Tower Records

Our favorite raw bars in L.A.

There's no better way to stay cool than with a big platter of seafood on ice—preferably a stacked plateau. These are our favorite places in town to do just that.

① The Hungry Cat in Hollywood and Santa Monica
Diners turn up at both locations for the assorted fruits de mer: Maine lobster, snow crab legs, sea urchin in the shell and messy (but so worth it) peel 'n eat shrimp. If oysters are calling, grab a seat at the raw bar for front and center views. Order a plate ($18 for a half dozen, $36 for a dozen) or, better yet, come on Mondays for half-priced oysters. Another option: Head to the Hollywood location for boozy shooters ($9) layered with sake, lemon, sriracha and furikake. If caviar is more your thing, lap it up with golden trout ($40 for an ounce, $20 for a half ounce), hackleback ($54 for an ounce, $27 for a half ounce), white sturgeon ($110 for an ounce, $55 for a half ounce). If you're feeling extra fancy, head to Santa Monica for Siberian osetra ($120 for an ounce, $60 for a half ounce).

② Blue Plate Oysterette in Mid-City and Santa Monica
Where better to take in the salt air and SoCal sun with a platter of oysters than the outdoor picnic tables at the Santa Monica location? There are always at least a half dozen West and East coast selections ($3 each)—from Fanny Bay to Chincoteague. Go big with a seafood tower ($85) of lobster, oysters, clams, mussels, prawns and king crab. The newly opened 3rd Street location offers the same menu options for landlubbers.

③ Fishing with Dynamite in Manhattan Beach
Chef David LeFevre's menu is an ode to the sea: Atlantic and Pacific oysters, littlenecks, PEI mussels, Peruvian scallops, King crab legs. If you're all in, a fat Mothershucker ($160) platter serves them all prettied up on ice and garnished with strands of seaweed. Forgo the usual mignonette and cocktail adornment for ponzu, yuzu koshu mayo or saffron aioli.

④ L&E Oyster Bar in Silver Lake
The expanded Upstairs is dedicated to the namesake bivalve. Elevated pub grub is on offer up there, along with at least ten different types of oysters. Watch from the bar as mollusks originating from lands distant as New Zealand and Baja to PEI and the Chesapeake are expertly shucked and served by the dozen ($28) or a la carte ($2 to $4 each). And don't overlook the lengthy beer and wine list: These are the same owners behind Bar Covell, so expect small-production pours by the bottle, glass and tap.

⑤ Connie & Ted's in West Hollywood
The restaurant may not be tiny or homespun, but the menu takes a cue from chef Michael Cimarusti's New England maritime roots. Seafood-on-ice options include littlenecks and meatier topnecks, lobsters and a long list of oysters (and walls papered with thousands of oyster receipts to prove it). But follow the chef's choice, an omakase of a dozen ($34) or half-dozen ($17) of oysters served with tarragon-inflected mignonette and horseradish.

⑥ Santa Monica Seafood in Santa Monica
Prime crustaceans and mollusks are your—insert pun—oyster at this family-run market/restaurant/institution. The raw bar is nothing short of spectacular: Dive into Dungeness crab ($27) cooked, chilled, cracked and served whole, or Kumamotos and Kusshis ($30 for a dozen, $16 for a half dozen) dressed with classic lemon wedges, horseradish and shallot mignonette. There's nothing fancy here but with a fish market as the dining room, take-away is a snap.

⑦ Water Grill in Downtown and Santa Monica
The city's gold standard for pescavores has churned out fish mavens Michael Cimarusti and David LeFevre, who've both been at the helm. It's the kind of place where wedge salad, shrimp cocktail and classic martinis still have a place alongside a seafood tower, all sourced from its own King's Seafood Company. Get schooled in the seduction of the oyster with a sampler ($29.45 for a dozen, $15.75 for a half dozen) and the pièce de résistance: The King shellfish platter ($150), baited with oysters, scallops, clams, periwinkles, shrimp, mussels, lobster, crab and urchin.