With a bounty of amazing shellfish being harvested from the Puget Sound, the Emerald City is one of America’s best spots for bivalves.
The cold, salty inlets and bays fissuring the edges of Puget Sound are prime real estate for oyster farming. Dozens of streams and rivers, assisted by the area’s famous rain, carry rich nutrients to these filter feeders, and strong tides and currents deliver fresh breaths of oxygen.
The region’s many oyster farms grow just about every type of bivalve imaginable, from the area’s small gem of a native oyster, the Olympia, and the creamy Kumamoto—an ideal bite for beginners—to the large, salty Virginica and beyond. Each oyster tells the story of where it was grown, thanks to the subtleties of the microclimates where they were raised.
Seattle’s oyster bars and restaurants wholeheartedly embrace the region’s aquatic bounty. And though it’s fairly easy to find oysters almost anywhere in the city, not every spot is created equal. So shuffle off that raincoat, and belly up to these top-notch oyster bars.
Taylor Shellfish in Seattle
This local collection of oyster bars is run by the eponymous shellfish company, which has built itself into one of the most respected names in Pacific Northwest oyster farming. The location in Seattle’s historic Pioneer Square is perhaps the best pick of the bunch, whether you’re headed for an after-work bite or filling up before a game at the stadiums a short walk away. The interior retains many original details, like brick walls and wood floors, setting the perfect backdrop for local oysters, original cocktails, craft beer, and other seafood picks like geoduck sashimi and Manila clams.
The Walrus and the Carpenter
There’s usually a line forming outside the Walrus and the Carpenter before it opens—and for good reason. This is simply one of the best restaurants in Seattle, whether you slurp an oyster or not. Run by oft-awarded chef Renee Erickson, the small restaurant combines the best Pacific Northwest cuisine with French Atlantic cuisine, so naturally that means oysters are a focal point. Wire baskets of oysters on ice line the bar, usually comprising half a dozen different varieties, all of which are the perfect complement to a meal of steak tartare, uni, grilled local vegetables, and artisan cheeses.
Dip into this old-school oyster bar and restaurant at the base of downtown’s majestic Fairmont hotel. Shuckers’ dark wood interior, tin ceiling, and overall clubby feel are hints that this spot was a haberdashery in the 1930s. Now, though, it’s all about the seafood, with a daily fresh sheet of just-caught fish, plus a dozen different types of local oysters. Down them raw, or opt for smoked, pan-fried, Rockefeller style, and more. Anything you choose pairs well with the cocktail list—mostly spins on originals—a scotch flight, or a glass of Chablis Premier Cru.
Perched on the northern side of Seattle’s Lake Union, with houseboats and skyline in view, Westward is a damn fine spot to slurp raw oysters. Your options here include a place at the oyster bar, where the insightful experts will give you an education as you eat; on the waterfront patio, where Adirondack chairs encircle the outdoor fire pits; or in the main dining room, where you can make a full meal of exceptional Mediterranean-focused fare. Arriving by boat? Westward has a private dock with spots reserved for guests.
Shaker + Spear
Don’t let the fact that this is a hotel restaurant scare you away. The stunningly designed Shaker + Spear, nested just off the lobby of the Kimpton Palladian hotel downtown, melds wood and steel and moody lighting with perfectly executed seafood dishes. The open kitchen is the centerpiece here, and dishes like steamed clams with fennel sausage, Arctic char with cauliflower and polenta, and scallops with chanterelle succotash go perfectly with a dozen raw oysters. Shaker + Spear isn’t known for its variety, but here they’re guaranteed to be part of a memorable meal.
Ballard Annex Oyster House
Maritime-themed Ballard Annex Oyster House is the perfect cozy spot to kill a few hours on a rainy day. There’s soup, bisque, and chowder aplenty, and all dishes lean heavily on seafood. Behind the bar, piles of oysters sit on ice, and tanks gurgle with Dungeness crab and lobster. You can choose to slurp your oysters raw, or opt for Rockefeller style or grilled with garlic-herb or fennel butter. Local beer and a selection of bubbles round out the drinks side.
Duke Seafood & Chowder
This local chain of casual chowder houses has gone upscale with its recent opening in Bellevue. The interior is billed as “Filson meets Ralph Lauren,” with a high-end fishing-lodge feel, exposed timbers, vintage boats, and leather seating. Owner Duke Moscrip has emphasized sustainability since before it became a trend, and he personally meets the fishermen he sources from. Diners are greeted with a large display of fresh seafood near the entrance and can choose from among six raw oyster options. There’s an “Oysters Duke-efeller” option, too, which is the restaurant’s twist on the buttery, broiled oysters Rockefeller.
Source: Robb Report