Whether you’re in the mood for a Valentine’s Day aphrodisiac or just craving a Florida “winter” snack with friends, a freshly shucked oyster goes a long way. And in true South Florida form, we’re blessed with a bevy of casual to fancy restaurants where you can get the best. From residential Palmetto Bay all the way to the beach, find our six favorite oyster haunts below — and, of course, what to order at each. Happy shucking!
THE RIVER SEAFOOD OYSTER BAR Brickell
When owner and executive chef David Bracha opened his Brickell seafood spot 15 years ago, he knew he didn’t want to do a standard Oysters Rockefeller. Enter: Roasted Oysters with Manchego, chorizo and sofrito butter. For this dish, Bracha steeps ancho peppers in cream until the cream absorbs the flavor, and makes his own sofrito butter with onions, peppers and garlic. “We put on a little bit of the sofrito butter and ancho cream, add some shaved Manchego cheese, and top it with a thin slice of Spanish-style chorizo,” Bracha said. “You have a little bit of smokiness from the ancho and flavor and spice from the sofrito, and it all kind of melts together.” 650 South Miami Avenue, Miami; 305-530-1915; therivermiami.com.
ELLA’S OYSTER BAR Little Havana
When China Grill vets Christian Plotczyk and Jordan Marano decided to open an oyster bar in Little Havana, they wanted to bring the diversity of the neighborhood into the restaurant. The best way to do that: through food. Take their Oysters Rockefeller, for example. “Our Rockefeller mix is the traditional spinach and cream base, but we tighten it up by making an uni butter,” Plotczyk said. “We add lime, which is different, and toss it all with Japanese breadcrumbs and fresh herbs.” 1615 Southwest Eighth Street, Miami; 786-332-4436; ellasoysterbar.com.
STUBBORN SEED South Beach
Good, raw oysters are delicious in their own right, but try chef-owner Jeremy Ford’s Kusshi Oyster with a homemade Thai-chile mignonette and Fresno pepper oil, and the flavor is next-level good. For the mignonette, Ford minces shallots, sour apple, radish, ginger, and chile, adds Champagne vinegar and black pepper, and drizzles the oyster with a homemade Fresno chile- and orange-infused oil. Do as the Top Chef winner does and wash it down with a little Champagne. “Our French 75 is the perfect cocktail to pair with our oysters,” Ford said. 101 Washington Avenue, Miami Beach; 786-322-5211; stubbornseed.com.
MIGNONETTE Downtown Miami
When it comes to oysters, Danny Serfer — executive chef and owner of Mignonette — has his own golden rule: “It all starts with having a great oyster and shucking it properly.” He does that and more with his Oyster Flight, which comes with three each of West and East Coast Oysters, Oysters Rockefeller, and Oysters Frank. The latter is a Mignonette specialty invented by chef de cuisine Bobby Frank. “It’s got Manchego cheese, butter, bacon, breadcrumbs and a great oyster underneath,” Serfer said. “What’s not to love?” 210 Northeast 18th Street, Miami; 305-374-4635; mignonettemiami.com.
GOLDEN RULE SEAFOOD Palmetto Bay
South Dade locals swear by this laid-back neighborhood gem. Owned by husband-and-wife duo Walter Flores and Pam Mullins-Flores, this seafood market-restaurant has been in the same location since 1943. When you go, grab a table under the light-strung tiki hut and order the Oyster Po Boy. “We freshly shuck Gulf oysters from the Apalachicola area, hand-bread them with cracker meal, and we lightly fry them,” Mullins-Flores said. “Then we stuff them in a hoagie roll with all the good stuff: tartar sauce, lettuce, tomatoes and sweet potato fries.” 17505 South Dixie Highway, Palmetto Bay; 305-235-0661; goldenruleseafood.com.
ELYSIAN SEAFOOD Miami Design District
At this New Orleans institution, which opened a location in Miami’s St. Roch Market last February, serving the perfect oyster is all about finding what’s fresh. For the signature Charbroiled Oysters, shucked Gulf oysters are topped with a dollop of their made-from-scratch compound butter — it has roasted garlic, fresh herbs, Grana Padano, Tabasco, lemon and Worcestershire sauce — and breadcrumbs. “They go under a charbroiler until the butter is bubbling, the oysters have curled, and the cheese and breadcrumbs have browned,” co-owner Jen Sherrod said. “We serve them with a little toasted Sullivan Street bread to sop up the leftover oyster liquor and butter.” 140 Northeast 39th Street, Suite 241, Miami; 786-542-8977; elysianseafood.com.