Some like it hot. In Miami, we like it raw. From cold-pressed fruit and vegetable juices to jewels of the sea, the Magic City is a mouthwatering destination for rare offerings. I remember my first oyster. I was three years old and learning to read and write, and right at the same time I was learning to peel shrimp and eat shellfish. To this day, my mom brags about the compliments she received on my behalf. These weren’t how cute or smart I was, but about my penchant towards creatures of the sea and how well I handled them. It was love at first taste, and who can blame me? It’s tough not to lust after these singular shells that when shucked open reveal a treat. This adoration for mollusks only grew when I moved to Miami at the age of seven. For the past 20 years, I’ve been slurping my way through the hundred of dozens of oysters this city has to offer. And while I’ve met many bivalves I didn’t like, there’s none that I regret. Here are the ones I’ll never forget.
The River Oyster Bar
The name says it all. The River Oyster Bar has been shucking bivalves since 2003. A favorite among locals, this spot has a happy hour when oysters are just $1.50. Offerings change daily, but expect about a dozen varieties ranging from east and west coast to Canada. To heat things up, try the fire-roasted oysters. They are slathered with sofrito butter, Manchego, and topped with chorizo.
Lure’s raw selection blows everyone else out of the water. Enjoy waterfront views of the Atlantic as you tackle stone crab or king crab claws with your bare hands or slurp down kushi and beau soleil oysters. They come either totally raw or dressed in a jalapeno ponzu and pineapple salsa. Crudos proffer every kind of fish every type of way, from tuna tataki and salmon tartare to yellowtail carpaccio and sea bass ceviche.
Come to Monty’s Coconut Grove for the tropical vibe and stay for invigorating raw bar offerings and homemade spicy mustard sauce. Nestled alongside a marina, you can smell and taste the ocean. Prices feel like a steal, especially during happy hour when you can stroll up to the raw cart and fill your plate up with Blue Points, clams, and shrimp for a dollar a pop or Jonah crab claws for just $4.
For the freshest king crab in the entire country head over to Michael Mina 74, where the titanic crustacean is kept live in the Fontainebleau’s subterranean water world till dinner time. Simply take a seat and watch as one of three dim sum style carts pull up to your table with the night’s fresh offerings. From impeccably briny oysters and colossal shrimp to crisp crudos and a deconstructed tuna tartare, MM 74 is a feast for the eyes and a party for your taste buds.
Mignonette might be brand shucking new, but it’s what Miami’s been craving for a long time. Paying tribute to the oyster bars and culture of New Orleans, this seafood shack is insouciantly fancy. Servers wear tuxedo printed t-shirts, copper lanterns hang over Carrera marble tabletops, the mignonette is sip worthy and happy hour consists of champagne and caviar. And when it’s not happy hour, popcorn conch, chilled mac ‘n’ pimento cheese, fluffy croissants with lobster butter, prime rib with au jus, and eight kinds of perfectly shucked bivalves put a smile on your face.