New York City is a concrete jungle that also happens to be an island bordered by the Atlantic Ocean and the Hudson River.
As such, it’s both a major port city and a great city to enjoy fresh seafood.
The northeast has a long history of seafood culinary traditions, sourcing the freshest catches from the Atlantic’s bounty.
Now, with globalization and fast transport, seafood restaurants can also import seafood from coasts around the world.
New York City’s reputation as a restaurant paradise paired with its location along the Atlantic Coast makes it an ideal destination for oyster bars and seafood restaurants.
I spent my last trip to the Big Apple dining at my favorite seafood restaurants to compile the following list of where to get the best oysters in NYC.
75 9th Ave, New York, NY 10011
Cull & Pistol is a bustling oyster bar in a hip industrial-chic space in the Meatpacking District.
The dining space has a long, narrow bar lined with fresh shellfish and filets on ice sourced from their sister restaurant’s seafood market.
Cull & Pistol is family-owned, and an upstanding establishment committed to responsible and sustainable sourcing.
Their fresh seafood has earned them praise from the Michelin association.
They’re open for lunch, dinner, and a fantastic happy hour from 4-6 pm with half-off oysters.
I went for their happy hour and delighted in an order of Pistols on Horseback, featuring fried oysters wrapped in Jamon Iberico and served with pickled red onion and smoked aioli.
Park, Pier 25 Hudson River, New York, NY 10013
Grand Banks is famous for both its seafood and its picturesque and romantic atmosphere aboard an old wooden sailboat docked at Pier 25 Marina.
Receiving press and awards from New York Magazine, Conde Nast Traveler, Bon Apetit, and The Observer, Grand Banks is undoubtedly the best outdoor dining experience in the city with the clearest views of the iconic New York skyline.
Chef Kerry Heffernan mans the ship’s kitchen, serving a high-end menu of artisanal cocktails with nautical themes and a simple yet high-quality menu of responsibly sourced seafood.
The menu offers 6 varieties of oysters from the east and west coasts.
I recommend trying the Montauk Pearl oysters, sourced from New York shores.
89 E 42nd St, New York, NY 10017
Originating as a premier fine dining restaurant inside the newly built Grand Central Station in 1913, the Grand Central Oyster Bar is over a century old and is now a venerable New York institution.
It’s still located on the lower level of Grand Central terminal, in an enormous arched-ceiling dining space with tile floors and red and white checkered tablecloths.
Grand Central Oyster Bar is not only historic, but it’s also a James Beard Award-winning seafood restaurant that serves 25 varieties of fish and shellfish daily.
They have a lunch menu consisting of fresh fish sandwiches, a cocktail menu, and a dinner menu.
They source their oysters from the Chesapeake Bay or Copps Island, so you can expect the freshest oysters from the northeast coast.
I couldn’t get enough of their signature fried Bluepoint oysters and fries.
172 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10014
Jeffrey’s Grocery is a cozy and quaint seafood eatery in the West Village with fun nautical décor and a traditional American seafood menu.
Owners Gina and Gabriel Stulman and Chef Matt Griffin use classic American seafood traditions from New York to inform their various menus.
They have an impressive wine list and cocktail menu to accompany lunch, brunch, or dinner.
I was most impressed with their various seafood towers, plated around multi-tiered circular metal ice bins.
I recommend going with a crowd, so you can order the Le Royal seafood tower, with oysters, littleneck clams, smoked mussels, lobster salad, crab legs, and shrimp.
80 Spring St, New York, NY 10012
Balthazar is a Michelin-recommended French brasserie that has been a SoHo favorite since 1997.
Owner and famed restauranteur Keith McNally worked his way up the service industry food chain, starting as a busboy in 1975 to opening his first restaurant five years later.
Balthazar is one of eleven restaurants in McNally’s successful restaurant dynasty.
The atmosphere at Balthazar is reminiscent of a Parisian cocktail lounge and café, with a bustling and warm atmosphere.
The menu has a raw bar selection with nine west coast oyster varieties and ten east coast oyster varieties.
I got an oyster sampler so I could try a few varieties.
154 W 13th St, New York, NY 10011
As the name suggests, Flex Mussels is first and foremost a mussel bar, specializing in Prince Edward Island (PEI) mussels.
Owned and operated by the Shapiro family, Flex Mussels originated as a seafood shack on Prince Edward Island before opening a casual urban eatery in the West Village.
They’ve also expanded their menu to include a robust mollusk selection.
Flex Mussels has a globally inspired menu, using different cooking methods from every continent to deliver a diverse range of mussels and oyster dishes.
Their oyster varieties vary according to seasonal availability, but they always have their exclusive PEI oysters.
I thought they were super meaty with a fresh saltiness and a citrus finish.
336 State St, Brooklyn, NY 11217
Located in a cute, humble space in Boerum Hill, Grand Army is a cocktail lounge and oyster bar, featuring only locally sourced mussels.
Grand Army has received praise and press from Eater, Time Out, Thrillist, Imbibe, Food and Wine, and many more for its excellent cocktail and raw oyster selection.
They have four varieties of oysters, all sourced from New York bays.
Their menu has a small, but perfectly executed selection of interesting bar snacks, appetizers, raw bar specialties, and seafood entrees.
I had a dozen raw oysters with their trout-roe-deviled eggs as a light evening meal with an incredible cocktail called Viva Forever.
114 Nassau Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11222
Owned by fifth-generation fishmongers, Greenpoint Fish & Lobster Co. is a fresh fish counter and friendly neighborhood restaurant in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.
Each member of the Greenpoint Fish and Lobster Co. team is both an expert on seafood quality and on utilizing every part of the fish when cooking.
The fish counter and market are indoors, while the dining space occupies a casual outdoor patio.
Their American seafood dishes have garnered praise from the New Yorker, the New York Times, Michelin Guide, and Eater.
I had a half-dozen East coast oysters while I waited for a fried, flaky white fish sandwich.
288 3rd Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11215
Littleneck is a quaint, old-school Brooklyn seafood eatery, located in a vintage-chic space in Gowanus.
They serve their delicious cocktails in mason jars, and their dining space has mismatched tables with interesting vintage light fixtures and memorabilia.
Their food offers a refined take on classic American favorites, with stunning presentation.
They have a full cocktail, wine, and beer menu along with a raw bar, dinner, and brunch menu.
Their oyster selection changes daily, according to each day’s catch, and is offered only on the raw bar menu.
In honor of their namesake mollusk, I had to sample some littleneck clams, which tasted delicious atop a thick slice of sourdough bread smothered in spicy tomato broth and garlic aioli.
298 Bedford Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11249
Maison Premiere is a James Beard Award-winning absinthe and oyster bar in the heart of Williamsburg.
Its old-fashioned, glamourous décor and design take inspiration from New York, New Orleans, and Parisian hotel bars from the 20s.
They have the largest absinthe selection in the nation and also offer over 30 varieties of oysters.
Their creative menu puts fun twists on cocktail classics, using names that rhyme with their doppelganger.
The experience at Maison Premiere is premised around pairing absinthe with oysters for the ultimate psychedelic aphrodisiac.
I’ve never seen a more impressive cocktail menu.
I had the Maison Absinthe Colada with rum, crème de menthe, pineapple, coconut, and absinthe.
3452 Broadway, New York, NY 10031
Teetering between Harlem and Sugar Hill, ROKC is a hip, modern Japanese ramen house and cocktail bar with an East-meets-West culinary and atmosphere concept.
They model the menus off turn-of-the-century Japanese port restaurants that mixed newly arrived western ingredients with Japanese cooking methods.
Thrillist named them the best cocktail bar in America.
They specialize in ramen and cocktails, but have a robust raw bar menu, featuring East Coast oysters.
The oysters were fabulous, but you can’t leave without sampling one of their Ramen dishes.
I recommend the soupless Yokosuka Curry with shrimp paste, coconut milk, green curry, shrimp, cauliflower, fried shallot, peppers, and cilantro.
420 Hudson St, New York, NY 10014
The Clam is a refined New American seafood restaurant and cocktail bar in a country-chic space in the West Village.
Owner and head chef Mike Price creates seasonal menus that showcase local seafood with simple yet sophisticated dishes that combine tradition and innovation.
The service is impeccable and on par with the elegant multi-course menu.
Their east coast oysters were fresh and meaty.
I thought they paired well with the tangy and spicy chili-lime mignonette sauce that came with them.
They also had one of the best bowls of New England Clam Chowder I’ve tasted, with a bonus of shrimp, local fish, and Yukon gold potatoes.
570 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10024
The Mermaid Inn is a high-end contemporary American seafood restaurant with a creative and playful menu and atmosphere.
Located on the Upper West Side, a few blocks from Central Park,
The Mermaid Inn is a favorite neighborhood haunt for happy hours and fun birthday dinners.
They have great happy hours daily from 4:30 to 6:30 with discounts on selected raw bar items, seafood snacks, and classic cocktails.
I was so impressed with their happy hour cocktails that I stayed for dinner, enjoying a wider selection of oysters from both coasts.
Their mermaid fish tacos were my favorite main dish.
190 Avenue B, New York, NY 10009
Located in the East Village, a block from Tompkins Square Park, Ama Raw Bar is a fashionable and modern cocktail bar and Asian fusion seafood restaurant.
The interior is a stylish industrial-chic and mid-century modern lounge with a festive Tiki-hut-inspired outdoor patio.
They’re known for their fun happy hours and innovative Pan Asian fusion menu.
Happy hour features one-dollar raw oysters with amazing dipping sauces and tropical cocktails like lychee martinis.
My favorite oyster dish was their fried oyster bao with yuzu kosho aioli, sesame, and house slaw.
I liked that you can order as many or few oysters as you like.
18 Cornelia St, New York, NY 10014
Named for owner and head Chef Rebecca Charles’ grandmother, Pearle is an ode to classic New England-style seafood.
Located in a fashionable New England rustic-chic space in the West Village, Pearle Oyster Bar has received glowing reviews from the Boston Globe and the New York Times.
New England-style recipes mean plenty of fried clams and oysters, and Pearle’s has both in various forms.
I loved the fried oyster roll with tartar sauce and shoestring fries from their lunch menu.
You can also get raw oysters and fried oysters for appetizers on the dinner menu.
New York has thousands of restaurants and hundreds of seafood restaurants that showcase its east coast bounty.
If you’re looking for the best oysters in New York, you can find them from the east and west coast at one of the brasseries, seafood markets, and oyster bars on my list.
If you’re looking to really spend some money, check out our list of the most expensive restaurants NYC has to offer!
Did we leave a restaurant out of this list? Make sure you leave us a comment and we’ll check it out!