Philadelphia has got some tremendously beautiful raw bars with well tailored wine lists and cocktails that pair exceptionally well with oysters. They’re hundreds of varieties of oysters and a lot of wine choices, a safe bet would be to choose a dry white wine with high acidity. For cocktail lovers, a traditional martini or gin & tonic are great options, and for the beer lovers don’t be afraid to go for an oyster stout.
Pro-tip: To start, try the oyster naked–meaning slurping it down first without adding any lemon or accoutrements to get a taste of all its flavorful nuances and textures, and then take a sip of your wine, beer or cocktail for an extra kick of umami on your taste buds. Mireille Guiliano, author of “Meet Paris Oyster: A Love Affair with the Perfect Food” recommends an interesting alternative, trying them with a bit of freshly ground black pepper, for her it helps intensify the flavor of the oyster.
Here are a few of the beautiful restaurants and cocktail bars where you can’t go wrong while going raw.
A newcomer to Philly, it’s got a nice prime location on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and is housed in the space formally occupied by the Four Seasons. This modern steakhouse is more on the casual side but the menu is a crowd pleaser for seafood lovers and carnivores alike. I recommend checking out the seafood tower for two or four. It’s truly impressive, delicious and satisfying as it comes loaded with east and west coast oysters, lobster, shrimp, mussels and salmon tartare.
This Philadelphia legend is popular for its buck-a-shuck happy hour deal, get there too late and you’ll find a packed house. This Center City joint is also a popular spot for a quick power lunch, try the fried oyster platter! The wine list is nicely curated to compliment their rotating selection of raw oysters, and their bar is super gin friendly as they have one of the largest selections of gin varieties in the city.
This swanky Italian-inspired restaurant is located in bustling Midtown Village. With a beautiful in-house raw bar serving a seriously delicious daily selection of oysters, they’ve got one of the best half a dozen oyster deals in the city outside of a happy hour. Not to mention a great wine list, which you can order from either by half or full glass so you get the opportunity to try a variety of wines that may catch your eye.
Located right across from beautiful Rittenhouse Square park, a.bar has a great happy hour going on from 4-6PM Monday through Saturday, with select oysters at $1.50 a piece; drinks are on special too with a rotating selection of seasonal punches and beers. If you’re a wine or cocktail lover you’ll definitely enjoy your experience here while slurping down a dozen or more bivalves.
The Olde Bar:
A contemporary oyster saloon housed in the space formerly occupied by the legendary Bookbinders seafood restaurant; in addition to offering a great selection of oysters this new Old City favorite is one of the best cocktail bars in Philly. They’ve got buck-a-shuck happy hour oyster deals Monday through Friday from 5-7PM and on weekends from 4-6PM.
Swabreen Bakr is the host of Pour it Up on mynewphilly.com, a bi-weekly video news segment which highlights the best that Philly has to offer in cocktails, craft beer and coffee. On social media, she can be found on Twitter and Instagram @ssscorvus.