Editor's Picks

Raw Deals: Houston's 11 Best Oyster Bars

'Tis the season to indulge in oysters.

By Katharine Shilcutt and Timothy Malcolm Published in the January 2016 issue of Houstonia Magazine

Brasserie 19 ric64m

Splurge on the plateaux de fruits de mer at Brasserie 19 for a little bit of everything.

B.B. Lemon

The bar at Benjamin Berg’s buzzy little shoebox of a New York-style hangout is the best place to be. It’s where you can order a bottle of dom pérignon or, naturally and more modestly, a Manhattan, while sorting through a dozen East Coast oysters. These might be more expensive than you’re used to, but they’re sourced from places like Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland, and Massachusetts—their brininess is their superpower.


One of the buzziest restaurants to open in Houston in some time, hotshot chef Aaron Bludorn’s namesake Fourth Ward eatery boasts the finest in Gulf Coast bivalves (they sure love Murder Points) from its raw bar, and they’re always prepared to be their best selves. Get them raw, fried with the caper-cut egg sauce gribiche, and roasted and served with watercress and parmesan for a sharp, nutty note to balance the richness.

Brasserie 19

Grab a bar seat at this swanky River Oaks bistro, and watch the pros do some shucking. A partnership with Island Creek Oysters, a farm in Massachusetts, keeps interesting East Coast varieties coming in all year, with Gulf and West Coast bivalves rounding out each daily market selection.

Captain Tom’s Seafood & Oyster Bar

If it looks like a boat, it’s probably Captain Tom’s. The drill here is simple: Get a seat at the horseshoe bar that dominates the space, or hope to slide into a counter-side chair against the windows of the main room. Then you’ll order to your heart’s content while your server shucks and peels. Captain Tom’s serves Gulf oysters on the half shell, along with gumbo, fried seafood, and stuffed crab. Always wash down your order with a famed michelada.

Eugene’s Gulf Coast Cuisine

In 2019 Kyle Teas opened this River Oaks restaurant, picking up from where his recently closed Danton’s left off. The old-school vibes are strong with wood paneling and vintage photos. Grab a seat at the cozy Oyster Bar at happy hour, when you can slurp down fat Gulf bivalves for just 90 cents each. Eugene’s also has some classic shooters. Consider draining a Boca Chica, in which a fresh oyster with chopped bell pepper, shallots, and lime juice is plunged into tequila.

Liberty Kitchen & Oysterette

The oyster bar near the Galleria packs in a posher crowd. In addition to standard selections from Texas and Louisiana waters, a pricier menu offers East Coast and special Gulf appellation oysters.

Pier 6 Seafood & Oyster House

How fresh do you want your oysters? Try gazing at the very boats that held them hours ago while slurping them down. Pier 6, located on the Houston Ship Channel in San Leon and owned by the same folks that operate leading Gulf distributor Prestige Oysters Inc., offers a range of region-local oysters with the occasional special from elsewhere. Executive Chef Joe Cervantez—formerly the man in charge at Brennan’s—brings out those oysters in a number of ways, whether grilled Rockefeller-style, stuffed with blue crab, or turned into a creamy chowder, with smoked bacon and leeks. 

1751 Sea & Bar

Michael Sambrooks of The Pit Room decided one day that Houston needed a place with a glut of gin and oysters, and he was right. The stunning 1751 has a worthy raw bar that specializes in East Coast appellations like Beau Soleil and Quonset Point, those colossal Rhode Island bivalves that look like Gulf Coast runaways. Pair your slurping soirée with one of the bar’s 100 gins—a martini is always a good choice here.

State of grace rrt0d9

The namesake State of Grace tower will feed an army of seafood lovers.

State of Grace

Houston native/celebrity chef Ford Fry made it big in Atlanta, with 12 successful area restaurants, but he's been home for more than a minute. In 2015 he opened an an elegant space that's reminiscent of a grand Southern seafood hall. Specializing in hard-to-find selections, such as Belons, the restaurant also boasts a large variety of Gulf oysters and an extensive menu of Third Coast cuisine. One of Fry's more recent restaurants, the Houston-only La Lucha, is inspired by the Gulf Coast and has some beautiful Murder Points, among other appellations.

Tommy's Seafood Restaurant & Oyster Bar

This popular Clear Lake-area oyster bar has been shucking for nearly 30 years. The vast menu offers bivalves fried and tucked into po’boys; served Rockefeller-style, with smoked Tasso ham; dropped in Bloody Mary shooters; and topped with cheese and crawfish, enchilada-style. If you prefer yours raw, don’t miss the mignonette with champagne vinegar, shallots, jalapeños, and white peppercorns.

Tony Mandola's

A true Houston dynasty, the Mandola family innately understands the Bayou City’s love of the bivalve, offering standards, like oysters Rockefeller, in addition to their own creations. Our favorite is the oysters Damian (fried and topped with fresh pico de gallo), but it’s also tough to pass up the Buccaneers (baked oysters topped with crab meat and garlic butter).


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