Raw delights are plentiful at Saltie Girl, which boasts outdoor dining in Copley Square. This Back Bay gem of a seafood restaurant creates a winning King Salmon Crudo with cucumbers, pistachio, and avocado oil; as well as an in-season display of Day Boat Scallop with jalapeño, lime, avocado, and caviar. Seafood towers come in Petite, Grande, or Royale sizes; the latter is an ambitious pile including 18 oysters, two types of clams, Jonah crab salad, lobster cocktail, sea urchin, a full 30 grams of Siberian caviar, and more.
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You can get fresh oysters pretty much anywhere in Boston, from pubs and wine bars to even certain neighborhood markets. But there’s a certain vibe to a classic raw bar—with pearly tiles and someone shucking seafood behind the counter—that really satisfies our craving for chilled seafood and equally cool drinks. With elegantly prepared crudo, ice cold shellfish towers, and more fresh seafood, here’s where to go to find the best raw bars in Boston.
Named for a signature variety grown at Island Creek Oyster Farm in Duxbury Bay, Row 34 has become a New England staple with locations in Boston Fort Point, Burlington, and Portsmouth, N.H., as well as one coming soon to Kendall Square in Cambridge. It’s famed for a decadent lobster roll, crispy fried clams, and more, but the scorecard-like raw bar menu is in a league of its own. Pick up a pencil to order those namesake oysters and other shellfish, colorfully composed crudo like Tuna Crudo with black garlic and creamy green avocado, and more.
North End favorite Neptune Oyster is a must-visit for seafood lovers looking to savor crudo, caviar, and an indulgent fresh seafood platters like the Triton Plateau of oysters, cherrystone clams, shrimp, Chatham blue mussels, lobster cocktail, and blue crab cocktail. Enticingly fresh oysters are also lovely to look at, lining the counter on one side of the narrow restaurant where admittedly, a wait for seats is typical. Pending the new patio licensing process in the North End, you’ll soon be able to sit outside—which, total bonus, is a prime place for people-watching.
Tucked into a Back Bay brownstone and decorated with art evoking The Life Aquatic, Select Oyster Bar has a chic but quirky, locals-approved vibe. Chef Michael Serpa’s local-restaurant debut emphasizes on raw seafood, with favorites like the Faroe Islands Salmon Crudo with togarashi and pistachio oil, and the refreshingly minimalist Dressed Maine Lobster accented with herbs, lemon, and top-grade olive oil. You can’t go wrong with a dozen Island Creek Oysters and pickled shallot vinaigrette—and of course, a regal bottle of wine selected by the chef himself.
South End seafood spot B&G Oysters boasts a raw bar that’s pretty to look at inside, and a hidden-away backyard patio outdoors. Go a la carte on oysters shrimp cocktail, and littlenecks. The main menu highlights other regional favorites, like a lobster roll and Fried Ipswich Clams, which South Boston-born chef Barbara Lynch used to have to drive to the North Shore to enjoy.
Ivory Pearl comes from the cocktail king behind nearby Blossom Bar, and this spot matches wine-inspired drinks with its gleefully over-the-top seafood menu. The effervescent vodka soda called Champagne Papi, a la carte shrimp cocktail and crab claws, and the $5-per-gram Giaveri Caviar Service will make you feel like a baller, but cheap oysters available at the bar every Wednesday through Sunday during Oyster Happy Hour will keep you rollin’ with deep pockets (yes, we’re making a Drake reference here).
This South End brasserie may offer $1 oysters daily until 5 p.m. (and all night on Mondays), but the raw bar selection at Black Lamb is strong enough to warrant a visit anytime. Aside from East Coast oysters, the neighborhood spot also features well-plated classics like littleneck clams, shrimp cocktail, Tuna Poke, and Jonah Crab Avocado Louis. If you’re having trouble deciding, get yourself a patio table and a drink, and order the shellfish platter to try a little bit of everything.
Boston-based celeb chef Tiffani Faison has three new concepts at downtown’s High Street Place, and one of them is a raw bar. There’s an herbaceous cold lobster roll and slightly smoky Pilgrim Chowdah, but Dive Bar doesn’t just do the regional standards. A rotating selection of oysters served with accouterements like Southern-style comeback sauce and lemon chimichurri vinaigrette reflect Faison’s global upbringing and creativity. The neon-lit, blue-green counter is a comfortable place to perch inside the bustling new food hall, and it serves bubbly wines and crushable beers by the glass.
Eric Twardzik contributed reporting.