Welcome to Ask Eater, a monthly column where Eater Dallas editor Courtney E. Smith answers specific or baffling restaurant questions from readers. Have a question? Send them via the tipline, and Eater will feature the answer to one or more each month. No question is too difficult or silly to be considered. The names of the people who write in with questions will remain anonymous on the site.
Dear Eater Dallas,
My wife and I moved to DFW about 9 months ago and have been dying to find some (or at least one) great oyster restaurants. When I search online, I get nada. Please, tell me where to get oysters in Dallas.
Thank you, and I can’t wait for the answer!
Dear Oyster Adventurer,
It is the worst when the internet lets you down! So I, your new friend from the internet, am happy to help by providing my incredibly opinionated guide to eating this delicacy in DFW.
When it comes to oysters, you’ve got East Coast, West Coast, and Gulf Coast. Here in Texas, the Gulf Coast is closest and freshest — but they’re not the best. I strongly prefer the more delicate East Coast oysters from Canada and Massachusetts. During the hot summer months, those little mollusks have been resting in nice, cool waters that are less likely to breed bacteria. I also find them to be more flavorful and have a better texture, as well as more nuanced flavors that aren’t overwhelmingly fishy.
Rex’s Seafood on Northwest Highway is my go-to spot because what’s in stock and my preferred oysters is an overlapping Venn diagram. The team there orders heavily from Prince Edward Island (PEI) in Canada, which has ideal water temperatures for oysters to mature. It’s also heavy on Massachusetts species out of the state’s many bays and harbors. They get a few interesting species of oysters from Rhode Island, British Columbia, and New Brunswick that I enjoy exploring and that I find slightly different from my go-to workhorse varieties out of Prince Edward and Massachusetts.
If you’re new to East Coast oysters and want to give them a try, Rex’s offers a happy hour from 3 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday with $1 off each oyster in the half shell and $2 off glasses of wine, draft beers, and cocktails. I recommend wine or an ice-cold martini with your oyster platter.
Other good places include Montlake Cut, Lover’s Seafood, and TJ’s Seafood Market. Restaurant Beatrice also has a good seafood platter with raw oysters and more — despite being a Cajun place, the team prefers and serves East Coast oysters on the half shell. It’s a good option if you’re not ready to commit to an entire tray of raw oysters.
If you absolutely must eat Gulf oysters, S&D Oyster Company downtown is an old-school spot that strictly serves Gulf seafood. S&D serves them in the half shell, fried, and grilled. A fried Gulf oyster is so lovely, especially paired with a cocktail — I tend to go for bourbon or whiskey with that preparation.
Most of the really good seafood spots in Dallas stick to East Coast. West Coast oysters can be excellent, but they’re hard to find here. It’s still illegal to serve Pacific oysters from the West Coast on the half shell in Texas, primarily to protect the native species in the Gulf and stop the spread of an oyster disease called MSX. You’ll find the odd Oregon or Washington state oyster on the menu at places that dare to defy state law, and they’re worth trying as one element of your half dozen or dozen oyster tray.
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