Best Oyster Bars NYC, Charleston, L.A.

From Charleston to L.A., chefs are shelling out delicious new oyster toppings

Move over, cocktail sauce. To the left, traditional mignonette. Though chefs have long been taking creative license with the classic oyster condiments, this summer it feels like oysters have gotten a whole new wardrobe. From Charleston to L.A., chefs are dressing up our favorite bivalve with all kinds of out-there toppings, and that's not all: They've also been serving oysters pickled, smoked and in BLTs.

A simple, raw oyster served with nothing but a squeeze of lemon may be the most perfect food, but that doesn't mean we're opposed to more elaborate oyster bar creations. The recent uptick in creative presentations has us thoroughly convinced: There's always room for an oyster upgrade.

Here are eight unexpected oyster creations from some of our favorite oyster bars across the country.

① Lemongrass Cocktail Sauce

Photo: Lori Solomon

At The Ordinary in Charleston, chef and owner Mike Lata makes a cocktail sauce that's made with the restaurant's homemade ketchup, which is already spiked with lemongrass and other spices. It's served with the restaurant's raw oysters and shellfish platters. (Also pictured, a seasonal cantaloupe mignonette.)

② Banh Mi Meets Hawaiian Roll

Photo: Lori Solomon

That's not the only way Lata is getting creative with the beloved bivalves at The Ordinary. He also serves crispy oyster sliders: "I wanted to create a crave-worthy bite that hit all the right spots. This idea is straight down the middle: hot, griddled, in-house baked Hawaiian rolls, fried oyster, banh mi-type slaw and a mayonnaise made from the pepper mash from our hot sauce. It's hard to beat it." Sounds delicious AF.

Baked and Truffled Oysters

At Grand Army, Brooklyn's bougie hot spot, chef Bradley Schaffer makes a baked and truffled oyster. Need we say more?

Jalapeño-Cucumber Mignonette

Why take the traditional route when you can spice up your oysters with jalapeño-cucumber mignonette, like the one they serve at one-year-old Greek spot Doretta Taverna in Boston?

⑤ Deviled Oysters

Photo: Connie & Ted's

These puppies aren't new, but they're still luring diners to Connie and Ted's in L.A. after three years.

⑥ Fried Oysters with Dulse

At Marco Canora's recently opened Zadie's Oyster Room in Manhattan, oysters are served seven ways, each with their own topping. We're crazy for the fried oysters with dulse (seaweed), fennel, garlic and lemon.

⑦ Broiled Oysters with Sea Lettuce and Parm

Another favorite from Canora's new raw bar? The broiled oysters with sea lettuce, spring onion and Parm. We're not afraid to mix cheese and oysters, nor should you be.

⑧ Crispy Oyster BLT

Photo: Deborah Smail

While you're packing as many oysters and BLTs as possible into your last days of summer, here's a winning idea: Combine the two like they do at Brennan's in Houston by topping Gulf Coast oysters with applewood bacon mousse and Creole mustard glaze. The end.