Where to Eat Oysters Outside in Seattle Right Now
Shuck ‘em, grill ‘em, fry ‘em, bake ‘em, or eat ‘em right off the shell.
Whether you prefer your oysters plain or with mignonette, horseradish, hot sauce, or a squeeze of lemon, the pairing of oysters with the outdoors might be best of all. Knocking back a half dozen with a view of the water or biting into some crispy fried ones beneath a blue summer sky makes the concept of outdoor dining a luxury, not just a pandemic necessity. Washington is the largest producer of farmed shellfish in the nation, giving us a great variety of oysters from the diminutive Olympias to the robust Fat Bastards. In and around Seattle, there are many locations to have oysters outside in all the ways it can be enjoyed: fried, baked, raw, shooters, or even a stew.
Tucked away on the north shore of Lake Union is Westward, where chef and restaurateur Renee Erickson’s menu hones in on her specialty—seafood—with a Mediterranean twist. The best seat in the house is inarguably outdoors, inches from the water, that are first come first serve. The best time? Happy hour Mondays through Thursdays between 4 to 5 pm where you can get deals on certain menu items and $1 oysters. Arrive by foot, car, bike, or boat (in true Seattle fashion, they have a private dock with fire pits and Adirondack chairs overlooking the lake) and make your selections from a list of East and West Coast raw oysters including a large variety of local oysters from Hama Hama Oysters.
Elliott's Oyster House
Often overlooked as a tourist trap thanks to its Great Wheel-adjacent location on the Waterfront, this mainstay is not to be overlooked. It boasts a sprawling patio that extends out into its eponymous bay, and a menu offering pan fried Pacific Oysters served with a bourbon sauce, seasonal baked oysters, and a "Celebration" seafood tower with raw oysters and assorted chilled seafood options. Those looking ahead for the ultimate oyster experience will want to book tickets for the restaurant’s annual Oyster New Year celebration, taking place in November.
Just upstairs from the iconic Ray's Boathouse, the more casual (and relatively inexpensive) Cafe is literally located on the waters of Shilshole Bay thanks to a series of pylons jutting out from the shore. That makes the deck lining the front of the restaurant, with its unique views of Puget Sound and the Olympics, the perfect place to try a selection of local oysters on the half-shell served the traditional way, on ice with a red-wine mignonette.
It’s hard to get any closer to the source than an oyster bar run by a local shellfish farm. This kind of connection means that the restaurants are entirely designed around offering a wide selection including popular crowd pleasers like the Kusshi, Kumamoto, and Shigoku. It also means you’ll find the most knowledgeable staff in town here: They spend time at the farm learning everything there is to know about oysters. You won't find a ton of outdoor seating, but the handful of streetside spots at both locations do make for a fun and vibrant place to bolt down your bivalves.
This little fish & chips shop with the big fish on the roof has been doing the same thing for decades: serving up some of Seattle's best fried seafood, including a basket of oysters & fries for less than 10 bucks that, like the rest of their menu, come delicately fried in a light crunchy batter, and still tasting of the sea water they were pulled out of.
Frank's Oyster House
Frank's is more like the classic East Coast oyster bar, with blacks, browns, and woods forming the décor, than the bright, white marble West Coast ones, and it's unquestionably going for the cozy vibe… until you get outside, where together with the brewery patio across the street, their sidewalk seating can make you feel like you stumbled into a chill neighborhood block party. Their oysters on a half shell come with an assortment of garnishes including champagne mignonette, cocktail sauce, fresh lemons, and a seasonal granita.
RockCreek Seafood & Spirits
This cavernous modern spot boasts a large outdoor dining space where you can enjoy a rotating selection of raw local oysters and remixed classics like the Oysters ‘Brock-a-Fella’ with bacon, thyme, and tamarind butter, and additional raw bar options like an Aquavitoyster shooter with Cap Corse-roe,dill, and Agrumato.
Emmett Watson's Oyster Bar
Deep inside the Soames-Dunn building, this venerable glass-enclosed oyster destination makes social distancing a little difficult unless you post up in the courtyard outside where, hidden away beneath the bustling Post Alley and the crowd of tourists lining up to see the "original" Starbucks next door, you can enjoy broiled oysters topped with bacon, or fried and served with a basket of chips. A delicious and off-menu oyster stew is often available on request. Or you know, go raw with freshly shucked and served on the half-shell.
The White Swan Public House
Posted up in the former Terrible Beauty and BluWater Bistro space, WS features an outdoor patio that's perfect for watching seaplanes land on Lake Union and spending an evening enjoying a seafood platter of raw oysters, cooked prawns, steamed mussels, and salmon rillette or indulging in its luxurious Shells & Champagne, which includes up to two dozen oysters and a "bottle of bubbles."
Emerald City Fish and Chips
Stevie Allen’s Emerald City Fish and Chips has been the area’s Southern Seafood mainstay since 2009. Allen doles up Southern dishes reminiscent of grandma’s cooking, but with a Northwest twist. Crab puppies, fried catfish, and a gumbo served only Sunday through Tuesday are popular bets, but Emerald is also the ultimate spot to score oyster po’ boys. You can also order their fried oysters with chips to enjoy at their outdoor picnic tables.
East Anchor Seafood
East Anchor is the latest seafood-focused market and restaurant from Chef Brian Clevenger’s General Harvest Restaurant Group. Its market boasts a selection of sustainably sourced fish and shellfish, some of which can be found on its menu of seafood favorites like cioppino, fish tacos, poke, and more. A chalkboard menu lists a selection of raw oysters served with mignonette, fresh horseradish, and lemons or you can order a variety with its seafood tower, which includes a half dozen oysters with shrimp and poke. Outdoor seating is available but limited.
The Walrus and the Carpenter
Walrus is one of Seattle’s most celebrated oyster bars in part for its abundant selection of local oysters, but also for its light, whimsical aesthetic which extends outward to its cozy, covered outdoor patio. The extra seats are much needed as Walrus often has long lines and a bit of a wait. Its raw oyster selection is served clockwise, from the mildest flavored oyster to the strongest, with champagne vinegar mignonette, freshly grated horseradish, and lemons. The only other item possibly more popular than this would be their cornmeal crusted fried oysters with cilantro aioli.
Chef Brendan McGill’s former Hitchcock is now seabird. The restaurant, painted white and marine blue, is an homage to the locally sourced products of land and sea, but mostly sea. Its menu paints a landscape of the Pacific Northwest: razor clams hand dug by members of the Quinault Tribe, salsify grown by farmer Kevin of Shady Acres Farm, morels foraged from the Cascades, and line-caught halibut from Neah Bay. Seabird’s raw bar includes a rotating selection of unique oysters less often found at its Seattle counterparts like Baywater Sweets from Thorndyke Bay and Dabobs from its namesake bay.