The oysters found locally are largely oysters from the Gulf, sometimes from nearby, more often from further east, Louisiana, Alabama and Florida. The more flavorful oysters from the northeastern waters and the Maritime provinces of Canada are also pretty widely seen, though more expensive, even up to $4 an oyster now. Nicely, most places that serve oysters also have a happy hour with cheaper prices, and an easier way to sample the more interesting appellations.
And raw oysters lend themselves to happy hour, with a cold, lager beer or several at a comfortable, humble bar. I prefer a crisp white wine, its classic companion featuring plenty of salinity, Muscadet, or something a little heftier. At a Bordeaux tasting recently, a producer described his basic white wine as something that’s perfect the morning after a long night when you are having a dozen oysters to start the day.
Continuing the French inspiration, the local raw bar description includes seafood towers that originated in the plateau de fruits de mer – found at the more expensive restaurants here – an array of mostly raw and chilled shellfish with accompanying sauces, most compositions having some nods to the area. One can be a spectacular way to start a meal, if necessarily pricey.
The best twenty-five raw bars in Houston are listed alphabetically below.
Posted on February 27, 2023.
Acme Oyster House – Though the mostly fried fare on the menu at this outpost of the touristy French Quarter spot can easily be ignored, the utilitarian dining space of this former theater works well as a place to slurp freshly shucked Gulf oysters. Montrose
Brasserie 19 – The bar remains a popular destination here and East Coast, Gulf and even West Coast oysters on the half shell can complement the wines. For the table, there are also the seafood towers with oysters, lobster, tuna tartare, shrimp, and blue crab claws. River Oaks
Brennan’s – A fixture just off the spur in Midtown since 1967, with roots in New Orleans, oysters are part of its DNA. Top appellation Gulf oysters are now $36 a dozen and the East Coast ones are $40. The freshly shucked raw oysters, boiled jumbo shrimp, crab fingers, Crab Ravigote, and a red snapper ceviche are features in the seafood platters and towers. Midtown
Caracol – This is the seafood specialist in the quartet of H-Town Restaurant Group’s top-flight Mexican restaurants and you can expect it’s raw bar selections are interesting. The Gulf oysters on the half shell come with salsa bruja, a spicy flavored vinegar, and a charred lime half, $18 for a half-dozen and $36 for a dozen. It’s grand Seafood Tower have raw oysters, mussels, jumbo shrimp, ceviche, a Mexico City style campechana, lobster tails, crab fingers, clams, costeño aioli, a canario mignonette and cocktail sauce. Galleria Area
Eugene’s – Gulf oysters on the half shell with cocktail sauce and horseradish are always worth a consideration to start here. For the daily happy hour – Monday through Friday from 4:00 to 7:00 and Saturday from 2:00 to 5:00 – these are $1.25 each and a dozen for $15. Montrose
Eunice – Featuring a purposed perch emblazoned with “Fresh Shucked Oysters,” those bivalves are taken seriously at this very adept, attractive Louisiana-inspired space. The well-sourced oysters aren’t cheap: $30 for a dozen with the “Specialty” ones are now $46. Oysters make it on to their seafood platter, of course, which also has tuna tartare, Royal Red shrimp, smoked fish dip, and a crab salad. Greenway Plaza
Gatlin’s Fins & Feathers – You can see the oysters being shucked here that come with horseradish and cocktail sauce and can be a good way to begin an evening meal. North Side
Golfstrømmen Seafood Market – With catch from the North Sea arriving at the start of the week, the seafood served here can be impressive, even the food court setting is not. The oysters can be quite interesting like the Belon oysters, though likely from Maine rather than Brittany. A dozen coming with lemon mignonette and a chili oil will set you back $38 now. Cheap oysters on Monday evenings. There are plenty of other raw options – bluefin tuna, salmon, red drum – and platters, too. Its Classic Seafood Platter has bluefin tuna, oysters, scallop, salmon, and crab and there are a couple grander options, too. This is a must-visit for a seafood lover. Downtown (Post Market)
Goode Co. Seafood – There’s always an attractive display of area Gulf oysters on the ready at these long-loved locally attuned spots. The chilled seafood towers in two sizes have a regional bent: Gulf oysters, jumbo Gulf shrimp, smoked redfish dip, the superb Campechana Extra, and blue crab fingers. West U, Memorial
La Lucha – With inspiration from the long gone San Jacinto Inn – a staple of many of our childhoods – in the hands of a skilled restaurateur, you can expect the oyster service will be of interest. A February menu had five Alabama appellations: Admiral, Grand Batture, Mon Louis, Murder Point, and Point Aux Pins. That’s not inexpensive, $3.75 a pop, from the Gulf. Served with cocktail sauce, pickle juice mignonette, fresh horseradish During happy hour, select oysters are $1.50 each, until 6:00 daily; opens at 4:30 during the week, but 10 in the morning on the weekends. Heights
Liberty Kitchen & Oysterette – A duo of pretty places with Gulf oysters for $3 a piece and the more flavorful East Coast ones at $4, or $48 a dozen. The seafood towers in a couple of sizes have mixed raw oysters, cocktail shrimp, a one-pound poached lobster, and an avocado crab cocktail. River Oaks, Memorial
Loch Bar – Fittingly plush spot for the address but that can still feel like it’s part of an out-of-town chain, this serves Maryland fare like cream of crab soup and crab cakes, but also in a grand way with striking chilled seafood towers in three sizes and up to $295 filled with East Coast oysters, clams, shrimp cocktail, mussels, king crab, Maine lobster and ceviche. East Coast oysters and River Oaks District
Margaux’s Oyster Bar – In Bravery Chef Hall just off Market Square, this features a well-informed staff, expert shucking and terrific oysters from the East Coast and elsewhere. Happy hour is Monday through Friday from 4:00 to 7:00 with $1 Gulf oysters. Downtown
McCormick & Schmick's – It’s been part of Landry’s for over a decade now, but it still sources an array of excellent oysters. Pink Moon from Prince Edward Island, Heart’s Desire and Johnny Shucks both from Massachusetts were recent offerings at the downtown location. These can be enjoyed a little differently, with yuzu jalapeño granita, pomegranate mignonette, house-made cocktail sauce. Downtown, Uptown Park, CityCentre
Navy Blue – The best of the city’s seafood-centric restaurants also does a very creditable job with oysters on the half-shell, at price, of course. The kitchen likes to cook here, so that’s the only raw preparation. Rice Village
Pappas Seafood House – A dozen Gulf oysters will be sure to satisfy at one of the trio left of the long-satisfying Pappas family seafooders. North Houston, Humble, Clear Lake
Ragin’ Cajun – The casual setting makes this an appropriate place to enjoy some freshly shucked Gulf oysters and you likely won’t be alone doing so while there. Greenway Plaza
Riel – The only menu option for freshly shucked oysters is four for $16 topped with an appealing coconut lime granita. Montrose
Relish – A handsome, comfortable place on Westheimer right near Kirby that might be too often overlooked by many dedicated diners. This includes its oysters on the half sell both from the Gulf and East Coast, $2.75 and $3.75 each, respectively, that are served with lemon, crackers, cocktail sauce, horseradish and a changing mignonette. River Oaks
State of Grace – Sporting The Oyster Room, a separate, beautiful tiled outlet apart from the rest of the restaurant, this River Oaks eatery, certainly has the most attractive and conducive setting for oysters and other chilled creatures from the ocean. There are a couple of enticing seafood platters and items like boquerones and a tuna crudo, but the emphasis is on oysters here. At the end of February 2023, a full dozen of oyster appellations were on hand, half from the Gulf, half from the East Coast. Pushing $4 each now, several are just $1.50 during happy hour that’s from 5:00 to 6:00 Monday through Thursday but much longer on Friday, from 11:00 to 6:00. River Oaks
The Oceanaire Seafood Room – Befitting its name, this upscale seafood chain’s shiny outpost in the Galleria takes the oysters and the raw bar concept seriously. The oyster offerings in late February were Cape Cod Bay, Mill Creek, Oceanaire Pearls, Shiny Sea, and West Port, all from Massachusetts and all $4 a piece. Quality is not cheap. There is also the Grand Shellfish Tower with oysters, shellfish cocktails, and much more. Galleria
Tommy’s Seafood Restaurant & Oyster Bar – Featuring Galveston Bay oysters…. The mignonette here is Champagne vinegar, white wine, crushed white peppercorns, diced shallots, diced jalapeños and chopped cilantro. Clear Lake
Weights + Measures – It’s just Gulf Coast oysters here, served with honeydew mignonette and micro mint. A dozen is $36. During happy hour is just $14 for a half-dozen and that’s Tuesday through Saturday from 3:00 to 6:00. Midtown
Winnie’s – Oysters can make a fine and well-sourced accompaniment to your cocktails at this casual, fun bar-restaurant. The Gulf Coast oysters are $18 for a half-dozen and the East Coast are $21. Montrose
Xochi – The Gulf oysters on the half shell come with a tomatillo mignonette and a charred lime half, $15 for a half-dozen and $29 for a dozen. Yet another temptation at this upscale Oaxacan-themed place and sibling of Caracol across from Discovery Green. Downtown
A seafood tower at State of Grace