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East Coast Oysters

I love freshly shucked oysters but I'm starting to worry because I rarely really enjoy east coast oysters (with the notable exception of Belons from Maine); by contrast I just love most oysters from the west coast (BC's Fanny Bay being a recent favorite).

What oysters from the east coast would you 'Hounds recommend? If you like I'd also be interested in hearing what other oysters around the world are really good.

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  1. Malpeques (sp) from the east coast of Canada are excellent. Small and sweet.

    I don't know which come from which coast but:
    Fanny Bay (yea local!)
    Evening Cove
    Chef Creek (BC I beleive)
    Effingham Island (BC)
    Caraquet (Nova Scotia)

    Those are the ones I can remember. BUt I think lots are from the West coast.

    4 Replies
    1. re: starlady

      That's a great list, thanks. Vancouver is one of my favorite places (also liked Victoria), I wouldn't mind moving to BC at all.

      1. re: steinpilz

        If you get here to BC, I'll take you to "oyster Happy hour" which is actually 3 hours long. It rocks. Buck an oyster from 3-7 weekdays! YUM!

      2. re: starlady

        Just a note, Caraquet is in northern New Brunswick.

      3. blue points are special. maybe the best oysters available in north america. they reach their peak in march/april. take the time to find a top fishmonger. in stamford, connecticut the restauarant ocean 211 does an outstanding job in that time-frame. outside of the sweet-spot, head to shaffer city in manhattan - consistently good selection of east/west-coast oysters. best place for a taste-off.

        7 Replies
          1. re: hotoynoodle

            I agree, the oyster bar is a great geat place.

            1. re: steve h.

              I agree with the Blue Point suggestion. Be aware however these can sometimes run a bit larger and from the orig. post perhaps smaller ones are preferred here. Myself I like the larger bluepoints. Also in a different area, but along similar size lines are the gulf coast Appalachacola's. Those are really nice as well.

              1. re: Jambalaya

                I had some great blue points recently (also Hood Canal), larger and tasty as advertised, thanks for the recommendation.

              2. re: steve h.

                Steveh is correct. Blue Points are God's velvety little gift to us. If my gran were still alive, I'd have no problem selling her for her weight in BPs. (Sorry, Gran, but you've lived your life and we've got to focus on priorities here.)

                I've tried Kumomotos, Fanny Bays, et al. All fine oysters, but while my heart is still in northern CA and the PacNW, my appetite for oysters is firmly on the Atlantic.

                The place to eat them in central coastal CA is at Pelican Point restaurant in Shell Beach/Pismo on 101, right between the two Best Westerns and across the highway from McClintock's.


                1. re: KenWritez

                  Update: Tonight we're staying in Shell Beach and we just got home from dinner at Pelican Point. I had the raw oyster appetizer because they were Blue Points, and I've never had plumper, larger, richer-tasting oysters than these. I had to cut them in 1/2! Next time we go there before we leave, I'm ordering these for starter, entree and dessert.

              3. Oyster season in the Southern states is October-March. That's when you get the freshest.

                12 Replies
                1. re: mojoeater

                  southern states often sell gulf oysters which i never really liked.

                  atlantic oysters tend to be more briny whereas pacific tend to be more creamy. while i love kumomotos and had stunners from winter bay alaska, i love wellfleets and pemmaquids.

                  1. re: hotoynoodle

                    I was actually thinking of the oysters gathered all along the Outer Banks of NC/SC. I even know locals that pave their driveways with oyster shells. What kind of oysters are they?

                    1. re: mojoeater

                      I had oysters on the outer Banks, they were pre-shucked and I was more or less pre-foodie at the time so I don't know what kind they are.

                      1. re: steinpilz

                        sorry, for being a seaboard dum-dum. pre-shucked? dead?

                        1. re: hotoynoodle

                          we get jars of eastern and pacific oystrs from the supermarkets-packed in their juice. SO makes oyster shooters or I make stuffing at Xmas.

                          Love Bluepoint, Hog Island from Tomales Bay in N. CA are my absolute favorite. One year we drive to the farm and ate oysters straight from the beds. It was pouring rain and we were alone except for a van load of Japenese tourists who were kind enough to loan us their shucking knife.
                          When we are in Florida, my sister and her husband bring a bushel from Appalacha...in a cooler and we eat them for a week with margaritas. Oh my!

                          1. re: hotoynoodle

                            These were plastic containers of shucked oysters weighed by the fishmonger, I'd assumed that they were local and this was a local style. I still see oysters that are available this way, never considered that they might not be local.

                            1. re: steinpilz

                              funny, i've seen plastic tubs of frozen oysters in chinatown and it never occurred to me to buy them since a few blocks away i can get them fresh.

                              1. re: hotoynoodle

                                I think they were fresh and local but this was back in the mid-80s so my memory is a bit vague. I was with a crowd of grad students who'd rented a beach house and wanted oysters, it was the only kind available in the local fishmarket. I wouldn't buy these today as I love fresh oysters in the shell.

                                1. re: hotoynoodle

                                  Pre shucked oysters are pretty common in fish markets and even at oyster factories. People like them for the convenience, or they can't open oysters themselves. I'd guess a lot of restaurants that serve fried oysters buy pre shucked.


                                  This is a great spot a little N of San Francisco..just beautiful. Right at the farm, they sell on the 1/2 shell..or pint/quarts of preshucked.


                                  Bluffton Oyster Company (SC) sells a lot of preshucked..also a good take if you're in the area.

                                  Drake's Bay oysters are far superior.

                                  Back to the original poster, I know you're in Boston. Try B &G or Neptune and they will offer a great variety of East and West coast. I regularly go and just have them pick an assortment.

                                  I personally like Wellfleets, Duxbury, they had some from RI and Maine,; but I don't recall the exact names/locations.

                                  West Coast..Drakes Bay are great..it's right next to Tomales Bay..Fanny Bays..

                                  I prefer Carolina or Gulf oysters fried as opposed to 1/2 shell.

                                  1. re: 9lives

                                    Thanks 9lives, I've been to B&G and Neptune and agree that they are great for oysters. I just thought I'd post here to see what other people thought and to get some suggestions.

                        2. re: hotoynoodle

                          Why do so many people dislike gulf oysters? As far as I know, almost every oyster that I had ever eaten for 45 years came right out of the gulf- and most were wonderful! Now that I have been able to sample some from other areas, none have ever seemed to be particularly better, just different.

                          Admittedly though, it does seem like oysters from colder waters might be better somehow...

                          1. re: Clarkafella

                            I haven't had as many gulf oysters, maybe they're not as available in the NE, but I greatly prefer Pacific oysters to eastern and gulf (there's just more flavour). As fresh oysters are served on ice maybe warm weather and water might also create some sort of bad associations for southern oysters.

                      2. Oysters are being reestablished (farmed and now wild too) in the Damariscotta River in Maine. It's great being able to get "local" fresh and sweet oysters in area restaurants and for home use.


                        1. IMHO the best oyster on the east coast is the Fisher Island Petite.
                          Float raised (so they're really clean), small, deep cups, sweet and juicy. Of all the oysters on the half shell I've had they are still the best.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: chefstu

                            I'll look for these, they sound good. Thanks.

                            1. re: chefstu

                              This is exactly what I was going to post! Fisher island are some of the best tasting oysters I have ever had. I used to get them fairly frequently in nyc but they seem to be harder to find lately.

                              1. re: berna

                                Jolie restaurant on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn has Fisher Island oysters Wednesdays (or maybe that's just the kind that they have this week) for just $1 each!

                            2. wow, you guys really are chowhounds! i never even knew that there were different names for oysters, other than apalachicola.

                              i suppose that makes sense, place of origin - right?

                              not a huge oyster eater -- here in FL, i was still trying to figure out the 'R' month thing - i see now that evidently the colder the water, the better the oyster. then someone confused that even further with 'farm raised negates the R month thing'.

                              i don't eat 'em raw, so i suppose that shows that i'm definitely not in the know!

                              6 Replies
                              1. re: hitachino

                                YOu gotta try them raw. OMG divine! (no pun intended)

                                1. re: hitachino

                                  hitachino, I think you are ready for the trip to the raw bar to get past that "Twas a brave man...." hurdle, and into the better world of hoisting oysters. You have the curiousity and no dislike, so go for it. I also am in Florida where Apalachicola's are king, and they are darn good. If ever you can visit the Oyster Bar in Grand Central, you will be amazed as I was to see 10 to 20 varieties on the board on any given day, from all parts of North America. Fun to try a mixed dozen and really compare/contrast; can't do that in too many places. The real aficionado's seem to eat the sweet little Hudson Bay malpeques last, as dessert.

                                  1. re: hitachino

                                    the "r" rule was really about the fallibility of shipping back before fedex could ship oysters same day, packed in ice. modern shipping methods make this rule obsolete.

                                    however, the theory holds that colder water in colder months makes for more flavorful oysters. this may be the discontent i get from gulf oysters. always just seemed kinda bland and soft.

                                    1. re: hotoynoodle

                                      Actually the 'R"rule had more to it than just inadequate refrigeration and transportation capabilities in the past. The non-r-months are also when the North American waters are warmest, and subject to red tide and other algae blooms that can cause mollusks to be unhealthy for consumption. More careful monitoring of the conditions where oysters are harvested in the US has reduced but not eliminated this risk. Concerning a parallel thread about Mexican oysters, I doubt that such safeguards exist there, in addition to the fact that Mexican waters are warmer year-round. Hoister beware, although I have never been sickened by a Mexican oyster and I've eaten in the hundreds of them, many in summer months.

                                      1. re: hotoynoodle

                                        R is all about sex, not refrigeration.
                                        Oysters spawn in the warmer months which are also the months without Rs. Even if you ship them with ice, they are of lower quality during the spawning season, often referred to as "milky" or watery." They aren't as meaty, salty or dense. Oyster beds are often murky and cloudy from the eggs in the water as they develop into larvae. Many areas suspend commercial oystering during this period as a conservation method.

                                        1. re: MakingSense

                                          This is the true reason. And it's why summertime is clam eating time, at least in the NYC area.

                                    2. In addition to Fisher Island, I would suggest these East Coast beds: Canada/Canadian Cup, Pickle Point (PEI); Island Creek (MA); Hog Island, Potowomut (RI).

                                      From the West Coast I'd go with: Chef's Creek, Golden Mantle (BC); Hood Canal, Hunter Point, Skokomish, Skookum (WA); Snowy Creek (OR); any Alaskan bed.

                                      BTW, were your Belons from Maine by any chance Spinney Creek flats? Years ago I had a half dozen with a single malt as "dessert" - truly exceptional - unfortunately quite hard to find; these compare quite favorably to Westcotts.

                                      7 Replies
                                      1. re: TheDescendedLefticleOfAramis

                                        Thanks for those suggestions. I had the Belons at the Oyster Bar in Grand Central and they were from Maine, I don't know if they were Spinney Creek but they were really good -- that's a nice dessert you describe.

                                        1. re: steinpilz

                                          I find the "peat" of an Islay a good complement to half shells, though I normally back with a ash-dry martini.

                                          MakingSense : on the "R" topic, "sex' 'n then some ... check out the "triploids":


                                          1. re: TheDescendedLefticleOfAramis

                                            Oy vey, sterile GM oysters. Like eating mules...
                                            I suppose it's OK as a commercial enterprise. I usually just switch to other seafood during the summer months.

                                            As long as we beat down that refrigeration story. It's always about SEX.

                                            1. re: MakingSense

                                              I go littleneck - long neck during the dog days myself.
                                              The french sites on "triploids" are "ooo-la-la" (truly a piss).

                                              1. re: TheDescendedLefticleOfAramis

                                                I'll have to look for the French reaction to Genetically Modified oysters. They must be having fits. Like US scientists inventing low-cal champagne or fat-free foie gras. The Euros are sooooo anti-GM.

                                          1. re: jungleboy

                                            Tomales Bay is probably the most familiar association of Hog Island.
                                            The oysters listed here, however, may not be ...


                                            FWIW, there are also oyster beds in the vicinity of Hog Island ME and LA.

                                        2. I tend towards smaller west coast oysters myslef but am always on the lookout to try one's from the east. One of my favorites however are Wellfleets from Cape Cod, MA. Give them a try - I think they are fantastic.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: snailBKLYN

                                            Totally agree on Wellfleets...the king of East Coast oysters

                                          2. I love Chincoteagues. They are similar to Wellfleets, but a little more briny. They are hard to find outside of the DC area though.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: norwoodhound

                                              Another vote for the Malpeques - they're usually from Prince Edward Island. They're especially nice with a mignonette sauce, and a good Voigner.

                                            2. I thought all east coast oysters were the same species -- Crassostrea virginica.

                                              As a historical footnote, those from New York City were, a hundred and fifty years ago, the most famous in the world. Dickens wrote about NY oyster restaurants: "In no part of the world have I ever seen places of refreshment so attractive" And after that chowhounds from all over the world sought them out.




                                              1. East coast oysters...

                                                Wellfleets are the yum and Raspberry Points from Prince Edward Island are my absolute fav's...