The Mr. and I visited Seattle several times before deciding to move to the PNW. During our first trip, I was excited to try different raw bars since Seattle is known for its fresh seafood. Upon arriving in the city, our first course of action was to look up an oyster bar. While we found several potential raw bars on Yelp, we settled upon Taylor Shellfish Oyster Bar. It checked all the boxes: a variety of oysters and other seafood on the menu, reasonably priced, conveniently located.
Taylor Shellfish quickly became a favorite.
The shellfish company has three locations in Seattle: Capitol Hill, Pioneer Square (near downtown), and in my neighborhood, Queen Anne. Like most popular restaurants that don't take reservations (for parties under 7), each location is usually packed and the staff is always busy. Don't be offended if the first person who notices you at the door isn't the host/ess but rather someone shucking oysters behind the bar. When you do manage to grab a seat, make sure to ask what is good that day. You never know them they will have a special oyster or another unique treat (like the pink scallops shown below!). In my experience, everyone who I've encountered at Taylor Shellfish is really passionate about oysters and other shellfish. It might be because a lot of the oysters on the menu come directly from their oyster farms.
On that note, let's talk about oyster farming. When we think of fish, we never want to buy ‘farmed' fish but rather try to purchase fish caught in the wild. When it comes to oysters, however, the opposite is true. Here is the rundown: oysters act as filters and end up improving the quality of the water in which they are living. As the Monterey Bay Seafood Watch explains, oyster cultures (farms) that are suspended have the potential to be very sustainable because, as filter feeders, they don't end up impacting the wild fish around them (a problem that is common of salmon farming).
The other benefit to farmed oysters? You can eat them year-round. If you're a fan of oysters you've probably heard that you should only eat them in months that include the letter ‘R,' meaning that oysters are a no-no May – August (which happen to be the months I crave them the most). This rule of thumb is only applicable to wild oysters while farmed oysters are safe all year.
As the name implies, Taylor Shellfish is a raw bar, meaning that most of their menu is mostly oysters and other shellfish. Raw oysters aren't your thing? Don't worry. Their menu also has other delicious foods from the sea ranging from cooked oysters, steamed clams and mussels, geoduck sashimi, crab (market price, which means spendy), and a variety of salads. You can see their menu here.
Whenever I find myself at Taylor Shellfish, which is more often than I care to admit, I almost always get some combination of the following: Shucker's Dozen (12 oysters from their daily specials, usually two of six different kinds), a caesar salad (topped with anchovies), geoduck sashimi (sprinkled with tobiko and seaweed), and baguette from Macrina Bakery. I also really enjoy the smoked oyster dip (served with chips), oyster shooter, manila clams, and beet salad (seasonal).
While I typically like a crisp, still white wine with my seafood, I often find myself reaching for a glass of Brut or another sparkling wine.
Taylor Shellfish is one of my favorite restaurants in Seattle – easily top 3. Don't believe me? Well, maybe you'll believe Mario Batali. While all the locations are great, I would suggest visiting the Queen Anne oyster bar as they have outdoor seating and a view of the Space Needle.
5/5 stars. It really doesn't get better than this when it comes to oyster bars in Seattle. Delicious food, friendly and knowledgeable staff, and reasonably priced.
Keep in Mind
Website: Taylor Shellfish Oyster Bar
Bar: Full bar
Hours: 11:30am – 10pm
Happy Hour: M-F, 4pm – 6pm
Reservations: Parties 7 or more only
Outdoor Seating: Queen Anne Location
Pro Tip: The Pioneer Square location is a quick walk from the stadiums and the perfect place to grab happy hour before a game. The Queen Anne location has a cute patio that offers beautiful views of the Space Needle.
You've Got To Try: The Shucker's Dozen (great happy hour special); Geoduck Sashimi; Dungeness Crab. Want a variety? Try the Shellfish for Two, which includes oysters, geoduck, and a prawn cocktail.