The Pacific Northwest is renowned for its oysters, but the recipe for a good oyster bar requires much more than just a fresh, meaty, brackish bivalve, and includes atmosphere, attentive service and additional menu items to complete the dining experience. Here are some top Vancouver spots for shucking and sucking.
Rodney’s Oyster House
A casual but corporate Yaletown oyster spot, Rodney’s Oyster House is always abuzz. The servers are mostly male, and prawn-garnished Caesars the drink of choice. Of course, the vast selection of oysters changes daily. Fresh bread fills the gap and is a useful tool to absorb the alcohol you may just feel motivated to consume when this place is inevitably rocking. 1228 Hamilton St., 604-609-0080.
This tiny spot, housed in the original Vancouver Stock Exchange Building, is Vancouver’s newest addition to the oyster scene. The Oyster’s “buck a shuck” runs from 3 – 7 p.m. each day, but one must arrive early to have any chance of getting a seat. There’s a menu well-beyond the raw scallops and oysters stacked behind the bar, including steamer bowls, lobster rolls and squid po’ boys (perfect for a quick lunch). Completing the experience is the almost impeccable wine selection, as well as pre-made cocktails crafted by Brad Stanton, one of Vancouver’s top bartenders. 475 Howe St., 604–899–0323.
A cozy Franco-German gem run by two brothers, La Brasserie has more going for it than just its leather banquettes and its signature dish, the Suckling Pig. They’ve got ocean-fresh buck-a-shuck oysters nightly from 9 – 12 p.m., for those who enjoy late-night dining. Diners can choose from over 30 craft European beers, and a strong selection of oyster-friendly wines. 1091 Davie St., 604-568-6499.
Joe Fortes Seafood & Chop House
This downtown icon has been shucking for over 25 years; imagine the accumulated shells. Sit at Joe Fortes’ oyster bar and watch champion speed-shucker “Oyster Bob” Skinner work his magic and turn out more molluscks in one night than you’ll shuck in a lifetime. Frequently cited Vancouver’s Best Oyster Bar, this is definitely the place to go if you want to people-watch. In the summer, hit the patio on Friday for the after work crowd. 777 Thurlow St., 604-669-1940.
While Vancouver is thick with stellar restaurants, Blue Water always comes up in any worthy food writer’s top-five list, regardless of whether oysters are a criterion. Here, Chef Frank Pabst focuses on sustainable seafood — which, of course includes oysters. Sit at the Raw Bar and watch the knives fly as the sushi chefs whip up sashimi. There’s always a terrific selection of oysters, along with various tasty dipping sauces, as well as impressive wine and cocktail menus. 1095 Hamilton St., 604-688-8078.
Image courtesy of Swamibu.