Perla’s Seafood & Oyster Bar
Although Perla’s is known for its tree-shaded deck, the best seat in the house is at the raw bar, on a rustic stool with a glass of chilled muscadet or Chablis at the ready, watching the expert oyster shuckers pry open one shell after another. There are usually about a dozen and a half choices, mostly from the East Coast. If you are a novice, you can dress up the oyster by putting it on one of Perla’s saltine crackers—which are seasoned with olive oil, oregano, and chile flakes—and then adding fresh cocktail sauce, horseradish, and a squeeze of lemon. Once you learn to love their briny taste, you’ll prefer them naked (the oysters, we mean). Perla’s. 1400 S. Congress Ave (512-291-7300). L Mon–Fri. D 7 days. B Sat & Sun.
Even a newbie will revel in the smart selection of oysters at Montlake Cut, where well-heeled patrons unwind in the informal, nautically themed dining room. Forget the seafood fork: hold the oyster by its craggy shell, tip it up, and enjoy the cool, silken meat and salty liquor. Like a gambler, you’ll play hand after hand, adding drops of the house ponzu sauce or mignonette, until every shell is gone. Montlake Cut. 8220 Westchester Dr (214-739-8220). L Mon–Fri. D Mon–Sat. —Tina Danze
State of Grace
State of Grace is a pearl for Valentine’s Day, with an entire space devoted to oysters. Couples sit dangerously close in the Oyster Room, a sexy hideaway for slurping jewels from Canada and the East Coast, delicious new Gulf Coast breeds from Alabama, and large, creamy varieties from Galveston Bay (on the rebound since Hurricane Harvey). Casanova, who reportedly ate fifty raw oysters a day, definitely had the right idea. State of Grace. 3258 Westheimer Rd (832-942-5080). L Mon–Fri. D 7 days. B Sun. —Robin Barr Sussman