Where to Find the Freshest Oysters in South Florida

A few weeks ago, at the start of September, I hit up a favorite little oyster bar back in D.C. only to be served a dozen that bathed in opaque milky liquor. Milky oysters aren't a sign that they're bad, but it is a sign they're spawning: a sure bet they'll be thin and flaccid, their flavor diminished. Since they were less-than-ideal, I sent them back.

Oyster season is one I adhere to religiously, despite that they're safe to eat year-round. The old rule dictated that the season resides in months that end in r. With the introduction of nonspawning oysters, that rule has gone by the wayside.
Yet according to Ryan and Travis Croxton, cousins behind Rappahannock River Oyster Co. in the Chesapeake Bay, sticking to the old rule of seasonality is as much about the transporting of oysters: moving crustaceans from warm waters to a cold fridge induces stress, which also affects flavor, making them less plump and sweet.

Which is one reason why Longboards in West Palm doesn't yet stock bivalves from the Gulf. "It's too warm to harvest them yet," said my bartender. "We don't trust them yet."

This past Sunday night, I waited at the bar at Longboards as I watched a shucker open Prince Edward Island sweet Malpeques, Massachusetts salty Wellfleets, and fruity Kumamotos from Northern California for my order. At $2.50 a piece -- 50 cents more than any place I'd get them back in D.C. -- I was hoping Longboards' stock would be delightful.

And it was. A mixed dozen from cold waters smelled of the sea and basked in clear liquor elixir and a hit of lemon.

As the temperature cools up north and the oyster season progresses, I'm looking forward to expanding my repertoire of bivalves and places to eat them. Any suggestions for places to try?

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519 Clematis St., West Palm Beach, FL

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Southport Raw Bar is great!


In Broward, try Southport Raw Bar in Lauderdale, Shuck 'N Dive in Lauderdale and Tark's of Dania Beach in Dania. However, for the really good oysters in Florida you gotta go up to the west half of the panhandle and get the ones that come fresh from Apalachicola Bay


Wait, really? You're talking to a Gulf oyster skeptic. That said, I'm a fan of eating local. I'm headed that way in a month or so; I'll have to try some. Thanks!


Gulf Oyster skeptic? Read "Sex, Death and Oysters" by Robb Walsh of The Houston Press (sister to new times)


I've read it. I've eaten Gulf oysters a bunch in Alabama and Mississippi. I think it's a north south regional thing. My go-to up north, Old Ebbitt, won't sell them except fried since they're also the ones that end up in cans and processed, etc (those and Virginicas). Lots of places in New York won't sell them either. It's a regionalism prejudice I should break for myself by embracing Rowan Jacobsen's philosophy (The Geography of Oysters author) that, like wine, there shouldn't be just one oyster. It's like only drinking pinot noir. 

John L.
John L.

Apalachicola produces the finest oysters on the planet, imo.

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