh as they get.
Lobster rolls are expensive anywhere in LA, but Rappahannock’s is bigger than most and the meat is fresh. The $19 price point is justified.
Aside from the seafood towers, this is the other must-order off the dinner menu. You only get two, but these things are massive.
This thing is a complete mess. For as much sauce as the burger is helplessly drowning in, the patties themselves are bone dry and crying for help. Skip this.
We’ll continue to order this dish just so we can say it out loud again. That said, it tastes pretty good too.