Washington has so many oysters that, if governor Jay Inslee allowed it, we could use them as currency. We’re fortunate to be in a place where local oysters are available year-round - but sometimes, you’re not in the mood for a mouthful of ocean water. For those occasions when your friends want mollusks but you’d rather eat anything else, consult this guide. Every restaurant on this list serves excellent oysters and delicious non-oyster things for you.
The Walrus And The Carpenter
The Walrus And The Carpenter is like the Magic Kingdom of oysters. They always have upwards of eight different local types, the staff can recommend an oyster that suits your size/brininess preferences, and the tangy mignonette that comes on the side is great. But you’re going to have a good meal here regardless of what you order, especially if you get a bunch of the excellent small plates, like the roasted beets with burrata, the beef tartare, or even whipped butter and Seawolf bread. The best part is that everything, oysters and all, pairs well with the sparkling wines on rotation here. Also important: if you’re in the mood for cooked oysters, the cornmeal-crusted ones here are delicious.
Frank's Oyster House
With a name like “Frank’s Oyster House,” it’s hard to imagine coming here and not ordering oysters. However, we suggest skipping them altogether - the mini lobster rolls, fried chicken, and the incredible burger with white cheddar and louie sauce are even better than their oysters.
Manolin is an outstanding restaurant in Fremont with an incredibly diverse lineup of raw seafood, fish, and meat. In addition to the two types of local oysters they serve, the menu has other delicious dishes like rockfish ceviche, grilled steak with chimichurri, and black rice with squid. Whatever you order, it’s hard not to be happy sitting in the space that could double as a beachside Airbnb with a cocktail and a pile of salt-and-pepper plantain chips.
The White Swan Public House
The White Swan Public House, located on the side of a Lake Union dock, is one of our favorite spots to hang out by the water. Your friends can go in on a combo of oysters and champagne while you order a fish sandwich, poutine topped with clam chowder instead of gravy, or steak if you’re not feeling seafood.
We have to admit, an aerial shot of oysters at Bar Melusine above the seafoam green and white tiled floor looks pretty damn aesthetically pleasing. But it’s not worth it to order an entire ice tray full of expensive oysters only for some likes on Instagram. The non-oyster food here is excellent, which we’d expect from the sister restaurant to Walrus And The Carpenter and Bateau. Have the burger or a crab cake, and always make sure to get a plate of fries.
Rockcreek Seafood & Spirits
RockCreek serves a bunch of different oysters from Washington and British Columbia on the half-shell as well as shooters involving ingredients like pineapple and Fresno chile. But all the fish dishes are excellent, whether it’s blackened yellowtail and grits to a whole roasted branzino. Even if you don’t want anything that comes from a body of water at all, the menu always has a couple of fresh pasta dishes and the cauliflower farro salad with pecorino is ridiculously good.
There are better oysters in town, but Vendemmia generally has a good selection if your friends are interested in getting a couple as an appetizer rather than a dozen. This Madrona spot also happens to be one of our favorite places in town to eat pasta. Don’t forget to order some burrata, grilled vegetables, and pastas like the spicy spaghetti with tomato or ricotta agnolotti.
Shaker And Spear
If you’re at this attractive upscale seafood spot, you’re probably out for some kind of special occasion. The oysters at Shaker and Spear are a great way to toast to something celebratory, but so is bruleed mac and cheese, parmesan truffle fries, paella, and steak.
If you plan to read Toulouse Petit’s menu to a toddler as a bedtime story, you’re in for a long night. The New Orleans-inspired menu is massive, which means that there’s a wide variety of dishes to eat, many of which did not come from an inlet. Shrimp and grits, gumbo, and braised bacon are some of the highlights. And make sure you get some beignets with coffee glaze for dessert.
The best thing at L’Oursin, a French spot in the Central District, is their Monday-night burger - it’s a crispy caramelized patty topped with brie, special sauce, and cornichons. If you’re meeting a couple of friends who don’t mind sitting at the bar (you can’t order the burger at a table), they’ll be perfectly happy eating oysters while you’re tearing into the burger. L’Oursin also specializes in natural wine, so order a bottle or two of funky pet-nat rosé and dessert gewürztraminer.