Order From These Boston Oyster Bars to Help Keep the Industry Afloat
Slurp down a dozen and support local oyster farms.
With a seafood scene like no other, Boston serves up some of the freshest catches in the nation. Now that summer is in full swing, restaurants across the city are doing takeout, have opened for outdoor dining, and as of recently, can offer indoor seating as long as the state’s mandatory safety standards are met. In other words, there are countless ways to enjoy oysters right now.
As a partner in Row 34 and Island Creek Oysters Duxbury-based farm and pair of restaurants, Shore Gregory (yes, that is his real name) stresses the importance of supporting the industry, as he’s seen firsthand the challenges of running a seafood business during the pandemic.
“It would be an understatement to say this summer has been a strange one,” he says. “COVID-19 has turned the world upside down and, with it, the restaurant industry. With many of them closed or doing significantly reduced business, the farm has leaned onto its direct-to-consumer business. Much to everyone’s surprise and gratitude, there are a lot of oyster lovers out there and they’ve been buying bags of oysters, caviar, and tinned fish.”
For those seafood fans who feel safe enough to venture out and support their favorite oyster bars, that kind of support is crucial, too.
“Now that we are open for indoor and outdoor dining, things are starting to feel a little bit more ‘normal,’” Gregory says. “But our priority with our teams and guests has always been safety, and that continues today. I can’t say enough about our teams in the restaurants and how hard they've worked to make dining in or ordering take out from one of our restaurants delicious and memorable. In the near term, we are hopeful for continued support at the local, state, and federal level -- that will be an important component to broad-based restaurant survival.”
To help steer you in the right direction, we’ve put together a list of the best spots in the city for oysters, featuring ways to order them, weekly specials and must-have meals. Make sure to visit the restaurants’ websites ahead of time to make a reservation and review hours and social distancing rules. As always, don’t forget to take your mask before heading out.
Near Faneuil Hall
Known as America’s oldest restaurant, the Union Oyster House first opened its doors in 1826. A city staple and historical goldmine, the restaurant continues to operate, with seafood at the heart of its famous menu. A half-dozen oysters will cost you around $18, but for something different, try the fried select oysters for $30. Union Oyster House is open for dine-in, patio and takeout service.
A celebration of New England’s rich seafood traditions and the farmers, fishermen, and lobstermen who inspire them, Row 34 in Seaport is part of the Island Creek Oyster family, which has grown into one of the largest and most reputable aquaculture businesses in America. For $20, you can order a dozen oysters at the location or order online to have a feast fit for an isolated king or queen. You can also get creative with your quarantine goals and check out Island Creek’s website for an at-home oyster shucking starter kit. Row 34 is open for dine-in, takeout, and patio service.
Restaurateur and James Beard Award winner Chef Barbara Lynch serves up seasonal seafood dishes featuring the freshest oysters, with batches currently from Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Washington. For an at-home raw bar experience, you can order an oyster shucking knife and 12 (unshucked) oysters from the takeout menu -- just make sure you watch a tutorial or two before getting started. B&G is currently open for patio and takeout service.
Inspired by the original, full-service location in Portland, Maine, Eventide Fenway is known as one of the best lobster rolls spots in the city, with its brown butter lobster served in a perfectly steamed and fluffy bao bun. The restaurant’s menu also offers a dozen unshucked oysters for $20, which you can enjoy on the patio or for takeout. Eventide Fenway is open for patio and takeout service.
With some of the most affordable specials in town, Lincoln has you covered for when you’re craving something out of the ordinary. Every Wednesday, get your hands on $1 oysters from 12-8pm. Still not convinced? Check out Instagram for a sneak peek of its endlessly delectable entrees and desserts. Lincoln is open for dine-in and patio service.
To help kickstart the week, head to Monument Restaurant & Tavern for its “Monday Night Raw” special, featuring $1 oysters from 4-6pm. However, your meal won’t be complete without the restaurant’s summertime cocktails -- take your pick from a sweet frosè or frozen Aperol Spritz for added fun. Monument is open for dine-in and patio service.
Equipped with an intimate, landscaped patio, Ashmont Grill is a charming find with plenty of seafood and raw bar options, including $3 oysters or a half-dozen for $15. If you’re craving a bubbly beverage, try the restaurant’s “Rhubarb & Rosemary Aperol Spritz” to perfectly pair with your summer dish. Ashmont Grill is open for dine-in and patio service.
Family-owned Yankee Lobster Company, conveniently located near Harpoon Brewery, has a menu packed with beloved New England classics. Choose from fried oysters for $15 or shucked oysters for $2.50 each. Yankee is open for patio and takeout service.
Taking over the corner of Newbury & Dartmouth Street, and borrowing outdoor space from sister restaurant Met Back Bay, Saltie Girl’s patio scene offers a spacious setup for those dining in the city. Known for sustainable and high quality offerings, Saltie Girl has plenty of specialities to sift through, including its petite, grande, and royale seafood towers featuring fresh oysters, littlenecks, and Jonah crab salad. Don’t forget to order the famous potato chips on the side. Saltie Girl is only open for patio service.
Back Bay, Cambridge
Acclaimed Chef Jasper White’s take on a traditional New England clam shack, Summer Shack has an unbeatable raw bar holding 2,000 pieces of fresh shellfish, not to mention a legendary oyster shucker with countless accolades. With 8-10 different oyster types served daily at $3 apiece, the menu is ideal for a summer night outing. Summer Shack is open for dine-in service.
No seafood list is complete without mention of Neptune Oyster. Tucked away in the North End, it’s back open for business, with limited indoor and outdoor seating. For the unconvention oyster dish, try Neptune’s oyster piggybacks for $14, with Berkshire pulled pork smothered with blueberry mostarda maple butter.
A hybrid of Italian cuisine and traditional seafood dishes, Mare Oyster Bar has an overwhelmingly long oyster list to choose from when you’re in the mood to splurge. Local oysters on the half shell are market price but worth the extra dollars. Mare is open for dine-in and patio service.
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