When it comes to the food scene in Louisville, there is a lot to be thankful for, not the least of which is the UPS Worldport air hub. While this sprawling airport may not seem to play a vital part in our city’s gastronomy, in fact it acts as our fishing net to the Gulf, the Atlantic and the Pacific, enabling our state to haul in seafood plucked from the ocean as little as 24 hours prior to arriving on our plates.
This ability to access the freshest catch has led to a growing raw bar trend in Louisville, one we are happy to embrace, particularly those of us who have a penchant for oysters on the half shell. We’ve rounded up the 11 best spots in town to indulge in this supposed aphrodisiac, and whether you select a half dozen or a full order, we highly recommend a glass of bubbly to round out this indulgent feast!
11 Places to Eat Raw Oysters in Louisville
2011 Grinstead Drive • (502) 882-2507
Hours: Tuesday through Saturday, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.; brunch served Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.
We touted this new Highlands establishment in our list of 10 New Restaurants in Louisville You Have to Try, and the inclusion of freshly shucked oysters on their menu did not escape us. It has us dying to go back, in fact, ready to order a dozen of assorted halfshells with their housemade accompaniments served alongside, taking the entire raw oyster experience up a notch. Given the modern Southern dishes coming out of Fontleroy’s kitchen, oysters are a natural fit. The only thing missing at the moment are warmer temps so we can enjoy our oyster bar order on Fontleroy’s patio!
505 S. Fourth St. • (502) 909-3323
Hours: Monday through Thursday, 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 4 p.m. to 12 a.m.; Closed Sundays
Located in the newly opened Embassy Suites on Fourth Street, Brendon’s Catch 23 will defy any preconceived notions of what it means to be a restaurant in a chain hotel. As with the Embassy Suites, distinctive architectural elements of the historic building the hotel and restaurant occupy have been preserved and offer an opulent setting for dinner, with oysters fitting in perfectly with the surroundings. Fresh Blue Points from Connecticut and Chesapeake oysters are on offer raw, grilled or “Kentuckyfeller”-style (Kentucky ham added to the Parmesan and spinach, giving it a local touch), providing a fun twist to the typical raw bar experience. Feel like blowing the bank? Splurge on Brendon’s Seafood Tower, an embarrassment of shellfish riches featuring shrimp, king crab legs, lobster and, of course, oysters.
East End Location:
101 Whittington Pkwy. • (502) 429-8000
Hours: Monday through Thursday, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.; Sunday, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Lunch served Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
115 S. Fourth St. • (502) 855-8000
Hours: Monday through Saturday, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Lunch served Monday through Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Closed Sundays
Z’s has been a Louisville staple for fresh oysters for years, the popularity of their east end outpost leading to a downtown outfit, located within a stone’s throw of the KFC Yum! Center and the central business district. Z’s oyster offerings are varied and ever-changing. Their website notes not to bother calling ahead for a listing of the day’s oyster haul … it won’t be finalized until the last minute, when the freshest catch is procured, shucked and delivered to hungry diners. Only one thing is for sure, freshness comes first and you won’t be disappointed!
700 E. Market St. • (502) 749-7100
Hours: Monday through Thursday, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Brunch menu served Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
There are few things we enjoy more than posting up on the astroturf-covered benches at Garage Bar on a warm summer day. Add a dozen raw oysters to the mix, a lively game of ping pong, a glass of prosecco and a ham plate, for good measure, and you’ve carved out a near-perfect way to while away an afternoon in Louisville.
127 W. Main St. • (502) 587-1626
Hours: Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Saturday, 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.; Sunday, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Doc Crow’s aims to offer a comprehensive oyster experience, exploring the more than 150 varieties available in the United States. One of the first places to set up shop on Whiskey Row, the oysters are on display right as you walk in the front door, shuckers hard at work popping open the shells as orders pour in. Given the array of oysters on offer, we highly recommend ordering a dozen mixed, allowing the individual flavors and textures of the various varieties to shine through.
446 S. Fourth St. • (502) 568-9009
Hours: Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 12 a.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 3 a.m.
Bourbon Raw is the newest addition to the restaurant lineup at 4th Street Live, taking over the space formerly occupied by Maker’s Mark Bourbon Lounge. While bourbon still reigns supreme at this new establishment, oysters on the half shell have been added to the mix, ensuring 4th Street Live revelers and the downtown 9-to-5 set alike don’t have to go far to get their raw bar fix!
325 W. Main St. • (502) 584-0102
Hours: Monday through Thursday, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.
The raw bar at Jeff Ruby’s is over the top, to put it lightly, with a vast selection of jumbo tiger shrimp, Alaskan king crab, sushi grade fish and specialty oysters on full display in the bar area. Nothing about the Jeff Ruby’s experience is subtle, and the oysters are no exception, the setting practically demanding you to order a dozen along with a gin martini or two. Between the oysters, the martinis and the band, you’ll feel as if you’ve been transported to Vegas in no time!
2437 Brownsboro Road • (502) 893-2062
Hours: Monday through Saturday, 4:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Given its timeless steakhouse charm, it is only natural that the menu at Pat’s would boast an oyster cocktail. Holding court as one of Louisville’s oldest restaurants, oysters at Pat’s are offered raw (sans-shell) or pan seared, with cocktail sauce served alongside. If you are looking to start your meal off with a bang, go for the seafood appetizer platter, which pairs oysters with Pat’s famous frog legs and cocktail shrimp.
900 E. Market St. • (502) 749-6200
Hours: Sunday through Thursday, 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 5 p.m. to 12 a.m.
There is always something creative going on at Rye, and their oyster offerings are no exception. With an ever-changing menu, you know the oyster selection and housemade mignonette will always be fresh and inventive, an ideal way to start off a meal at this NuLu staple. A tip for true oyster lovers: Rye has offered oyster specials at the bar in the past. Keep an eye on their Facebook page so you don’t miss out!
1325 Bardstown Road • (502) 530-0531
Hours: Monday through Thursday, 4 p.m. to close; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to close; Sunday, 10 a.m. to close; Brunch offered Friday through Sunday, with Saturday hours from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Sunday hours from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Roux’s tagline is “We are New Orleans,” therefore the inclusion of oysters on their menu is a given, as oysters are a staple in New Orleans’ cuisine. Whether you like your oysters chilled and served raw, charbroiled to perfection or fried crisp and served po’ boy style, Roux has you covered. As soon as spring decides to stick around for good, snag a seat on their Bardstown Road-facing patio and take in the sights and sounds of the Highlands while you savor the flavors of these New Orleans’-inspired jewels of the sea!
1538 Bardstown Road • (502) 473-8560
Hours: Monday through Sunday, 5 p.m. to close
Leave it to Chef Anthony Lamas to offer up a twist on the traditional raw oyster experience. Chef Lamas immerses fresh oysters in his housemade, chef-inspired Bloody Mary mix, along with plenty of vodka and horseradish for a not-so-subtle kick. Not in the mood for oysters in cocktail form? Then add the Ostiones a la Lamas to your order, which are his take on the classic Oysters Rockefeller dish, topping East Coast oysters with bacon, spinach, manchego cheese and a green chile crema before baking them until the cheese bubbles over.
Let’s raise a halfshell to the mighty oyster and our local restaurants that embrace this fine food. Louisville may not be seaside, but these dishes are sure to make us feel a bit closer to the ocean. Cheers!
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