New York City
Maison Premiere: Buzzy Williamsburg oyster house and drinking den that, with its horseshoe-shape bar, absinthe fountain, and suspendered bartenders, looks yanked from 19th-century New Orleans. Speakeasy ease done right.
The Mermaid Inn: The play here, at this East Village meets New England seafoodery (note the natty nautical wall art), is to start with the oysters and bubbly, then segue into the lobster sandwich. Your server will agree, as will the tables on either side of you.
The Hungry Cat: You’ll practically be purring after a dozen (or more) oysters—plus lobster, crab, and peel-and-eat shrimp—at this Hollywood raw bar, which sports slick interiors and a secluded patio area. Hot tip: All oysters are half-price on Mondays.
Salt Air: This serene-as-the-seashore neighborhood joint, clad in whitewashed brick walls with white Carrara marble tables, turns out plates of seafood so fresh they need a talking to.
Son of a Gun: With walls covered in maritime paraphernalia, this hip fish shack has a lively vibe and a seafood-focused menu where, if you closed your eyes and pointed, your finger might land on anything from oysters to mahi fish dip to hamachi collar.
Zuni Café: Cozy but cool Bay Area classic that draws its diners into leisurely, hours-long meals drenched in oysters and champagne because its joie de vivre makes everyone want to linger just a little longer. (That, and the famed chicken for two you’ll inevitably order as a main takes a while to roast.)
Hog Island Oyster Bar: In the iconic Ferry Building, this is the industrial-cool SF outpost of the Hog Island Oyster Co., which farms its own oysters in the cool waters of Tomales Bay.