I met the oysters of my dreams last week. Let me paint the scene - it was a cold, blustery day in Venice (the heatwave hadn’t hit yet). I’d just spent the last 45 minutes driving through moderately severe traffic from Chinatown to the Westside, exhausted after a long week of work, made even longer by the fact that I had just returned from time off for my birthday. I was in a weird mood, and in desperate need of something that was nice, fresh, and as close to a luxury as my paltry budget would allow.
Enter: the oysters of my dreams. I haven’t spent much time at Dudley Market, and I’m no mollusk connoisseur (I consider myself more as an appreciator), but there was something, just, different about these. Served on the half shell, they hailed from everywhere from Washington State to British Columbia. They were luscious and plump, like what I imagine kissing Tom Hardy’s lips would be like, creamier than anything found down the dairy aisle at a grocery store, and eating them sent me straight into a wonderful state of mind I’ve dubbed “feeling like a little prince.”
In short, I loved them. But if you’re not in the mood to wait around for a table in Venice tonight (Dudley Market doesn’t take reservations), or want to try something new, I’ve put together a list of 4 other LA restaurants serving oysters that too, will make you feel like a little prince.
As one would expect by the name, this Los Feliz seafood shop is one of the best places in LA to find oysters (see what I did there?) They’ve moved operations from their tight, disco ball-lit space to a new patio on the street, where you’ll have plenty of room to spread out and enjoy their excellent Little Namskaket oysters while basking in the bright-blue glow of the neighboring Scientology building. Many of them come from their enigmatic oyster shucker/server/GM, Joe’s family farm in Maine, and are tiny, sweet, salty, and about as clean-tasting as you’ll ever have. Order twice as many as you think you’ll want.
Whether you’re eating them in the car or on their alfresco patio, consuming the oysters at Broad Street will make you feel more like the cosmopolitan Californian you imagined you’d be, and less like the kind of person who regularly yells at other cars for not using their turn signals (while still not really using them yourself). The sunny Malibu coast will glisten in the background, the salty sea air will kiss your skin in a way that feels like it’s hitting on you, and the fantastic seafood shack will hook you up with a world-class selection of fresh oysters served over crushed ice. Which, by the way, does happen to taste really good in the front seat of a Toyota Corolla.
Not many people know this, but oysters are secretly the sleeper hit at Mariscos Jalisco. Sure, no order at the Boyle Heights truck is complete without their signature tacos de camaron, or a ceviche or two, but if you’re not throwing a few oysters in as well, you’re definitely missing out. They only cost $1 a pop (from open to close, it’s no Happy Hour special), and arrive nice and plump, accompanied by a juicy lime slice. But my favorite way to order them is in their campechana - served in a tall styrofoam cup, the rich tomato-based broth comes packed with an ocean’s-worth of shrimp, abalone, baby octopus, and an entire raw oyster. It’s shrimp cocktail in its ultimate form: a little heat, a touch of acidity, and again, one raw oyster.
And now we’ve arrived at the fun, Happy Hour option. As anyone with an insatiable oyster addiction (and slightly worrying financial situation) like myself can attest, falling in love with the sweet little mollusk comes at a price. Namely, having to pay $2-$4 for what can be described as “a bite” at most, then needing at least a dozen of them at a time. Get the best of both worlds at Tokyo Hamburg. Not only is this rowdy Japanese restaurant in Ktown one of our favorite places to spend a Friday night or impress out-of-towners, but they’ve also got one of the best Happy Hours in town. It runs all day, includes a wide range of sake, draft beer, and $1 oysters, which means you can have plenty of fun while saving up to finally buy a cool rug. Why are they so expensive?