When the temperatures start to creep up to the triple digits, one reliable respite from the heat is a platter of ice-cold oysters and your beverage of choice. And thanks to the revival of L.A.’s raw bar culture in the past few years, there has never been a better time to seek out a chilled dozen on the half shell.
So why does their cost vary so much? Well, compared to many menu items, oysters are relatively low-labor. This leaves much of their variability in pricing to the cost of product sourcing and availability. In other words, like many things in life, better oysters will usually cost you more money. However, this isn’t always a hard and fast rule.
We compiled oyster prices at popular raw bars around town to see how your dollar stacks up. You may be suprised.
- To generate the graph above, we surveyed restaurants on the average cost of one dozen oysters (if a “mixed variety” option was available we used that data) and calculated price per oyster. We also took into account happy hour prices, which are listed for those restaurants that offer them.
- To take the “quality” aspect into account, we divided the number of oysters species available by the price. The idea, hypothetically, is that the more types of oysters offered at an establishment, the higher interest they have in sourcing top-quality products. Thus, the best balance of value versus quality is far and away L & E Oyster Bar (11-12 varieties), which offers a daily mixed dozen for $28. Water Grill (11-12), Portsmouth (seven-eight varieties), and EMC Raw Bar (11-12 varieties) follow shortly after.
- In regards to happy hour value and range, EMC Raw Bar is the undisputed king, offering daily $1 oysters from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. and from 10 p.m. til close. If you want to save the most money off regular price though, try the daily deal at Kendall’s Brasserie or the Tuesday $1 oysters at MessHall.
- Cliff's Edge ($1 Oyster Thursdays 6 p.m. to 7 p.m., $32/doz afterward) and Delphine ($1-2 Oysters Every Monday 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.) offer once-weekly oyster happy hours, but don't offer oysters on their regular menu.
- We have, in fact, eaten the $1 oysters off the venerable Mariscos Jalisco truck in Boyle Heights and they are quite tasty.