Best Raw Bars for Oysters in Baltimore

If you lived in Baltimore during the early 1900s, you would find oyster shucking houses just about everywhere. Today, raw bars aren't as easy to find—but there are many places peppered throughout the city that are keeping the tradition alive. Below are four top picks for slurping down oysters, each with their own unique flavor.

Looking for deals on oysters? Depending on the night of the week, some happy hours around town feature buck-a-shuck oysters.

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    ••• Photo by Josh Greenstein (Flickr)

    Go Here For: The authentic seafood market experience

    This no-frills raw bar in Federal Hill opened in 1972 and remains one of the best (and least tourist trodden) places for fresh oysters. It's located on the west end of Cross Street Market, one of Baltimore's six remaining public markets. One employee has been shucking at the establishment for more than 40 years. Belly up to the raw bar and watch your oysters being shucked right before your eyes.​

    Tip: This place gets rowdy when the Ravens or Orioles are in town. One shucker reported opening more than 400 oysters an hour on game days.

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    ••• Libby Zay

    Go Here For: A sports-bar-like experience
    In a rowhome across the street from Cross Street Market is Ryleigh's Oyster, a tavern-like restaurant with fresh oysters. The menu has detailed descriptions of the various types of oysters available, making this a good place for a first-timer or someone who likes to experiment. Sit at the bar if you want to watch your oysters being shucked. 

    Tip: Every weeknight, Ryleigh's has a buck-a-shuck happy hours.

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    Go Here For: An upscale dining experience (reservations are recommended)
    This tiny restaurant in the maritime neighborhood of Fells Point is right on the waters of the Inner Harbor. When you're seated, you'll be given a sushi-style menu where you mark the type and number of oysters you'd like; the restaurant has been known to have upwards of a dozen types on any given night. If you're a novice, there's no need to worry: there are detailed descriptions of all the oysters. 
    Tip: If you stop by late at night, the raw bar remains open even after the kitchen is closed.  

     

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    Go Here For: A laid-back but comfortable bar experience
    This restaurant and bar in a corner brick building in the Canton neighborhood has some of the freshest seafood in town. Their oyster selections changes daily. Adventurous types can order an "oyster shooter," a raw oyster swimming in chilled vodka and cocktail sauce that's supposed to be thrown down the hatch like a shot. This place is popular, so be prepared to wait for a table if you arrive on a weeknight.
    Tip: If you sit at the bar, you can watch the oyster shucker at work.