It’s the oysters on fluted half shells lying in a bed of crushed ice delivered via a gleaming silver platter. It’s the explosion of brininess that gives way to subtle sweetness on your tongue. There are few culinary experiences quite as decadent as oysters. It’s no wonder we are drawn to these delicacies time and again.

With more than a handful of cold, salty estuaries and inlets tucked along the edges of Puget Sound, the Pacific Northwest is the perfect location for producing these gems of the ocean. It’s no surprise the Emerald City has embraced the region’s impressive variety of bivalves. Take a crack at these tasty morsels and explore Seattle’s lineup of excellent oyster bars to get your fill.

1. Taylor Shellfish Farms

Oysters are always straight-from-the-sea fresh at Taylor Shellfish Farms Oyster Bar. Credit: Taylor Shellfish Farms
Oysters are always straight-from-the-sea fresh at Taylor Shellfish Farms Oyster Bar. Credit: Taylor Shellfish Farms

Locally owned and operated for more than a century, Taylor Shellfish Farms is hands down one of the best spots in the city to slurp down a platter of the briny bivalves. Duck into one of their hip oyster bars scattered across the city for a variety of offerings sourced straight out of the Sound and Salish Sea. Sample the prized, smooth Kumamotos; buttery Virginicas (exclusive to Washington’s Totten Inlet) or the smoky fifty-cent piece sized Olympia oysters.

If you aren’t a fan of raw oysters, there’s also a rich oyster stew on the menu as well as mouth-watering baked and fried options. Can’t decide on which one to choose? Just ask your friendly server to share their oyster knowledge and point you in the right direction.

Adam H. Callaghan, the editor of Eater Seattle, attests “Taylor Shellfish’s oyster bars are fun and educational, the perfect place for visitors to sample a wide variety and learn a ton about one of the Pacific Northwest’s major culinary claims to fame.”

2. Westward

Eat oysters by the shore while soaking in stellar views. Credit: Stephanie Forrer
Eat oysters by the shore while soaking in stellar views. Credit: Stephanie Forrer

Spectacular panoramic views of the Seattle skyline. Crackling flames in beach side outdoor fire pits. AND plenty of fresh oysters. What’s not to love about the award-winning Westward? Cozy up in their creative, nautical-style digs and feast on a rotating selection of oysters. You’ll even get a map of where they were pulled from the water. Don’t forget to add an ice cold flute of champagne!

What’s more exciting than noshing on perfectly prepared oysters? Learning how to shuck ‘em yourself! If you’re looking for a fun date idea, swing by one of Westward’s bi-monthly oyster shucking classes. You’ll fine-tune your skills with one-on-one training and plenty of oysters. At the end, you’ll be rewarded with a variety of beverage pairings to whip up at your own oyster tasting bash.

3. Walrus and the Carpenter

The phenomenal Walrus and the Carpenter brings poetry and whimsy to your oyster obsession. Credit: Andy Lo
The phenomenal Walrus and the Carpenter brings poetry and whimsy to your oyster obsession. Credit: Andy Lo

Named after Lewis Carroll’s tragic, ironic tale of devious oyster consumption, Renee Erickson’s The Walrus and the Carpenter won’t require you to trick your food onto your plate like in the story. Situated in Old Ballard with a fun and lively vibe, the intimate restaurant is PNW dining at its finest.

Brave the wait (believe us, it’s well worth it!) at the buzzworthy spot and slide up to the bar to watch your server shuck an icy cold pile of bivalves in front on of you. Slurp oysters from locations all over Puget Sound, with everything from maro-ishis from Nordland to ridgebacks from Lilliwaup. Stay true to Carroll’s original poem and pair your shellfish with Seawolf bread, slathered with butter. Yum!

4. Tankard & Tun

A platter of oysters is the perfect complement to freshly poured pints.
A platter of oysters is the perfect complement to freshly poured pints.

Fresh caught seafood and craft beer. Umm, yes, please. When it comes to restaurants with local flavor, it doesn’t get any more Pacific Northwest than Tankard &Tun. Perched above its sister restaurant Pike Brewing, the bright space should be on your must-visit list for happy hour spots.

Grab a chair on the cozy brew deck and look out on the brewery’s six fermentation tanks while downing the daily selection of fresh oysters. Flavored with lemon zest, Pike Monk’s Uncle & Mountain Blue huckleberry mignonette, they are a taste of local goodness. Wash them down with a pint of one of the house-brewed drafts. While you can’t go wrong no matter which brew you choose, we recommend sipping on the Monk’s Uncle or Naughty Nellie.

5. Bar Melusine

Sample the bounty of the sea at Bar Melusine. Credit: City Foodsters
Sample the bounty of the sea at Bar Melusine. Credit: City Foodsters

If one acclaimed Renee Erickson establishment wasn’t enough, why not sweeten the deal with two? Head to Capitol Hill’s chic Bar Melusine for a low-key night out (fair warning, you might want to grab a shot or two for the ‘gram). Nosh on raw oysters or try them fried with Vadouvan curry aioli. Be sure to sample quintessential French fare – frites (aka double-fried French fries). Thick and crispy, they are sure to satisfy. Local ingredients combined to create inspired French cuisine? We say: Oui! Oui!

Stephanie Forrer of Eat, Drink Travel, Y’all! adds “Bar Melusine is Renee Erickson’s darling nod to the French Atlantic. Its charming sea green maritime theme, extensive oyster selection and whimsical cocktails make it absolutely lovely. (Pro tip: do cocktails and oysters here and then head next door to Bateau for a fantastic steak dinner).”

6. Shuckers Oyster Bar

A former 1930's haberdashery, Shuckers is one of our favorite spots for briny bivalves. Credit: The Fairmont Olympic Hotel
A former 1930’s haberdashery, Shuckers is one of our favorite spots for briny bivalves. Credit: The Fairmont Olympic Hotel

One of the oldest and most pre-eminent oyster bars, Shuckers is the place to go if you want to experience top-notch shellfish and old-school vibe. Housed at the foot of the magnificent Fairmont Olympic Hotel, the rich wood paneling and distinctive tin ceiling are as fabulous as the restaurant’s menu. Here, you’ll find at least a dozen different types of local oysters on the daily fresh sheet. Prepared in more than six different ways, eat them pan-fried, smoked or in other famous preps such as Olympic, Provencal, Rockefeller or Casino style. You can’t go wrong.

7. Elliott’s Oyster House

Slurp up any of the fresh varieties of oysters offered at Elliott's. Credit: Mike Urban
Slurp up any of the fresh varieties of oysters offered at Elliott’s. Credit: Mike Urban

Rated as “America’s #1 Oyster House” by Food and Wine Magazine, Elliott’s Oyster House on Pier 56 is an old-standby for good reason. An excellent choice if you want to expand your oyster horizons, the restaurant’s extensive oyster list boasts more than 20 varieties of fresh Pacific Northwest oysters.

You’ll find specialty species such as European Flat (introduced to the United States in 1947) as well as the West Coast native – Olympia. Try the South Sound Kumamoto and keep the local vibe going by pairing them with the Chateau Ste. Michelle Sauvignon Blanc. Did we mention the restaurant also happens to have outstanding waterfront views? Talk about a win-win!

8. The Brooklyn

Paired with an expertly crafted cocktail, the Brooklyn's oysters are the perfect refreshment. Credit: janettauh
Paired with an expertly crafted cocktail, the Brooklyn’s oysters are the perfect refreshment. Credit: janettauh

Located close to CenturyLink Field, the Brooklyn Seafood, Steak & Oyster House is an ideal spot to grab a snack or dinner before the big game. The Brooklyn caters to meat-lovers of all varieties, a favorite is the pepper-dusted beef tenderloin. They are also known for tide-to-table fresh oysters, sourced from Puget Sound, Hammersley Inlet, Willapa Bay and more.

Try the oyster sampler to experience the taste of each type of oyster available on the daily fresh sheet. All are deftly shucked, served on ice and presented with a selection of local wines and beers. Feeling fancy? Opt for the vodka & oysters. Indulge in four ½ oz. samples of vodka accompanied by four oysters and caviar. Hello, weekend!

9. Saltwater Fish House and Oyster Bar

Kick back with fresh oysters and a glass of crisp white wine at Saltwater Fish House & Oyster Bar. Credit: Scott Meis
Kick back with fresh oysters and a glass of crisp white wine at Saltwater Fish House & Oyster Bar. Credit: Scott Meis

After a day of gray whale watching and exploring in Langley, get a taste of the Salish Sea at Saltwater Fish House and Oyster Bar. Feast on a daily rotating selection of freshly shucked oysters, creamy clam chowder, classic fish and chips and lobster rolls that taste like they were shipped straight from New England. If that doesn’t make your mouth water, inventive small bites, such as house hot-smoked salmon nuggets and Rainier Beer steamed Penn Cove mussels surely will!

10. Hitchcock

Peruse the menu at Hitchcock for an array of locally sourced goodness. Credit: Scott Meis
Peruse the menu at Hitchcock for an array of locally sourced goodness. Credit: Scott Meis

Looking for another island escape? Hop on a Washington State Ferry for a cruise across the water to Bainbridge Island for a phenomenal culinary experience at Hitchcock. Just don’t blame us if you start planning your next visit after your first bite. Dine on a half or full dozen of fat Pacific oysters served with a classic mignonette and lacto-fermented hot sauce.

Next, put yourself in celebrity chef Brendan McGill’s hands and treat yourself to the tasting menu and wine pairing, which features an array of expertly prepared dishes crafted with unique, local ingredients. You’ll leave with a full stomach and phone chock-full of Insta-worthy photos!

Whether you’re searching for classic fare or unique bites, you’ll have a distinctly local oyster experience in Seattle. With a myriad of oyster types and preparations found all over the city, you don’t have to look far to find these incredible pieces-o-heaven on a half shell.

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Featured Photo: Andy Chilton