Sunday, November 29, 2015

How incredible is the
humble oyster? It's delicious with a spritz of citrus, sure, but it's also
played a crucial role in stabilizing the northeastern shore of the United
States, protecting it from hurricanes, for many years.
And Americans love
their oysters: By the early twentieth century, New Yorkers had eaten every
last one from the harbor surrounding the isle of Manhattan.
These days, though, the city has an oyster Renaissance in its sights: Among
the restoration plans afoot is the Billion Oyster Project, which promises to
redistribute a full billion bivalves around New York City—helping improve
the city's harbor and its water quality—by 2030.
It's a development worth toasting over a dozen oysters.
And you don't have
to break a sweat (or the bank) to enjoy them at every price point in each
borough.
Here are eight of our favorites: Cosenza's Fish Market Locals
know that some of the best clams and oysters can be had right on the
street—between cannoli and pies—right on the sidewalk, standing up, on
Arthur Avenue in the Bronx.
The incredible Italian enclave is a stone's throw
from the Bronx botanic gardens, and at Cosenza's, a fish market, you can
exchange a few clams for shrimp cocktail, oysters, and, yes, clams, all
plucked and shucked to order and popped on a paper plate with a lemon slice
and little fanfare.
It's the spirit of the city on a plate.
Randazzo's Clam Bar If Cosenza's had a big brother in Brooklyn, his name
would be Randazzo.
The seafood here—as indicated by the giant neon lobster
on the sign out front—is fantastic. You're here for clams by the
dozen—littlenecks and Blue Points—calamari with the unctuous, inimitable
house red sauce, and a classic New England clam chowder.
But go nuts and order
a platter of oysters, too, because it's all uber-fresh and you can see
Sheepshead Bay out the window. Grand Central Oyster Bar There's a
reason this place makes a cameo on pretty much every old-school NYC list that
exists: It's awesome.
Dozens of oyster varieties line its epic menu.
Depending
on which bar you sit at, they're shucked right in front of you.
And the space
is gorgeous, with tiled ceilings and a throwback feel that will make you want
to bust out the rhinestones and bowties.
Maison Premiere Among the newfangled oyster bars, Maison Premiere is
probably the best, but its secret is very much out, so expect to wait for a
seat unless you visit during off-hours.
Both West and East coast bivalves dot
the menu of 25 daily options, and unlike at Grand Central, the cocktails here
are as famed as the oysters, and include quite a lineup of fancy absinthe
numbers.
(Look for the vintage absinthe drip.) Mar's Oyster Bar This is
not a cheap habit to indulge, but happily, the city has plenty of awesome
oyster happy hours, including in the outer boroughs.
If you're in Astoria,
maybe visiting the Museum of the Moving Image, go to Mar's around the
bend.
There, a solid menu includes bivalves that are $1.50 a pop six days a
week, and the cocktails are pretty darn good, too. Littleneck
Brooklyn's Gowanus Canal isn't as charming as the East River, Sheepshead Bay,
or the Hudson, but Littleneck—a sort of upscale clam shack in that neck of
the woods—sure is cute.
And the menu would satisfy any seafood obsessive,
featuring littleneck clams and steamers, mussels and clam chowder, lobster
rolls and Ipswich belly rolls.
Look for $1 oysters (shuckers' choice!) from
Monday to Friday between 5pm and 7pm, plus $5 pints of frosty beer.
Yum.
Upstate Craft Beer & Oyster Bar Although East Village old-timers may
bemoan the arrival of a craft beer and oyster joint in the heart of the
Village near Tompkins Square park, the truth is that this place has one of the
most affordable happy hours around—$12 for half a dozen oysters and a
freshly pulled pint.
We love that Mothers Milk Stout is often on tap (along
with seven other options), so you can try the classic stout-and-oysters
pairing.
Cull & Pistol Oyster Bar It's tough to imagine a more perfect New
York day than a ramble down the High Line—the city's knockout public park
that meanders through onetime subway tracks—and oysters.
Cull & Pistol
is right in Chelsea Market, adjacent to the excellent seafood shop The Lobster
Place, so bookend your ramble with an espresso at the Market's Ninth Street
Espresso and a glass of bubbly and a dozen oysters to cap it off.
What a town.
You don't have to break a sweat (or the bank) to enjoy
oysters in New York.
Read on for eight of our favorite oyster bars.

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