5 Best Oyster Bars in London: A Local’s Guide

The importance of the oyster to the British cannot be overstated. In fact, we’d be bold enough to claim that the history of the oyster, really is the history of Britain itself.

Served on ice in sophisticated restaurants with marble counters or as a quick street food devoured by hand, London isn’t just home to oyster bars…it’s home to the best oyster bars (in our humble opinion).

Read on to learn a history about why the British love oysters so much, and importantly, discover where to find the best oyster bars in London.

Oysters and Britain: A Brief History

The history of Britain’s love with oysters dates back to the first century when the Romans were drawn to the native varieties and sent them to Rome. In the 11th century, the Normans and King William also had a taste for oysters. However, it was during the 19th century, under Queen Victoria’s reign, that oysters gained popularity among all social classes.

Unfortunately, in the early 20th century, sewage dumping near oyster beds and viral outbreaks caused a decline in oyster consumption. The introduction of the Pacific variety in the 60s revived the oyster industry, but it became associated with luxury and was less accessible to the general public.

A plate of fresh oysters with a lemon wedge
Oysters have a long history in British cuisine and have been enjoyed in the UK for centuries. Photo credit: Edoardo Cuoghi

Today, oysters are making a comeback, with various establishments bringing back the tradition of Victorian oyster bars. Native varieties like Fal, Maldon Rock, Guernsey, Loch Ryan*, Menai, and Whitstable are abundant and best enjoyed between September and April—a stellar way to taste British history at its most coastal.

*Fun fact: At one point, Julius Caesar himself allegedly wrote a letter claiming that Loch Ryan oysters from Dumfries in Scotland were the best in the world!

Where To Eat Oysters in London

Now that you know a bit about the history, let’s explore the top five oyster bars in London for a mouthwatering experience of the sea in the heart of the city.

Richard Hawards

Straight in at number one is our personal number one: Richard Hawards. Now, we know you’re not meant to pick favourites but the Haward family has been delivering the goods from the creeks near Mersea Island in Essex since 1792. As you’d imagine, they’re really good at it.

A group gathers to eat oysters at Richard Hawards in London
Happy supping!

Right in the heart of the iconic Borough market, these are priced as oysters used to be (allowing for inflation), and alongside lots of other delightfully traditional British tastes, they even feature on our Ultimate London Food Tour, which is the perfect option if you’re looking to get to know London’s oyster scene and its traditional other dishes all in one go.

The Oystermen

The Oysterman is London’s classy but cool oyster bar. Founded by Matt and Rob who bonded over a shared passion for seafood, it’s all in the name. The Oystermen is our go-to spot, not only for raw oysters but also for deliciously cooked and dressed oysters.

Our recommendation? Go for the Grenobloise with pickled samphire, brown butter and preserved lemon. Stay for the Queen Scallops Gratin or Whole Devon Brown Crab.

Perfect for a dressier sort of evening, their location near the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden and the theatres of the West End make this truly one of the best oyster bars in London.

Oysters on ice, with a garnsih and lemon wedge on the side
Some classic pairings with oysters? A white wine, or even a beer! Photo credit: Hanyang Zhang

Oyster Boy

Introducing a seafood-focused, nomadic, bespoke catering company: Oyster Boy

From birthday bashes to swanky shindigs and even really rather nice restaurants like Chiltern Firehouse, from humble beginnings at the Columbia Road Flower Market, Oyster Boy has grown into a mollusc-obsessed man of a brand.

A view of Broadway Market, in London
Broadway Market is a popular street market located in the Hackney area of East London, and a great spot to grab some oysters. Photo credit: Samuel Regan-Asante

Worried you won’t be getting an invite to one of the private parties they shuck for? Fear not, they haven’t forgotten their roots. On Saturday, find them at East London’s fantastic Broadway Market, or on Sunday, down at Columbia Road where it all began.

Wright Brothers Oyster & Porter House

We’d classify the Wright Brothers Oyster & Porter House as the dependable seafood experts. We know what you’re thinking…but dependability is a good thing when it comes to oysters. 

Launching in 2002, Ben and Robin were the forerunners of the oyster renaissance, and what they don’t know about oysters isn’t worth knowing.

The perfect happy hour? One that involves oysters. Photo credit: Ben Stern

With three locations from Borough Market to South Kensington, you’ll not only find a changing and seasonal offering of oysters, but a fantastic tribute to British seafood from coast to coast – Brixham scallops, whelks, or brown crab croquettes. 

Insider’s tip: The price of the oysters can change depending on certain deals throughout the week. Some of the locations offer a happy hour with reduced prices, so check their website, Facebook or Instagram pages to stay in the loop!

Randall & Aubin

At Randall & Aubin you’re in for a long leisurely dinner ranging from oysters (obviously) to classic Pan-fried Skate Wing, under 18th-century chandeliers, surrounded by the sort of convivial atmosphere that tells you that this place has been around a while and knows exactly what a stellar restaurant experience is all about.

Someone holds an oyster in their hand and eats it with a fork
So many oysters, so little time. Photo credit: Alicia Christin Gerald

It’s a pricer option compared to the rest, but is highly recommended…happy supping!

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About the author

Born in Britain and made in the Med, Shabby is a true ‘Enfant de Bohême’, splitting her time between her native London and her adopted home on the island of Malta. As a tour guide, writer, wanderer, and culinary history obsessive, she adores challenging assumptions about the food in her birth city. Spoiler alert: it’s fantastic food. Follow along on her adventures via Instagram at @shabbyontour

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