*Editor’s Note: While bar seating is currently prohibited in the city of New Orleans, many restaurants have adapted to offer alternative seating. Enjoy oysters in New Orleans with a reservation, or consider picking up an order to-go.
Oysters in New Orleans are their own food group - usually served by the dozen piled high on crushed ice. Although they can be found in coastal cities around the country, oysters are a little bit different around here: large, plump and full of flavor. At restaurants around the city, Gulf oysters are served raw, fried, baked or chargrilled. Try a dozen and your oyster game will forever be changed.
You can enjoy oysters year-round, but they are the best in the months that have an “R”: January, February, March, April, September, October, November, and December. Some places have dedicated oyster bars, while others are standing-room-only for oyster-slurpin’. Some restaurants prepare them away in the kitchen, and others share the process with you. You’re never dining alone if you’re sitting in front of an oyster shucker--they make great conversation. See below for some tips on where to experience them.
Raw oysters are safe to eat and quite delicious. They are served often on beer trays, over a pile of ice or with rock salt. Accompany them with lemon, cocktail sauce, horseradish or a cracker! There are several noteworthy establishments for raw oysters in New Orleans. Watch the bartender shuck ‘em while you slurp ‘em.
Pascal Manale’s is a local’s choice for oysters and socializing. Cooter Brown's is the spot for raw oysters and sports, while Casamento's is an old school spot that has been serving the seafood delicacy since 1919 (Casamento’s remains cash only and is only open during oyster season). Bourbon House offers a great oyster bar that is more upscale. Here, you can pair your appetizer with caviar or champagne. Perhaps the most famous oyster bar in the city is Acme. Try one of their oyster shooters as well! Felix’s, close-by, is another great spot for raw oysters in New Orleans.
Restaurants frequently offer oyster specials and unique twists on traditional recipes. Be sure to try the chef’s creative specials. Some of the most renowned dishes can be found below.
Butter is the key ingredient for this oyster dish. Drago’s, located in the Hilton Riverside Hotel, created the dish, which has taken off around the city. Butter, cheese, garlic and herbs are combined to season the oysters, which are grilled on the half-shell. The sauce is great for dipping french bread as well.
Antoine’s stands as one of the oldest restaurants in the country and has remained true to its roots for centuries. In 1889, the restaurant created Oyster Rockefeller when there was a shortage of escargot. The recipe remains a family secret, but it involves breadcrumbs, a sauce of spinach and/or herbs, and is served warm from the oven.
This dish is decadent and one-of-a-kind. Arnaud’s gulf oysters are served with diced shrimp, green onions, mushrooms, herbs, and a white wine sauce. Again, they are baked and served warm. Pro tip: Arnaud’s offers a variety of special baked oysters. Order the “Oysters Arnaud” to try one of each.
Red Fish Grill on Bourbon Street serves fried oysters tossed with Crystal BBQ sauce and homemade blue cheese dressing.
A fried oyster po-boy is a staple in New Orleans cuisine. You can never go wrong with this traditional topping, but many po-boy shops only offer it on certain days. Some of our favorite places where you can always order one include Domilise’s and Mahony’s.
This Indian restaurant spices up their traditional dishes with New Orleans flare. The oyster bed roast at Saffron is prepared with caramelized onions, garlic, and curry.
Most legendary oyster bars mentioned above offer a happy hour. See some of our other top picks below. A perfect night out in New Orleans starts with some oysters, and they don’t have to break the bank!