The World Is Your Oyster: Check Out the 16 Best Raw Bars in Boston
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Classy, cool, and oh-so-New England, raw bars exist to show off whatever’s best and fresh from the ocean each day—and for that reason, they might just be Boston’s quintessential kind of restaurant. What’s more, three new pearls are currently forming, and soon to join the local dining landscape: Ivory Pearl, bringing seafood and bubbles to Brookline in August; Pearl & Lime, a forthcoming Quincy taqueria that is currently serving summertime snacks at the Adams Village Gazebo; and the Pearl at South Bay, an independent oyster house headed for Dorchester.
Of course, thanks to Boston’s year-round access to the freshest oysters, clams, lobsters, and more, raw bar selections already exist on menus across the city—but here are 16 spots that specialize in all things on-the-half-shell. Whether you’re looking for oysters to slurp (or take to shuck at home), an al fresco selection of coastal crudos, or a good old-fashioned shrimp cocktail, here are the best raw bars in Boston right now.
This Italian-accented seafood spot from North End mogul Frank DePasquale brings a taste of the Mediterranean to the Freedom Trail. Take a seat outside this summer to enjoy New England oysters with blood orange mignonette, and sample other raw-bar delicacies like king crab legs or a light but decadent tuna crudo with truffle mascarpone, potato sticks, and shaved black truffle. Aqua Pazza requires reservations for socially distanced dining Tuesday through Sunday from 4-11 p.m.
135 Richmond St., North End, Boston, 857-350-3105, aquapazza-boston.com.
In a sea of contemporary seafood restaurants, this classic spot, captained by Boston dining doyenne Barbara Lynch, charts a more familiar course—from the silver seafood towers on each white-marbled table to the pearly lights of the backyard patio. The B&G crew finesses the classics, including a chilled Maine lobster roll and perfectly shucked East Coast oysters, yet also keeps things fresh with raw-bar specials like blue cod ceviche with leche de tigre. B&G is open daily from noon-9 p.m. (10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays) for takeout and socially distanced dining.
550 Tremont St., South End, Boston, 617-423-0550, bandgoysters.com.
The newest South End spot from neighborhood titan chef Colin Lynch and his talented team, Black Lamb is also the homiest. As with Lynch’s flashier spots—the coastal Italian restaurant Bar Mezzana, island-vacation-evoking Shore Leave, and serene sushi bar No Relation—seafood is a through line on the Black Lamb menu. Here you’ll find snacks like clam dip and Old Bay pita chips; salad Niçoise with seared yellowfin tuna; and daily $1 oysters (Monday-Friday 11 a.m.-5 p.m.) shucked at the brasserie-style raw bar. It’s open Wednesday through Sunday for socially distanced dining beginning at 11 a.m.
571 Tremont St., Boston, 617-982-6330, blacklambsouthend.com.
If you plan to do some socially distanced sunbathing at Revere Beach this summer, drift by this sleek newcomer overlooking the sand. The menu is Italian-inspired and the vibe veers toward Miami Chic, but the chowder is a familiar dose of local flavor buoyed by bacon and brioche croutons. Follow it up with raw bar selections such as scallop ceviche or freshly shucked oysters with pink peppercorn mignonette. Dryft boasts an expansive waterfront patio, and is open daily for dining from 11 a.m.-11 p.m.
500 Ocean Ave., Revere, 781-629-1842, dryftrevere.com.
East Boston Oysters
Though this pop-up outfit proudly doesn’t have a brick-and-mortar bar to call home, its talented team of professional shuckers will make an oyster-fueled party happen anywhere. In fact, during the pandemic era, founder Alexis Cervasio is doing straight-up home deliveries. Sign up for the EBO email list to learn about special add-ons, but each week you can expect options like “caviar snack packs;” plus dozens of East Coast oysters, an EBO-branded shucking knife, and access to the very on-brand “How the F*ck to Shuck” YouTube video, so you can get your slurp on wherever you want.
This Fenway-side cafeteria is a low-key, high-value option in the neighborhood, with a menu full of James Beard award-worthy seafood shack upgrades in a casual, counter-service space. Famous brown-butter lobster rolls, fried fish sandwiches, and even masterful crudos are tailor-made for takeout—though you’ll currently have to shuck your own oysters. Or, call ahead and inquire about outdoor seating to have your plump Damariscotta oysters prepared on-site. Eventide is open Thursday through Sunday for takeout, delivery, and limited outdoor dining.
1321 Boylston St., Boston, 617-545-1060, eventidefenway.com.
Il Patio di Eataly
After a few years of hosting monthly, pop-up “block parties,” this Boylston Street piazza has become a seasonal summertime fixture for outdoor, oyster-filled aperitivo hour. The 130-seat, socially distanced Il Patio di Eataly is open daily at 11 a.m., with weekly specials like Limoncello Tuesdays and Wine Flight Wednesdays, while a half-dozen Island Creek oysters and a half-bottle of Ferrari Brut sparkling wine is $40 every day.
800 Boylston St., Back Bay, Boston, eataly.com.
Legal Sea Foods
It’s a beloved regional chain for reasons: The Legal team knows its way around an oyster—and lobsters, shrimp, cherrystones, haddock, salmon, and everything else under the sea. A couple local locations boast not only the fresh raw bar that seafood lovers expect and deserve, but also atmospheric outdoor dining, too. See: the three-level, waterfront Legal Harborside in the Seaport, as well as Legal Sea Foods Chestnut Hill, overlooking Hammond Pond, which are both ready to serve you right now.
270 Northern Ave., Seaport, Boston, 617-477-2900; 55 Boylston St., Chestnut Hill, 617-277-7300; and other locations, legalseafoods.com.
One silver lining for diners during an otherwise unprecedented summer? The famously long wait for a seat at this Boston bivalve bastion is way shorter than usual. Owner Jeff Nace’s beloved North End bistro is open for takeout, as well as socially distanced dining, including on a new, octopus-painted patio. Alongside Neptune favorites like bluefish johnnycakes and lobster rolls, there’s a daily selection of East and West Coast oysters, plus raw bar specialities like Atlantic crab claws and Santa Barbara uni.
63 Salem St., Boston, 617-742-3474, neptuneoyster.com.
This industrial-cool spot from the Island Creek Oyster Bar team is as much a serious beer bar as it is a seafood mecca. That’s how we can tell you, with the utmost confidence, that the effervescent Saison du Row—a Belgian-style saison that Row beer director Suzanne Hays made in collaboration with neighbor Trillium Brewing Company—pairs perfectly with the namesake Row 34 oysters. The Fort Point favorite is open Wednesday through Sunday for takeout and socially distanced dining.
383 Congress St., Boston, 617-553-5900, row34.com.
The galley-like interior of this Back Bay modern-seafood restaurant is fairly intimate, so we were pumped that Saltie Girl recently took over the entire patio setup of neighboring sister restaurant, Met Back Bay. That means we have more space to take on seafood towers teeming with littlenecks, oysters, and lobster cocktail; day boat scallop and king salmon crudos; and more fresh catch prepared by chef Kyle McClelland.
281 Dartmouth St., Boston, 617-267-0691, saltiegirl.com.
Select Oyster Bar
Rising-star chef Michael Serpa—who just announced plans for a fourth Boston project—set sail as a restaurateur at this debut spot, a polished but unpretentious oyster bar tucked inside a Back Bay brownstone. The raw bar section of Select’s menu features shellfish tiers loaded with local oysters, Champagne-poached shrimp, delicately dressed fresh Maine lobster, Mediterranean-glancing crudo, and more. Select is open daily at noon for takeout and socially distanced dining.
50 Gloucester St., Boston, 857-239-8064, selectboston.com.
The Raw Bar at Island Creek Oyster Farm
From a permanently parked food truck, this outdoor, waterfront bar serves up the oysters that are grown just yards away on the South Shore farm—as well as caviar, boards of imported tinned seafood, ceviches, and more to pair with local beers and small-producer wines. There’s a fire pit for ambiance, plus kid-friendly fare that makes it a day-trip destination fit for the whole family. The Raw Bar at Island Creek is open from noon until twilight every day, rain or shine.
401 Washington St., Duxbury, 781-934-2028, islandcreekoysters.com.
Tuscan Kitchen (Seaport)
The local mini-chain Tuscan Brands just debuted Sea Grille & Bar, its first seafood-specific restaurant on the Newburyport waterfront. Back in the city, meanwhile, the Seaport location of Tuscan Kitchen also has a scenic new setting this summer: its expansive, outdoor “Il Giardino” setup on the corner of Seaport and Fan Pier boulevards. Head there to sup on simply prepared raw bar fare, like chilled Seabrook lobster tails, basil oil-flecked tuna tartare, and dozens of clams and oysters on-the-half-shell. The full Tuscan Kitchen menu is available for outdoor dining, as well as inside the second-floor dining room, while a selection of items is also available for takeout.
64 Seaport Blvd., Boston, 617-303-7300, tuscanbrands.com.
Union Oyster House
The semi-circular oyster bar here has been in continuous operation since the 1800s, when statesman Daniel Webster was among the regulars tossing back bivalves and beers. These days, America’s oldest restaurant is as much a historic institution as it is a reliable lunch spot—and longtime owner Joe Milano reports that his daily oyster selection is still the most popular to-go item. Order your Cotuits or Wellfleets already shucked and on ice, or take out shelled oysters to shuck at home. The massive restaurant has rearranged its historic space for on-site dining, as well, while a pop-up patio on quaint Union Street is also open daily for lunch and dinner.
41 Union St., Boston, 617-227-2750, unionoysterhouse.com.
Typically praised for his sushi stylings, James Beard Best Chef: Northeast winner Tony Messina is mixing things up this summer: He’s added a walkup window dishing out clam shack and raw bar-style menus. (That said, there’s also creative sushi omakase to go.) A lineup of Island Creek oysters with daily accompaniments, plus aguachiles, ceviches, and shrimp cocktail joins plump fried clams, lobster rolls, and more. The Uni raw bar is open Tuesday through Sunday from noon-9 p.m. for takeout and patio dining along Massachusetts Ave.
370A Commonwealth Ave., Back Bay, 617-536-7200, uni-boston.com.