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Jul 9, 2011 01:54 AM

Which store has the highest quality oysters in Houston?

I'm relatively new to oysters, and love them on the half shell. I'd like to get some good ones to prepare at home, but I'm not sure about buying, storing, shucking, etc. I see oysters at my usual grocery store, Central Market (Yes, I know, they have confiscatory pricing), but I'm not sure what I'm looking at. Some general tips and advice would be welcome.

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  1. I rarely cook oysters at home because several places out this way do them really nice. Shrimp is a different matter, I've never eaten them anywhere that were better than my own. I have a shrimp man that brings fresh shrimp up the same day he catches them and that's where I buy mine now. But before he was around, I would drive down to Seabrook to Rose's Seafood. I just looked up their website and WOW, they have really come up in the world Fancy new place. It was a shack when I went. But the freshest seafood around. I was never disappointed. It will cost you though as all fresh seafood will, even in Walmart and it won't be so fresh elsewhere.

    There are several other fresh seafood places down there by Rose's so if you think you can do better price-wise, shop them all.

    So take a drive down to Seabrook, Stop and have some armadillo eggs at T-Bone Tom's. Bring your ice chest and load up at Rose's. I used to go in for shrimp but came out with several other things too. Just can't resist great fresh seafood.

    Just a side note, the best oysters I ever ate were chargrilled at Drago's in Metairie, La. I hear Gilhooley's down south of Seabrook does some great ones too but haven't made it down there to try.

    14 Replies
    1. re: texasredtop

      Does the old "Never eat oysters in months without "R's" in them" rule still apply? (i.e. May, June, July & August)

      I still avoid them, but it could be just superstition on my part.

      1. re: DoobieWah

        Definitely don't eat raw oysters from Gulf waters during the summer. The rule is November to April, with the peak oysters coming in December and January. Not only are they dangerous for certain people, including elderly and immuno-compromised, they TASTE BAD! Our oysters love cooler water and they are plump and sweet and briny in the winter. In warm water, they develop the bacteria Vibrio vilnificus = bad also. This does not apply to east or west coast oysters.

        Cook them if you like, though. I roll mine in Louisiana seafood coating and fry in peanut oil in my wok! Works like a charm!

        1. re: Lambowner

          Lambsy, thanks for covering the Vibrio, it can affect those with reduced immune systems, deaths do occur, but are rare. I'll ad that raw ones are good into March, a good rule is when the water temps hit mid 60's. Doobs, the old r month thing came before refrigeration. Once the railroads became prevelant in the mid to late 1800's they would put them in special boxcars that were iced to keep them cold. Now as to BenHardy, my favorite place to buy oysters is Louisiana Foods off N. Post Oak. They get them fresh from Galveston Bay and sell them buy the pound, really more like quarts and pints. They are a wholesaler, but have a small retail storefront open Monday-Friday 10am-3pm. Avoid 11-1 as they sell some pretty good lunches and it gets quite crowded. Checked the shucked date on the big tub they dip them out of, they last up to two weeks from that date, if you keep them iced in the fridge, you'll notice that tub is packed in ice. I put mine in the container they come in and put ice around them in a big bowl. They also sell them in sacks in the shell, but it's a pretty good quantity and a real mess to deal with. At first it seems economical, but there's always a couple of dead ones, plus a few that refused to open unless you throw them on the grill. A red mentioned, you can buy them in the Seabrook markets, and they usually sell smaller sacks, but the quantity is inferior to Louisiana Foods, with more dead ones. My advice is to get shucked ones at Louisiana Foods, and cook as you want. You won't tell the difference between the freshly shelled ones and the ones already shucked when cooking. I usually try to keep Louisiana Foods a secret, but honestly not many people read this so I don't think it will make a difference, just don't tell the whole world about this place.

          1. re: James Cristinian

            "Doobs, the old r month thing came before refrigeration. Once the railroads became prevelant in the mid to late 1800's they would put them in special boxcars that were iced to keep them cold. "

            Hey, We've MET! You know I'm not that old!

            1. re: James Cristinian

              I think Louisiana Foods is outed. Their trucks are all over town, delivering to restaurants!

              1. re: Lambowner

                True, but most people don't know about their storefront operation and some of the great lunches they serve, plus the retail seafood market.

        2. re: texasredtop

          Thanks for the tips. Since I posted this question I did some research on the web. I found YouTube videos about how to shuck an oyster, many sites saying the this "R" in the month thing no longer applies; when buying oysters, if their shell is open, tap it and it should close, if not the oyster is dead, (When eating raw oysters, you want to eat them alive), never store them in a closed plastic bag or submerged in water because you'll kill them, why you need to scrub the oyster shell before shucking, the importance of a good oyster knife, asking about the "harvest date" of the oysters, and many oysters in high quality stores are farm raised. Geez, I never knew eating an oyster at home was so complicated.

          1. re: BenHardy

            The hot months warning does apply. Serve half shells in July at your own risk!

            1. re: Lambowner

              Yes, again I agree with Lambsy, and as she pointed out earlier, east and west coast are ok. That reminded me of some really good blue points I bought at Airline Seafood on Richmond. Lots of chefs shop there. As far as the farm raises ones go, the might be ok, but do avoid any treated or pasteurized ones, vile creatures completely lacking in taste, and if you try to fry with them, the breading will not stick.

          2. re: texasredtop

            Texasredtop! I always buy my seafood at Rose's. When they rebuilt after Ike they really went up high, as did some of the other places along that stretch.

            Ate at Drago's in New Orleans Wednesday night. Those charbroiled oysters are amazing. Truly right up there on the best thing I ever ate list!

            1. re: Cookie Baker

              I know, they are just so delicious. I'll be there in about 10 days to get me some :-) The only thing I've ever eaten better than them are the bbq shrimp at Mr. B's.

              1. re: texasredtop

                Dined on the BBQ Shrimp at Mr B's the day before I visited Dragos. Back to New Orleans in August - already trying to plan my next wonderful meal.

                1. re: Cookie Baker

                  Do you go to Drago's at the Hilton or the original in Metairie? I always go to the one in Metairie but stay right across the street from the Hilton. I've heard the ones at the Hilton are inconsistent. Emeril's offers bbq shrimp, have you had them? I'm thinking about trying them too. For years I ate Pascal's bbq shrimp but after Katrina they became a little off and I switched to Mr. B's. Love Mr. B's the most.

          3. If you want to shuck them, buy a good oyster shucker, a short knife with a stiff, dull blade. Put a glove on the hand that you hold the oyster with, lay the fat end of the oyster face down, with the flat half face up. There should be a slight opening in the back of the oyster, the narrow part, get the knife in as far as possible, it could be as litlle as 1/8th an inch, and twiist the knife back and forth until it hopefully opens, slide the knife under the flat top part to cut the muscle holding to the shell, but don't spill the precious liquor from the bottom part. Cut the bottom muscle, and eat at once. I eat them as is, occasionly I'll put a touch of cocktail sauce on them. Or skip the whole process and head to Captain Benny's in the cold months. I've found they have the best oysters at the best price.


            1 Reply
            1. re: James Cristinian

              Thanks James. I was just trying to have something fancy for my dinner guests. But, it seems like serving oysters on the half shell involves some skills I need to develop. Probably should practice before the dinner party.