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oysters: what is the verdict about the best place to get them?

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emerilcantcook Dec 21, 2007 08:34 AM

I am heading down (escaping the snow of Montreal) to do some chowing at your wonderful town. One of my must eats is oysters in the half shell (I have only had them once, and I want more) and I have been reading about Felix's, Acme's, Dragos and Casamento's. If I had to chose one (or at most, two), which one would you recommend? Are there any other hidden secrets? What about places for cooked oysters?

I don't mind about the service, atmosphere or whether the waitstaff is grumpy; I simply care about the food itself. So please do not hesitate to recommend holes in the walls if the food is fresh; in fact I would take them over "fancy" places any time.

  1. the queen May 11, 2008 02:35 PM

    Go to either Felix's, or Acme's or go to both.
    You can't go wrong.

    1. u
      underworld gourmet May 11, 2008 09:42 AM

      My perferred form for bivalve consumption is fried. I recently have had good expeiences with same at Jack Dempsey's and at the Village Inn out in Harahan on Jeff. Hwy But summer and hot weather approaches, and the quality of our favorite shellfish will decline precipiitously---maybe better save those recs til next fall.

      1. b
        boltz2000 Jan 11, 2008 03:03 PM

        I used to go to Felix's because the line to get in at Acme across the street was always so long and I would think to myself those poor fools don't know what they're missing at Felix's. Then right after Katrina, when there were no lines anywhere, I tried Acme and thought to myself what a fool I had been for not waiting in line at Acme.

        5 Replies
        1. re: boltz2000
          Bill Hunt Jan 11, 2008 04:58 PM

          Interesting how these two establishments, just across the street from one another (on one side) draw different folk. As I have mentioned, much of my family chose Felix's, while the others were Acme die-hards. They argued the merits of each, but they'd go their own way, when in the FQ, meeting up at CdM for coffee afterwards.

          I have always preferred Felix's, but that is probably because my mother insisted that I accompany her there, while other family members went across the street.

          Hunt

          1. re: Bill Hunt
            the queen Jan 15, 2008 06:47 AM

            ACME Hands Down.......No Question.

            1. re: the queen
              b
              Blumie Jan 16, 2008 05:46 AM

              Actually, the 27 posts in this thread suggest that there very much IS a question!

              1. re: Blumie
                m
                mikemill Jan 18, 2008 06:17 AM

                So I went to Casamento's last night, and I had a fantastic oyster loaf with a dozen raw. My issue, though: are the oysters there always so dirty?!?!?!?!

                1. re: mikemill
                  the queen May 11, 2008 07:23 AM

                  If they were "dirty" why was it fantastic?

        2. e
          emerilcantcook Jan 1, 2008 09:47 AM

          Thanks everyone. We ended up going to Felix, twice. Casamento and Drago's didn't work for various reasons and Acme had a huge line of tourists (which we took as a bad sign). Some of the other places sounded interesting but we didn't have the means to travel outside the FQ that much. We also had our fair share of poboys and other goodnesses; but the winner of the trip was the raw oysters, with just a little bit of horseradish and lemon (say no to ketchup please). I wrote a full report (need to warn you that it is very long) on the trip on a separate topic. Thanks again. I already miss NOLA and can't wait to visit again.

          1. c
            cporre Dec 29, 2007 04:58 PM

            Hi. Love your username. Drago's best for char-grilled oysters. Acme best for half-shell. Use lots of lemon!! Icy cold. Only drink beer with. Enjoy!!!!! Go Senators.(HA)

            1. Bill Hunt Dec 23, 2007 05:19 PM

              I still have fond memories of my mother doing 3 doz. half-shell, at Felix's. Half of my family loved Acme, but the other half swore by Felix's. This is for raw, and others have great recs. for various cooked preps.

              Hunt

              7 Replies
              1. re: Bill Hunt
                speyerer Dec 23, 2007 06:53 PM

                I had my first raw oyster in the late 40's at The Pearl on St. Charles Ave.

                1. re: Bill Hunt
                  h
                  hazelhurst Dec 30, 2007 05:28 AM

                  It is fun to watch the pendulum swing: in the 1960's, Felix's was THE place. IN the 1970's, everyone trotted across the street to Acme(I agreed with the verdict then but, in truth, preferred the Half Moon or Pearl). Then Felix began to get the nod again. I think Acme has suffered from its expansion--not necessarily in quality(although the one in Covington has been dreadful on my few visits--still better than other junk there, though) but just in the perception of Corporate Expansion (cf Doe's eat-Place). At the risk of setting off a Food Network producer who will send out an exaggerated Southern-Accent-ed "chef" ("PEE-can pie, y'all") on some faux-insider excursion, I will say that a La State Oyster Shucker winner told me that he gets the Wildlife and Fisheries map of the Oyster Zones and watches the weather to see where it has rained and where the rivers are swollen and then what zones they drain into. He allows a few days after the oysters have been washed through in order to get the salinity back and then searches the places with the oyster bag tags for whatever zone he thinks is good.

                  An often overlooked oyster place is The Fair Grounds. I hate the plastic trays but the oysters all always good..even better when you are holding both horses (boxed exacta) in a photo finish.

                  1. re: hazelhurst
                    h
                    Hungry Celeste Dec 30, 2007 06:45 AM

                    I'm a big fan of asking the shucker about the oysters' zone of origin, too. 'Course, this approach requires some knowledge of local geography, and some shuckers don't care enough about what they're doing to help you out much. The FG oyster bar is one of the universe's perfect spots, isn't it? Even if your pony is an overgrown wharf rat who runs out the Mystery St. gate...as mine always seem to be.

                    Here's a vote for Harbor Seafood, a strictly locals joint in Kenner on Williams Blvd. The parking lot is made of oyster shells, 'nuff said. Zero atmosphere, unless local color counts as decor. The price can't be beat...as little as 25 cents apiece some days during happy hour.

                    1. re: Hungry Celeste
                      c
                      Clarkafella Dec 30, 2007 07:06 AM

                      Harbor is "strictly locals"? Not quite- almost everyone I know makes Harbor either their first stop upon arrival, or the last stop before leaving New Orleans- at least when they are flying. Middendorf's serves the same purpose when driving...

                      I thought that Harbor Seafood was the one place in town that us tourists were keeping secret from the locals! 8-)

                      1. re: Clarkafella
                        h
                        Hungry Celeste Dec 31, 2007 05:21 AM

                        Okay, it's not exactly undiscovered, but listen carefully next time you visit Harbor: those aren't exactly tourist accents from the folks hanging on the bar. Da hawt a' Kenna, all gathered 'round.

                      2. re: Hungry Celeste
                        Bill Hunt Dec 30, 2007 01:56 PM

                        This is OT - to the max, but I loved the description of your filly-of-choice! Great reading and a laugh-out-loud moment. Wife thinks that I have declared Wine-Thirty early...

                        Thanks,
                        Hunt

                        1. re: Hungry Celeste
                          h
                          hazelhurst Dec 30, 2007 02:42 PM

                          Well, I'm preaching to the choir, Celeste, but we are in agreement about just about ever-thing. Da Track is one of the most gorgeous places in the universe...even if your nag is running our onto Esplanade..(I remember one time, when Tony bently was still calling out there, I got "a call" for my horse RIGHT AWAY, after the ponies broke. It was thrilling and I KNEW I had the front runner. I forget the pony's name but we'll make it up....Tony said "Lucky Lindy [my horse! what a thrill!] has dropped his rider in the slot!" Oh, well, off to Liuzza's......

                          It's a fun life, ain't it?

                    2. b
                      Burgoober Dec 22, 2007 07:19 AM

                      For ersters on the half-shell, it's gotta be Casamento's, though Pascal's Manale has a pretty great erster bar too.

                      I've also had very good ones at the Bourbon House.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Burgoober
                        speyerer Dec 22, 2007 06:02 PM

                        Are "ersters" a particular type of oyster?

                        1. re: speyerer
                          j
                          JerseyNOLA Dec 23, 2007 02:28 PM

                          simply the local “Yat” pronunciation for oysters.

                      2. Monch Dec 22, 2007 06:53 AM

                        ECC,

                        I've seen some of your posts and we seem to have Madison, WI and NOLA in common!

                        Might want to take a look at my post entitled "Wisconsin boy's NOLA guide...." and give me your opinions.

                        Oysters: Had my best at Felix's, so I'll join that bandwagon. Please stand at the bar and have them shucked to order. Those served at the tables are pre-shucked. Now that I've "found" Felix's, I'll choose it over Acme every time.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: Monch
                          e
                          emerilcantcook Dec 22, 2007 08:59 AM

                          Thank you so much! It is fantastic and I already printed and will carry it with me. I very much miss NOLA takeout at Regent Street in Madison; I lost my virginity to oysters, pecan pie, jambalaya and etouffee there and I cannot imagine how great it would be to eat those dishes right at the heart of NOLA.

                          Thanks for everyone else as well. I'll try to report when I come back. It looks like I have to make at least two stops for oysters, even more; it is a hard decision to make.

                          1. re: emerilcantcook
                            m
                            moh Dec 31, 2007 05:43 AM

                            Have a great trip!! I'm so jealous! I was supposed to go there in november but the trip got cancelled for various reasons! Don't forget that an oyster po-boy makes great airplane food for the ride home.... as do beignets. Eat well.

                        2. b
                          Blumie Dec 21, 2007 09:33 PM

                          I think you can safely conclude from the responses in this thread that wherever you happen to be is where you'll find the best oysters! I agree with all who recommend sitting at the oyster bar. Make sure you chat up the shuckers, and they'll be sure to take care of you.

                          1. i
                            iknowwhatitmeans Dec 21, 2007 07:48 PM

                            I stumbled on this place 1/2 hour outside of our fair city. The Oyster Rockefeller soup makes it worth a trip. Mostly just local fishermen go there for a fancy meal - the foodies haven't found it. here's a video about them:
                            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I5rI73...

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: iknowwhatitmeans
                              i
                              ichabodsdad Dec 23, 2007 07:26 AM

                              Victoria Inn. Right down the road from another of our favorites-Voleos.

                            2. sirvelvet Dec 21, 2007 05:33 PM

                              For cooked oysters, virtually nothing can beat the char grilled oysters at Drago's. The Metairie location is better.

                              For raw oysters, there are several choices. No matter which you choose it is essential to order and eat at the bar. You will get the best oysters and that way you can guarantee they are fresh shucked. Your best locations are, in no order, Casamento's, Pascal Manale's, Acme (French Quarter), and Cooter Brown's. I have never been impressed with Felix's. Have a great visit!

                              1. p
                                pterostyrax Dec 21, 2007 02:54 PM

                                No question - Drago's now open at the Hilton next to Riverwalk. The single best piece of food I have ever put in my mouth. For fifteen years I tried to get my wife to eat oysters, to no avail. One visit to Drago's and she now orders a dozen every time we go there, and is probably working herself up to her second dozen at one seating.

                                1. grlmxr Dec 21, 2007 02:52 PM

                                  I love the oysters at Mat & Naddie's in the Riverbend area. (Grilled Oysters with Brie Cream and Shiitake 'Bacon'
                                  with olive oil and garlic and laced with pecorino-romano
                                  http://www.matandnaddies.com/web/) You'll want to have plenty of bread to sop up the juice.

                                  -----
                                  Matt and Naddie's Restaurant
                                  937 Leonidas Street, New Orleans, LA 70118

                                  1. j
                                    JazzyB Dec 21, 2007 12:46 PM

                                    Raw on the 1/2 definitely Felix's and stand at the bar. Horsereadish is killer so be careful. Best oyster poboy is at Bozos in Metairie. Casamentos #2. Their cold ones are also good. Dragos charbroiled are really good. The Metairie location is better than the one in the Hilton.

                                    1. b
                                      bronwen Dec 21, 2007 10:04 AM

                                      The Vieux Carre restaraunt on Chartres is touristy but they do have the best barbeque oysters I think.

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