Who doesn’t love slurping a good oyster? They’re salty, smooth, and come with an innately sublime feeling of indulgence. They’re luxurious, best enjoyed with a cold glass of bubbly, white wine, or a cocktail, and always seem to signify some kind of celebration. NYC of course has endless options for dining, so it’s no surprise that it’s home to some fabulous oyster bars. From casual neighborhood clam shacks to swanky bars serving champagne and caviar, here’s a guide to some of the best places to slurp oysters in NYC.
In the Boerum Hill neighborhood of Brooklyn you’ll find Grand Army, a stunning cocktail and oyster bar. The bar opened a year ago from four guys who have been in the business for ages, so even before it opened it was expected to be good. The drinks are inspired by old American railway lines, the food menu consists of unique bites, and the oysters come with eye droppers of the usual oyster condiments; needless to say Grand Army lives up to its much-deserved hype.
Maison Premiere is as good as it gets. The oysters are amazing, the seafood towers are stunning, and the cocktails will blow your mind. There’s also absinthe, which is hard to find, and the staff is knowledgable and friendly. Diners pay a price for the experience, but the quality of everything on their menu is superb and certainly worth the money.
Located in Goawnus, Brooklyn, Littleneck is the casual and cool raw bar of your dreams. It’s the perfect neighborhood beach shack in the heart of Brooklyn, but don’t worry, they’re not getting their oysters from the Gowanus canal on which they sit. You’ll only be served the freshest selection of clams and oysters here, in an equally fresh and friendly setting.
Split between a fish market and a sit-down restaurant, Greenpoint Fish & Lobster will suit all of your seafood needs. You can grab your shopping up front and bring it home to cook, or take a seat in their casual bar/restaurant and have the chefs prepare your fish for you. If you choose the latter, you’ll be treated to the freshest oysters, fantastic fish tacos, curry mussels, and lobster rolls. It’s the kind of neighborhood spot that everyone hopes to count on around the corner.
The oyster happy hours at The Mermaid Inn have become famous, and luckily they have three convenient locations around Manhattan. Come early for happy hour or expect to wait, or skip happy hour all together and come when it’s less busy. Sometimes the latter option is preferable if you want to take advantage of their excellent outdoor seating options.
A classy cocktail spot with a killer raw bar, Sel Rrose makes you feel like you’ve stepped back in time. While a popular spot, the space is large enough and it’s managed to stay under the radar, so it’s usually easy to get a table, and during the warm months there’s prime outdoor seating. Order a cocktail or a glass of champagne, a dozen oysters, and realize that all is well in the world.
A super low-key neighborhood spot in the East Village, Upstate is the sort of place you could easily walk past if you weren’t looking. It’s a tiny spot with a small menu – apart from oysters there’s usually one fish special, one scallop special, and a shellfish pasta, and you can’t go wrong. It’s also a craft beer bar so definitely get a beer, but note that despite being small and easy to miss, locals know about it and they line up early. There’s no reservations, so sometimes that means a wait.
Grand Central Oyster Bar is iconic and has managed to stay super-classy despite being located inside one of NYC’s most popular tourist attractions. Come here for the ambience and the architecture, and of course, stay for the oysters. Also, consider coming during rush hour when commuters are flitting to and from trains – the people watching will be unbeatable.
Located in The Ace Hotel in the Nomad neighborhood of Manhattan is The John Dory Oyster Bar. Far from your beachside fish shack, it’s an upscale, swanky oyster bar that will make you feel fancy. This place has been around for a while and hasn’t gone out of style – if anything, it’s simply become a timeless classic.
Chelsea market can be crowded and overwhelming, but a respite from the storm can be found at its oyster and raw bar, Cull & Pistol. It’s connected to The Lobster Place which is NYC’s largest purveyor of live lobsters, so you know they’ll have lots of variety and optimal freshness. The place isn’t flashy, trendy, or cool, but the oysters are simple and perfect.
If you’re looking for ambiance, you can’t do better than Grand Banks – NYC’s oyster bar on a sailboat. Located on the west side of Downtown Manhattan, there’s no better place to catch the sunset on the water while slurping oysters and sipping rose. It’s a classy place with a good-looking crowd, and if you don’t come early expect to wait a bit. But it’s all more than worth it, as eating oysters on the water is an experience everyone should have.