If you love oysters, you probably don’t care too much which coast they come from, but the differences between taste, flavor and texture on can be vastly different–and it’s important to know what you’re ordering, though most good restaurants will guide you.
“The main difference is the salinity,” says Chris Meenan, Executive Chef, Blue Water Grill. “East Coast oysters are saltier than West Coast oysters. The Atlantic Ocean and East Coast estuaries have saltier water. On the East Coast, the oysters get saltier the farther south you move. Cold water changes an oyster’s metabolism and creates a sweeter, crisper flesh. West Coast oysters generally have smaller, deeper cups due to the different species.”
Adding to that, Jon Frazier, Associate Director at Bar SixtyFive at Rainbow Room says, “Due to the different ocean conditions, West Coast oysters have a scalloped or serrated shell edge, whereas East Coast oysters have a smooth edge. West Coast oysters are generally smaller in diameter, but are plumper and have a creamier, vegetable-like flavor with a low salinity. East Coast oysters tend to be larger in diameter, but are thinner and have a crispy, oceanic finish.”
Ready to feast on oysters all summer long? Click through our gallery above to see the best restaurants to get your fix on both coasts.
Grand Banks: This New York City spot is located on a boat--trust us, you'll feel like you're on vacation. They specialize in both wild-caught and sustainable oysters from both coasts, but also put a focus on oysters grown in and around New York City waters.
South Edison: Montauk, New York is heralded one of the best spots on the East Coast to get oysters, and South Edison continuously delivers. The menu is full of local seafood and produce, specializing in oysters from Montauk and Long Island.
Superior Seafood & Oyster Bar: For Creole infused versions of your favorite oysters, head here, to this New Orleans spot. The menu is extensive, and offers oysters on the half shell, char-grilled, Rockefeller or even wrapped in bacon.
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Mac's Shake: This Cape Cod spot epitomizes New England summers. They specialize in gorgeous plates of Wellfleet Oysters, which are considered some of the world's best. They're characterized by a plump, clean texture and a good balance of creaminess and brininess.
Swan Oyster Depot: This no-frills seafood shack in San Francisco, California attracts long lines during the summer--plus, it's been around for over a hundred years. They serve oysters and clams on the half shell, of local varieties.
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Elliott's Oyster House: Widely considered one of the best spots to get oysters on the West Coast, this Seattle spot has an extensive menu of different locally grown and caught varieties. The list of varieties on their website currently boasts 10 different types of oysters. They also pride themselves on shucking the oysters only after you order, which lends itself to fresher oysters.
Sea Chest Oyster Bar and Seafood: Located in Cambria, California, this small seafood restaurant has a very local feel. They serve local oysters on the half shell, but also oysters casino, oysters sauteed in wine and garlic and topped with bacon and even oyster stew.
Ironside Fish & Oyster Bar: The menu at this San Diego, California spot changes daily to ensure only the freshest fish and oysters are served. They currently offer a mix of local West Coast varieties, ranging from Hama Hama (WA) to Carlsbad Luna (CA).
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