St. Roch Raleigh on Esquire’s list of “10 Best Oyster Bars in America Right Now”

by Omar Mamoon on May 23, 2024 | Reprinted from Esquire

Photo by Anna Routh

From classic seafood counters to new spots serving serious martinis, here are our favorite oyster bars—from New York to Los Angeles and beyond.

My rule of thumb is to always order oysters by the dozen and select four different varieties if possible so that I get three of each type. The first one goes down naked and unadorned—I want to taste its sweet, salty liqueur, and I want to savor the ocean from whence it came. The second oyster—same variety—I spritz with just the smallest squeeze of citrus; juice from a fresh yellow lemon is the only acid I need to cut and complement any salinity.

From there, I decide which version I like more before the third one goes down the hatch. Then I move on to the next variety and repeat this process, carefully considering and comparing each oyster’s respective flavor.

I don’t need a mignonette to mask, though a great one is hard to pass up. Consider it toward the end. Horseradish? Pass. Cocktail sauce? Save those for the prawns.

A little dash of hot sauce is a maybe—sometimes I like to change it up a bit with a little heat, but that’s as far as I’ll go.

There are plenty of places across America that aren’t on the water where I down beautiful bivalves to my heart’s content. From the old-school seafood counters and train-station institutions mentioned above to newly opened, regionally inspired bars serving up serious cocktails, here are some of my favorite ones throughout the nation.

St. Roch


James Beard Foundation nominee for Best Chef, Sunny Gerhart grew up in the St. Roch neighborhood of New Orleans before coming to Raleigh. He helped open the famed Poole’s Diner in 2007 alongside his mentor chef, Ashley Christensen, and a few years later, he struck out on his own, opening a seafood-centric restaurant, oyster bar, and ode to his roots: St. Roch Fine Oysters + Bar. Sit at said bar, nab the seats closest to the oyster-shucking station, and watch how the pros do it. The oysters come with fried saltines for snacking on the side; this will make you question why all saltines don’t come golden, brown, and delicious by default.

Read about the rest of Esquire’s favorite oyster bars here

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