[eat] where to eat oysters in seattle

One of the most oft-asked questions of a Seattle resident is “where can I get oysters?!” so it’s a good idea to have a list like this one to rattle off. Below, I analyze each spot and try to be objective as possible because I don’t actually like oysters all that much (the exception being the ones we had at Cicchetti during the seafood cooking class- I could have eaten a dozen of the small ones!).

Here are seven different oyster-serving establishments for you to enjoy:

Elliott’s Oyster House  – downtown 

Elliott’s is located right down on the Seattle waterfront, which I typically think of as the place where tourists go when they don’t know any better. There is a lot of effort right now to make this particular area into a world-class waterfront once the viaduct comes down and we install a tunnel – so there are some new reasons to head in this direction: to ride the Great Wheel, to go to the Aquarium, to ride a ferry and to enjoy Elliott’s progressive oyster happy hour.

Monday through Friday from 3-4pm, the chef’s choice of oysters are only $0.75. At 4pm and until 5pm, the price goes up a whopping $0.50 to $1.25, and at 5pm, the price goes up another fifty cents to $1.75 per oyster. If you’re not an oyster fan, there are plenty of other affordable things to snack on like mussels, salmon sliders, and fish tacos and drinks range from about $3 for beer, $4 for wine and $6 for martinis.

Elliott’s is a hot spot when the sun is shining as it features a patio that extends the length of the pier. It’s worth the wait if you’re dying for some vitamin D, and most sun-starved Seattle-ites are, so I’d recommend getting there early.

Taylor Shellfish – Melrose Market – Capitol Hill

Taylor Shellfish Farm’s Melrose Market location features live-seafood tanks and what I will describe as a fresh-seafood table that’s pumping water through different sections of shellfish. They have shellfish available for purchase (plus crab and lobster) as well as a couple of dine-in options which include freshly-shucked oysters and a chowder bar. If you’re into local and sustainable food (who isn’t?) then this is the place to go- you’ll want to make sure to browse the rest of the Market too!

Their Oyster Happy Hour (M-F from 2-4pm) offers 1/2-price oysters on the half-shell and they also host occasional in-house events with winemakers – and I also just discovered that you can rent the entire place for private parties of up-to-35 guests. How amazing would that be?

The Walrus & The Carpenter – Ballard

The Walrus & the Carpenter is another spot that I haven’t been to but always recommend to oyster-seekers. The menu changes daily but you can expect a good selection of oysters and other shellfish to be served up in a cozy setting in the South-end of Ballard, slightly away from the boisterous and rowdy establishments that make up most of Ballard Ave.

The Walrus & The Carpenter earned a #3 spot on Bon Appetit’s list of “Best New Restaurants of 2011” and I can’t wait to visit!

Frank’s Oyster House & Champagne Parlor – Ravenna

Oysters on the half-shell are only a $1.50 during happy hour (5-6:30pm and 10-11pm) at Frank’s Oyster House & Champagne Parlor, a place that I love simply because of the name and adore because of the decor when you step inside. Though it is decidedly off the beaten path (waaaaay over in Ravenna), it’s worth going to if you find yourself in that neighborhood.

Despite the name, Frank’s goes way beyond oysters on their menu and also serves up a pretty mean brunch and great cocktails that I’d recommend.

Seatown Seabar & Rotisserie – Downtown 

If you’re looking for a casual establishment owned by the best-known Seattle restaurateur you might want to consider visiting the Seatown Seabar, a piece of the Tom Douglas empire. Oysters are only $1.50 during happy hour and it’s located down in the Pike Place Market, so maybe you should take my sample tour of the Market before you go! There’s a little bit of everything at the Seabar – I spied  bibimbap as well as chicken pot pie and pork ribs on the menu, but you can trust in Tom Douglas’ food and I’m sure you’ll enjoy.

Coastal Kitchen – Capitol Hill

The Coastal Kitchen has just recently undergone a makeover and built themselves an oyster bar which I think addresses the dearth of oyster-eating establishments on Capitol Hill. The Coastal Kitchen’s model is to feature fare from different regions of the world on a rotating schedule, so you may be dining in Greece on your first visit and come back several months later and find yourself in New Mexico.

Take advantage of their “Two Buck Shuck” at the new oyster bar during happy hour and a pretty extensive seafood menu.

The Brooklyn – Downtown

The Brooklyn is a pretty safe bet if you’re in downtown Seattle. It’s located right by the Seattle Art Museum and Benaroya Hall and has a great happy hour featuring $1.50 oysters (in the bar only! and regularly $3) and they boast the largest rotating selection of oysters but I have no way of knowing if that is true or not. I do know that I always have a good time there and that it’s almost always packed, so go early!


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