Are you ready to embark on an exciting journey through the world of oysters? Get ready to discover the best oysters in the United States, their unique flavors, and the top oyster bars across the country. This ultimate guide will take you from East Coast gems to West Coast wonders and Southern delights, all while exploring must-try oyster varieties and sustainable farming practices. Not only are oysters delicious, but they also offer incredible health benefits. So, let’s dive in and start exploring the fascinating world of oysters!
Discover the best oysters in America from coast to coast, including must-try varieties like Kumamoto and Blue Point.
Enjoy them raw on the half shell or grilled/fried with a variety of sauces, perfect for pairing with white wine or beer!
Oysters are rich in nutrients and have health benefits such as boosting immune system & libido.
Top Oyster Bars Across the Country
In the quest for the perfect oyster, we’ve ventured far and wide to bring you the top oyster bars from coast to coast. Here are some of the best oyster bars in America:
Neptune Oyster in Boston
Grand Central Oyster Bar in New York City
Hog Island Oyster Bar in San Francisco
Taylor Oyster Bar in Seattle
These establishments showcase the finest oysters America has to offer.
And let’s not forget the Southern delights like Casamento’s in New Orleans and The Ordinary in Charleston, where you can indulge in delicious oyster dishes with a Southern twist.
East Coast Gems: Neptune Oyster (Boston) and Grand Central Oyster Bar (New York City)
When it comes to East Coast oyster havens, Neptune Oyster in Boston and Grand Central Oyster Bar in New York City are definitely at the top of the list. Neptune Oyster offers a selection of delicious oysters, including Royal Canadians, Eel Lakes, and Egg Islands, ensuring every bite is a delight. This Michelin Guide “Bib Gourmet” winner is well-known for its fantastic raw bar and mouthwatering prepared seafood dishes, such as shrimp or crab louie and oysters Rockefeller.
Grand Central Oyster Bar, on the other hand, boasts a wide selection of North American oysters, like Cape May Salts from New Jersey and Queens Cup oysters from Prince Edward Island. As a prestigious James Beard Award winner, Grand Central Oyster Bar serves not only amazing oysters but also scrumptious dishes like lobster rolls and oyster po’ boy sliders. The highlight of the show is their trio of grilled oyster preparations. The Casino preparation features butter, thyme, and Nueske’s bacon. Oysters Rockefeller has been reinvented with creamy spinach and aged white cheddar. Sautéed wild mushrooms, accompanied by crispy breadcrumbs, makes up the third option.
West Coast Wonders: Hog Island Oyster Bar (San Francisco) and Taylor Oyster Bar (Seattle)
If you find yourself on the West Coast, don’t miss the opportunity to visit Hog Island Oyster Bar in San Francisco and Taylor Oyster Bar in Seattle. Hog Island Oyster Bar, with its casual and low-key atmosphere, provides an ever-changing selection of East and West Coast oysters, ensuring you can taste the freshest oysters available.
Taylor Oyster Bar in Seattle offers a waterfront feel and specializes in delicious, buttery Kumamoto oysters. These West Coast establishments have unique offerings and environments, making them must-visit destinations for oyster aficionados and seafood lovers alike.
Southern Delights: Casamento's (New Orleans) and The Ordinary (Charleston)
Heading down South, we find two oyster bars that perfectly capture the essence of Southern oyster culture – Casamento’s in New Orleans and The Ordinary in Charleston. Casamento’s is famous for its Louisiana oysters and offers a variety of East Coast options as well. Their daily selection, which includes Dixon Point oysters from New Brunswick and Capers Blades and Steamboat Creeks from South Carolina, can be found on their Twitter. Don’t miss their Baked Otter Island oysters with bottarga butter and crispy oysters with beef tartare!
The Ordinary in Charleston, South Carolina, is another Southern delight. Here, you can sample the many local oysters, flavors of Lowcountry oysters and the Carolina oyster, as well as savor their delicious seafood dishes. This charming oyster bar is sure to leave you craving more of the Southern oyster experience.
Must-Try Oyster Varieties
Before embarking on your culinary adventure to these top oyster bars, familiarize yourself with the varieties to try. Some must-try oyster varieties include:
The sweet and creamy Kumamoto
The briny Blue Point
The plump and flavorful Wellfleet
The unique Shigoku oyster
These oyster varieties offer a diverse range of flavors and textures, ensuring a memorable experience for your taste buds.
Originally from Japan, Kumamoto oysters are small, sweet, and creamy with a deep cup shape. Their flavor is bright and fruity, with a refreshing cucumber finish.
Kumamoto oysters can be found in many seafood markets and restaurants on the West Coast, making them a must-try for any oyster enthusiast.
Blue Point Oysters
Blue Point oysters, popular on the East Coast, are known for their:
Fresh, crisp, and firm experience
Mild, sweet aftertaste
Blue Point oysters are best enjoyed from September to July, providing a delicious experience throughout most of the year.
Hailing from Wellfleet, Massachusetts, Wellfleet oysters boast the following characteristics:
Mild, sweet flavor
Crisp, clean finish
Brisk, salty taste of the sea
These qualities make them a favorite among oyster enthusiasts.
Wellfleet oysters are sustainably farmed using methods such as floating cage systems, off-bottom cultivation, and oyster restoration projects, ensuring that oysters harvested maintain the highest quality.
Shigoku oysters, a type of Pacific oyster, offer a unique and unforgettable experience. Here are some characteristics of Shigoku oysters:
Farmed using a special suspension technique
Briny and firm texture
Flavor reminiscent of cucumber
Shigoku means “ultimate” in Japanese, and these oysters certainly live up to their name.
Sustainable Oyster Farming Practices
While relishing the delicious flavors of these oyster varieties, the significance of sustainable oyster farming practices should not be overlooked. These practices help maintain healthy oyster populations while minimizing the environmental impact of oyster farms.
Some sustainable oyster farming practices include floating cage systems, off-bottom cultivation, and oyster restoration projects, which all contribute to a thriving the oyster production industry.
Floating Cage Systems
Floating cage systems are an innovative method of oyster farming that involves suspending cages in the water. This allows oysters to feed on plankton and other nutrients without impacting the seafloor.
Floating cage systems offer numerous benefits, such as partially harvesting fish as needed, multi-use water resources, and reduced labor costs. However, there are also challenges, such as overcrowding, potential disease spread, and the risk of environmental harm from the use of chemicals and other contaminants.
Off-bottom cultivation farming oysters is another sustainable oyster farming method that involves:
Growing oysters in trays or bags suspended in the water
Reducing the impact of oyster farming on the seafloor
Providing a more controlled environment for oyster growth.
Off-bottom cultivation offers many advantages, such as increased growth rates due to better water flow and higher survival rates. However, it also presents challenges, including the cost of equipment and labor required to maintain the cages or bags.
Oyster Restoration Projects
Oyster restoration projects aim to revitalize oyster populations in areas where they have been depleted. These projects involve planting oyster larvae on reefs or other suitable habitats, which can help improve water quality and provide a habitat for other marine species.
Examples of current restoration projects include the Chesapeake Bay Oyster Restoration Program, the Gulf Coast Oyster Restoration Program, and the Puget Sound Restoration Program. These projects demonstrate a commitment to sustaining healthy oyster populations for generations to come.
How to Enjoy Oysters: Popular Preparations and Pairings
Being an oyster connoisseur now, delve into the various ways these delightful mollusks can be savored. From raw oysters on the half shell to grilled or roasted oysters and even fried oysters, there are countless ways to savor their unique flavors.
To enhance the taste even further, pair your oysters with the perfect beverage and sauce, creating a culinary experience you won’t forget.
Raw Oysters on the Half Shell
The classic way to enjoy oysters is raw on the half shell, served with a variety of sauces and condiments. This preparation allows you to fully appreciate the oyster’s natural flavors and succulent texture. To elevate the experience, pair raw oysters with a zesty mignonette sauce, tangy cocktail sauce, or a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.
For the perfect beverage accompaniment, opt for a crisp white wine or a glass of bubbly Champagne.
Grilled or Roasted Oysters
Grilled or roasted oysters offer a different take on this versatile mollusk. Grilling oysters imparts a smoky flavor, while roasting provides a more subtle taste. To prepare grilled oysters or roasted oysters, simply top them with butter, garlic, herbs, or other seasonings and cook until just done.
Enjoy these cooked mature oysters, including bbq oysters, wild goose oysters and wild oysters, with a light white wine or a citrusy mignonette sauce for an unforgettable flavor combination.
For a truly indulgent treat, try fried oysters. The crunchy exterior perfectly complements the tender, briny oyster meat inside. To create the ultimate fried oyster, experiment with different batters such as a cornmeal/flour mix, a cornmeal batter, or a tempura-style batter with flour, cornstarch, beer, and soda.
Once golden brown and crispy, pair your fried oysters with classic sauces like cocktail sauce, tartar sauce, or remoulade. A cold beer or a glass of white wine makes for the perfect beverage accompaniment.
Beverage and Sauce Pairings
A well-chosen beverage and hot sauce pairing can elevate the flavor of your oyster dish to new heights. For raw oysters, consider a crisp white wine, Champagne, or Prosecco, along with mignonette sauce, cocktail sauce, or horseradish.
Grilled or roasted oysters pair well with a light white wine or a citrusy mignonette sauce, while fried oysters are best enjoyed with a cold beer, white wine, and flavorful sauces like cocktail, tartar, or remoulade.
Seasonal Oyster Guide: When to Eat Your Favorite Varieties
Understanding when each variety is at its peak is key to truly appreciating the diverse flavors of oysters. Our seasonal oyster guide will help you determine the best time to savor East Coast oysters during the winter months, West Coast oysters in the summer months, and year-round favorites like Kumamoto and Pacific oysters.
By following our guide, you can ensure that you’re always enjoying the freshest
Winter Months: East Coast Oysters
During the winter months, East Coast oysters like:
are at their tastiest. The cold waters of the Atlantic Ocean contribute to their unique flavors and plump meat.
To enjoy these delicious winter oysters, visit locations such as Cape Cod, Massachusetts; Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island; Long Island, New York; Damariscotta River, Maine; and Chesapeake Bay, home to the renowned Chesapeake Bay oysters.
Summer Months: West Coast Oysters
In the summer months, West Coast oysters like Hog Island, Taylor, Kumamoto, and Island Creek Oysters are at their peak. These oysters thrive in the cold waters of the Pacific Ocean, giving them a sweet and briny flavor that’s perfect for the season.
To sample these summertime oysters, visit establishments like Hog Island Oyster Bar in San Francisco and Taylor Oyster Bar in Seattle.
Year-Round Favorites: Kumamoto and Pacific Oysters
Kumamoto oyster and Pacific oysters are beloved varieties that can be enjoyed any time of year. Kumamoto oysters are known for their sweet and briny flavor with a cucumber finish, while Pacific oysters have a unique, salty taste.
These versatile oysters make a delicious addition to any oyster lover’s menu, regardless of the season.
Oyster Festivals and Events
For a deeper dive into the world of oysters, consider participating in one of the many oyster festivals and events held countrywide. These celebrations showcase the best of local oyster culture and offer a fun-filled experience for all ages.
Some popular events with oyster beds include the Charleston OysterFest in South Carolina, the New Orleans Oyster Festival in Louisiana, and the Wellfleet OysterFest in Massachusetts.
Lowcountry Oyster Festival (Charleston, South Carolina)
The annual Lowcountry Oyster Festival in Charleston South Carolina is a celebration of the local oyster industry. Here, you can:
Sample a variety of oysters, such as the Lowcountry Oyster and the Carolina Oyster
Enjoy live music
Watch cooking demonstrations
Participate in oyster shucking competitions.
With its lively atmosphere and delicious oyster dishes, the Lowcountry Oyster Festival is a must-attend event for oyster lovers.
New Orleans Oyster Festival (Louisiana)
Held in the heart of the French Quarter, the New Orleans Oyster Festival is an annual event that showcases the city’s rich oyster culture. With a variety of oysters from the Gulf of Mexico, including Kumamoto, Blue Point, and Wellfleet, the festival offers a diverse selection for attendees to enjoy.
In addition to sampling delicious oysters, festival-goers can also partake in live music, cooking demos, and oyster shucking competitions.
Wellfleet OysterFest (Massachusetts)
The Wellfleet OysterFest in Massachusetts is an annual celebration of the town’s oyster heritage. This event brings together local oyster farmers, artisans, and community members for a weekend filled with delicious oyster dishes, live music, and educational programs.
The festival also features a shucking contest, oyster-themed art displays, and a variety of vendors selling oyster-related products, making it a fun and informative event for all.
Health Benefits of Eating Oysters
Oysters, apart from their delightful flavors and versatility in preparation, come packed with a host of health benefits. They are packed with essential nutrients, provide immune system-boosting properties, and even have aphrodisiac qualities.
So, not only do oysters make for a tasty treat, but they can also contribute to a healthier lifestyle.
Rich in Nutrients
Oysters are an excellent source of nutrients, including protein, vitamins, minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids. They are particularly high in zinc, an essential mineral that supports enzyme activity, protein and DNA synthesis, and a strong immune system.
Consuming oysters can provide a wide range of health benefits, making them a nutritious addition to your diet.
Boosts Immune System
The antioxidants found in oysters can help protect skin cells from sun damage, make skin softer, reduce moisture loss, protect cells from free radical damage, and support the immune system.
Furthermore, the high zinc content in oysters is known to strengthen the immune system and aid in warding off infections. Including oysters in your diet can contribute to a stronger immune system and overall better health.
Oysters have long been believed to possess aphrodisiac qualities, due in part to their high zinc content. Zinc is known to boost libido and is essential for various bodily functions, including enzyme activity, protein and DNA synthesis, and immunity.
So, while enjoying the delicious flavors of oysters, you may also be indulging in a little extra romantic enhancement.
How to Shuck and Store Oysters at Home
For those aspiring to enjoy oysters at home, it’s crucial to learn the techniques of shucking and storing them correctly. To shuck an oyster, you will need an oyster knife, a towel, and a bowl or plate. Hold the oyster in a towel with the hinge facing up, then insert the tip of the oyster knife into the hinge and twist it until the shell opens. Run the knife along the top shell to separate it from the oyster, and you’re ready to enjoy your freshly shucked oyster.
When it comes to storing fresh oysters, it’s best to:
Keep them in the refrigerator
Store them in an open container
Place a damp cloth or paper towel over them
Consume them within a few days to ensure optimal freshness and flavor.
If you have cooked oysters that you’d like to save for later, you can freeze them for up to three months. Here’s how:
Lay the cooked oysters in a single layer on a baking sheet and freeze until solid.
Transfer them to a freezer-safe container or bag.
Store in the freezer.
In this ultimate guide to the best oysters in the United States, we’ve explored the top oyster bars across the country, discovered must-try oyster varieties, learned about sustainable oyster farming practices, and indulged in the health benefits of eating oysters. With so many flavors and preparations eat oysters to choose from, there’s an oyster for everyone to enjoy. So, whether you’re savoring them raw on the half shell, grilled, or fried, don’t miss out on the opportunity to taste these delectable treasures from the sea.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are Kumamoto oysters the best?
Kumamoto oysters have an impressive flavor profile and are beloved by both novice and experienced oyster eaters alike. Therefore, one could say that Kumamoto oysters are indeed the best!
What is the most popular type of oyster?
Pacific oysters have become the most popular oyster around the world due to their attractive shells, deep cup shape and ability to be both excellent raw or cooked. Pacific oysters are found along the Pacific coast of North America from California to British Columbia, making them one of the five most popular oyster species in North America.
Are Pacific or Atlantic oysters better?
Pacific oysters offer a sweetness and creamy texture, with excellent melon, sweetness, butter, and cucumber notes. They're less briny than Atlantic varieties, so Pacific oysters are generally better.
What are the best oysters to eat?
If you're looking for the best tasting oysters, try Kumamoto, Stellar Bay, Grassy Bar, Miyagi, and Malpeque - they're definitely a great place to start!
What are some of the best oyster bars in the US?
For a true oyster experience, try one of the top US oyster bars like Neptune Oyster in Boston, Grand Central Oyster Bar in New York City, Hog Island Oyster Bar in San Francisco, Taylor Oyster Bar in Seattle, Casamento's oyster house in New Orleans, or The Ordinary in Charleston.