The Best Oyster Spots in NYC
The oyster is deeply ingrained in New York City’s history, and its future -- the sea creatures help purify our waters, and organizations like the Billion Oyster Project are working to restore New York’s native oyster population by recycling shells emptied by your slurping. Icy, fried, unadorned, or topped with novel accoutrement, the little guys are also delicious. Here’s everywhere you’ll want to throw ‘em back this summer.
This charming New Orleans-style raw bar is accented with absinthe drips and retro decor straight out of the French Quarter inside, and buzzy out back every summer evening. Oysters are $1.50 on weekdays from 4-7pm and from 11am-1pm on weekends.
The only way to reach this year-old seafood and tropical cocktail spot is by ferry, so assemble your crew prepare to slurp oysters in view of the skyline, nautical style. You’ll pay a bit more for the views, but the seafood is top quality. Splurge on a half dozen of the oysters Champagne ($22), dressed with shishito pepper, cucumber and Champagne mignonette, which, naturally, pairs well with Brooklyn Brewery’s exclusive Island Oyster brew ($30/pitcher).
The craft beer and oyster pairings at this rustic bar give you a pretty good reason to not head upstate on a summer weekend. East Coast varieties change daily, and they’re always served with the customary wedge of lemon, hot sauce, horseradish and mignonette. Stop by from 5 - 7pm daily, when $12 gets you a pint and half a dozen cold ones on the half shell.
Now helmed by celebrity chef Rocco DiSpirito, this locals-packed hotel restaurant is part raw bar, part izakaya and part alt-carb heaven -- which may be the holy trinity of contemporary Manhattan dining. The oysters here are luxe, and the newly signature dish, Peconic Bay scallops with uni, splashed with tomato water and a couple drops off mustard oil, will lure oyster enthusiasts into new waters.
So pleasant and calm it’s hard to believe it’s in the heart of gentrified Williamsburg, this restaurant committed to local food and social responsibility is the perfect place to unwind with New England-style fare. Oysters are served with a tangy lemon mignonette, to slurp along with a well-curated, well-priced wine list or $50 carafe of cocktails to pass around the picnic-style tables.
One of the first spots to bring New England-style seafood meals (lobstah!) to Manhattan is still one of the best. Cozy and quaint enough to wander in solo when you cancel plans (or you’re just eschewing humans), the bar here is welcoming to anyone eager to scarf down a platter of chilled oysters and a $10 glass of white wine.
This natural wine bar’s dim lighting and dark interiors conjure a vaguely European small town. Oysters are $1 a piece everyday until 7pm, and a carafe of red or white wine is $15 until then, too. The three seasonal oyster varieties increase to $2.50 each after 7, to be supplemented with small plates, meats, and cheeses, and yes, plenty of wine by the glass.
Housed on a 140-foot antique wooden schooner (dating back to 1924), this seasonal outdoor oyster bar and seafood spot is authentically nautical, with striped awnings, straw stools and plenty of out-to-sea decor. Brunch starts at 10am daily, so you can soak up skyline views, slurp a tray of East and West Coast oysters and yes, drink, all before lunchtime.
Far out on the pier at City Island sits Johnny’s Reef, which brings in a steady stream of New Yorkers (and almost as many seagulls) eager for a New England-style outing without actually leaving the city. The cafeteria-style eatery offers hefty orders of fried oysters (for those averse to slurping) piled on a heap of fries that will set you back a mere $18 (cash only, of course). Take advantage of the sauce bar offering endless ketchup, tartar, and hot sauces and lean into the casual scene complete with plastic red tray and picnic-table seating overlooking Long Island Sound.
If throwing back oysters as fast as they come out isn’t your style, head into Upholstery Store, a casual, yet intimate, West Village spot where Austrian chef Kurt Gutenbrunner creates works of art on the half shell that you’ll want to take your time with. Expect specialty oysters topped with creative adornments like salmon roe and chive, uni, and pickled celery, as well as a refreshing cucumber & mint combo, all to be savored slowly by the bar or on a plush sofa.
A decent oyster happy hour can be hard to find In an area of Manhattan that’s still not known for its food scene. Enter Crave: a slightly upscale, sustainable seafood restaurant that focuses on all things fish. A daily listing of 20 oyster varieties lets you pick which unique varieties you want on your seafood tower (if you don’t know, ask a shucker!). If you’re looking for something a little less involved, come between 5-7pm Monday-Friday and 4-6pm on Saturday and Sunday, when both East and West Coast oysters are $1.
The team behind Grand Army takes both drinks and oysters very seriously. The sauces accompanying icy platters of East Coast oysters arrive in lab-like droppers for optimal application precision. Thoughtful cocktails change seasonally, and beer nerds will find a sea of rare brews on tap and by the bottle.
This intimate West Village spot may be named after an entirely different mollusk, but that doesn't mean it doesn’t know what it’s doing with oysters, too. With plenty of flickering candles and exposed brick, The Clam is the perfect place to bring a non-shellfish-allergic date, grab a seat at the not-crowded bar, and order a seasonal selection of East and West Coast oysters. Oysters are served alongside a homemade chili-lime mignonette that you may just want to drink by the flute-ful (though we strongly suggest you don’t).
Nab $1 oysters with a spicy Korean pepper paste cocktail sauce and a pomegranate vinegar mignonette at this cavernous not-quite-clubstaurant’s 4-7pm daily happy hour. If you’re craving oysters after 7pm, go for the chilled variety with toppings like salmon roe and pickled radish, then try the bibim paella and bulgogi tacos.
Hop on the ferry to Red Hook (or just take an Uber, if you’re feeling especially lame) to explore this tri-level seafood shack. On the lower level, you’ll find a bar ready to pour out beers and serve freshly shucked East and West Coast oysters along with a side of cornhole. On the upper levels, there’s plenty of picnic-bench seating for enjoying a raw seafood platter along with the world’s best hot sauces -- not to mention a pretty decent view of the Statue of Liberty. Instead of a happy hour, Brooklyn Crab does Happy Days on Mondays and Tuesdays, offering house oysters (Barcats from Virginia) for $1 all day and night.
Part sustainable seafood market, part restaurant, Greenpoint Fish & Lobster is known for having some of the best oysters in the city, sourced from local fishermen. Bypass the tempting groceries (you can buy some on your way out) and head for the raw bar, where monger-selected East Coast oysters are $1.50 each, West Coast oysters are $2, select beer and cider is $5, and wine is $6 on weekdays from 2-6pm. Catch the same deal on weekends from 4-6pm. Let a shucker or server explain the differences between the regional oysters as you taste your way through the tri-state area and beyond.
Don’t let the name mislead you -- you’re welcome to order as many oysters as you’d like while wearing a T-shirt and jeans (maybe even sweatpants, if you’re feeling especially daring). Get Island Creek oysters for $2 from 5-7pm Monday-Friday. In a Williamsburg that now boasts more designer boutiques and luxury condos than ramshackle art studios, this beloved spot maintains an air of unpretentiousness and seriously carefree vibes.
Known mostly for its cocktails by mixology queen Julie Reiner, this dark, cozy lounge is a fantastic hideaway to eat oysters late into the night, especially if you get a prime fireside seat. Cuddle up on a chaise lounge with a cocktail from the pages-long drink menu and slurp down one of the two renditions of East Coast oysters on offer: standard raw on the half shell with red wine mignonette, or the Oysters “Rock Your Face Off,” aka fried oysters with “Rockefeller" aioli.
Sel Rrose converts from a coffee shop to a cocktail bar come late afternoon, and with that comes platters of both East and West Coast oysters (and fried oysters for the slurp-phobic) alongside sophisticated craft cocktails stirred with house-infused liquors and refined syrups. Slink away in a corner with a book and beverage or gather your friends for $1 oyster happy hour from 4-7pm daily.
Marco Canora’s East Village oyster bar seeks to revive the old-school oyster house with oysters seven different ways (raw, pickled, poached, baked, broiled, fried, or steamed) alongside other seafood bites like crab cake sliders and smoked bluefish paté. Stop by the intimate bar and post up at a high-top for the night’s $1.50 oyster special (and maybe a side of Canora’s famed cacio e pepe).
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