13 Chain Restaurant Oysters Ranked Worst To Best, According To Customers

For many who enjoy a platter of oysters, the sophisticated indulgence is worth paying top dollar. Slurping them raw is the standard, perhaps paired with a spritz of lemon and a dollop cocktail sauce. But the bivalve has evolved with the culinary tides, meaning that it can arrive baked or fried at modern joints. You may also wish to still consider recipes with a black-tie twist, such as the indulgently creamy oysters Rockefeller (and believe us, it's worth the effort of shucking if you care to make them yourself — here's an easy way to do it safely). 

But when skimming through all the chain restaurants hawking the maritime treat, deciding where to blow the big bucks is as crucial as parking the car and signing the check. A luxurious evening going belly-up from underwhelming appetizers? This isn't preferable, but it can be avoided. Patrons of these establishments can lend some understanding to whether the seafood platter is worth it, and sifting through their feedback helped us gather the winners and losers, whom we've ranked from worst to best. 

We'll delve into the nitty-gritty details of our methodology at the end of our list. But until then, mix yourself a cocktail and see whether popular shore up praise or descend to the depths.

13. Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steakhouse

Juggling fish and beef chops has been one of Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steakhouse's strengths since 1981, but not all the seafood coasts to victory. Oysters from the chilled section of the menu are served by the half-dozen and with a vinaigrette. The squeamish folks in your party may favor Broiled Oysters Casino, which includes minced bacon and red peppers beneath a breadcrumb crust. Unlike the standard half-shells, this is served four to a platter. 

Why did we put this contemporary chophouse at the bottom? Simply put, the briny buggers netted more complaints from clientele who expect nothing but the finest from this seriously expensive spot. Puny portions popped up most often in feedback, as well as the extravagant cost, at least for what you get in return. As reported by an OpenTable user, the shellfish "were very small for the price" and "not the best quality." Diners were also let down by the accompaniments that betrayed the Classic Shallot Mignonette Recipe.

Both appetizers clock in at $21 to $24. If you're clamoring for a pre-meal bite, the tuna tartare seems to be a far more pleasing option to tide you over than the oysters. 

12. Ocean Prime

Hopes were high for Ocean Prime, one of the major seafood chains that never use frozen fish. Unfortunately, patrons think the chilled oysters don't live up to the top-tier fare paraded elsewhere on the menu. One of the joys of consuming raw oysters is savoring that sweet-to-tangy ratio combined with the plump meat. However, from reports giving the starter a thumbs down, the skimpy flesh within the shell makes it difficult to detect a hint of flavor whatsoever. Declared one customer, "I could barely taste them – definitely would not be a dish I would order again at $25/6pcs." 

The price of $29 to $33 for either East or West Coast picks is also a problem since it's quite spendy compared to the competition. The cold appetizer should dazzle based on the high cost and it's disappointing to discover, in the case of one let-down Yelper, that "there was nothing special about the oysters" to justify the price. The eatery provides cocktail sauce, horseradish, and a classic lemon wedge, so it at least hits some of the marks on presentation. But as for really impressing the tastebuds? That's a different story you're not going to read here. 

11. Morton's The Steakhouse

With high-end chops and delectable sides, Morton's The Steakhouse glides into the raw bar arena with starter plates such as ahi tuna, shrimp cocktail, and raw oysters. From photos online, the Chicago-based chain presents these as a quartet, so you're not getting the half-dozen that are normally doled out by other restaurants. Guests tend to pay $23 to $24 for the appetizer. 

On more than one occasion, reviews lamented the shellfish's shrunken state and gawked at incredibly tiny pieces. Some diners claim to remember better days at the chain, because as a different commenter noted, "they used to be much larger." 

With the responses being as varied as they are, deciding whether or not to hit up Morton's for your happy hour fix depends on your aim. You might be disappointed by the measly morsels as a main, but if you're anticipating the juicy ribeye later on, the quarter-sized pieces could be just right to whet your appetite. Still, true enthusiasts may wish to hit a different oyster bar. 

10. McCormick & Schmick's

Chains that use the highest quality seafood might rely on exclusive fisheries to select the best catches. McCormick & Schmick's is no exception, brandishing a well-rounded curation of seafood from California to British Columbia. For a tasty enhancement, try classic cocktail sauce or a mignonette dip infused with fruity pomegranate. 

However, our research found diners to be so-so on the restaurant's oysters, whether they were cooked or uncooked. Specialties like the Baked Parmesan Pesto ($16 for four) or Buttermilk Fried Oysters ($15) were dinged for presenting a chewy consistency. One complaint noted that "the parmesan pesto oysters were way over cooked" and were texturally closer to a pencil eraser than springy, succulent morsels. Raw selections mostly remain ice-cold and teeming with flavor, although one visitor's less stellar encounter challenges whether the freshness can be counted on — in their words, "they honestly looked a little old and dry." 

Doing the math, a half-dozen shells currently totals close to $22. This is reasonable compared to other spots, but perhaps less satisfying to plunk down the money for the reasons above.

9. STK Steakhouse

Positive scores highlight that at a minimum, STK Steakhouse is serviceable for chilled oysters. Complimented with lemon, cocktail sauce, and zesty mignonette, the raw nibbles can also be found during happy hour at a welcome discount ($3 apiece). The restaurant generally leaves the shells behind, presenting most visitors with a decent bite to accompany one's favorite sip. "They were fresh, clean, and expertly shucked," according to a Yelp review.

That being said, delving into the bigger picture demonstrates some problems that prevented us from grading it more favorably. Reviews dock points off due to the weak quality that clashes with the plush price. Sure, a tray usually comes out on ice, but it's different when the shellfish tastes like it was just thawed from an industrialized freezer. We'll grant that sizing isn't an issue here as it was with Morton's. On the other hand, the generous meatiness is outweighed by murkier feelings on the taste, as one diner reported how "the oysters were large but the flavor wasn't very good." 

8. The Palm

Entering the luxury dining circuit in 1926, The Palm dazzles with high-end meats while incorporating Italian roots into revelatory dishes like Lobster Gnocchi or Sea Bass Oscar. Yet visitors are at an impasse when it comes to the oysters, sourced from Cape Cod and paired with two condiments — a cocktail sauce and mignonette spiked with fizzy Prosecco. "Raw oysters were gritty and tiny for the price," a detractor on OpenTable griped, whereas multiple patrons on the same platform lauded the oysters as a starter worthy of the splurge (an order goes for $24). "They were so fresh and so beautifully presented," an awe-struck reviewer commented, adding "We wanted the recipe and to take the chef home." 

One thing's for sur: the consensus is mixed. We can't fault The Palm too much here, even while it lacks the consistent wow factor that brings glory to other establishments, with oysters that meager in portion and occasionally sandy. Yet when the presentation is properly handled, as some guests have noted, the seafood can reach exquisite heights. In this case, judge for yourself. We'll rank it in between to account for the divergent opinions. 

7. Mastro's Restaurants

With over 20 locations in eight states (and the District of Columbia), Mastro's Restaurants centers elegant eating by sourcing unparalleled cutlets in regal settings. The seafood selection is equally diverse — for proof, just look at the Chilean Sea Bass or Bigeye Tuna — but you can whet your fish fix in smaller ways. On the oysters, though, get your wallet ready. Visitors will have to ask their waiter about the price since the menu doesn't currently label the cost. 

Shucking oysters is a technique that takes a little expertise, but we'd hope seafood restaurant staff have it down. Yet that's no guarantee considering one visitor sifted through specks of the mangled shell during their evening out. Others who ordered the appetizer claimed portions were small, and were dumbfounded by the negligible bits of flesh filling each shell. 

Truth be told, plenty of visitors walked away with a decent impression, but it's nothing like Morton's or Del Frisco's. On the other hand, needing to "order double what you think" as one diner advised doesn't cut it for luxury hors d'oeuvres. For larger parties, proceed with caution. 

6. Chart House

Restaurant-goers tackle the oysters from Chart House with ravenous glee. The appetizer garners most of its approval from the crisp quality of the mussels, arriving six to an order surrounded by ice. Once again, the restaurant doesn't make condiments clear, but the pictures we tracked down point to tried-and-true choices like sliced lemon and a tangy mignonette for brightening the mineral-y essence. 

The happy hour deal ($10 for a trio) makes them even easier to enjoy, but the purity — backed up rigorously by clientele — attests to the idea of quality, not quantity, thereby netting it a better score than our dining rooms sinking down to the bottom. Like any oceanic delicacy, they're cold, and most visitors claim to savor shells that are jam-packed with tender meat. "They were the right temperature with no grit and very fresh," one praiseful diner said, mirroring a different patron who applauded the appetizer as a must-try. To them, the "only regret was not ordering a complete dozen." Some diners took issue with the shoddy preparation of the oysters, however, knocking it down in the ranking.

5. Smith & Wollensky

Like many upscale steakhouses, Smith & Wollensky balances beef with seafood. Oysters factor into a handful of chilled towers displaying Maine lobster tail and tuna tartare, which you can splash with horseradish, cognac mustard, and other enticing dippers (green apple mignonette, anybody?) On their own, a half dozen of the East Coast oysters will amount to $22. 

Luxuriating in an iced batch of fine shellfish with bubbly champagne is one of the draws luxury chophouses carry. By a wider margin than most, past visitors have thoroughly enjoyed their oysters, praising the tender richness and side accompaniments. Per one commenter, "the oysters were sweet, briny and absolutely fresh," and additional feedback largely followed the same pattern. Guests also found the zesty condiments did a good job of enhancing the taste. 

Not every morsel can be a pearl, and the steakhouse titan just doesn't net the consistency to devour its better-performing peers. As such, the micro-chain stands as a suitable, albeit imperfect choice. According to one commenter on Yelp, "The oysters were...not the freshest, and tasted strongly of seawater." 

4. Legal Sea Foods

Legal Sea Foods is already a household name among New Englanders. The fish under its roof is prized for being some of the finest since they're sourced directly from seafaring anglers. Even when venturing out for the decorated clam chowder (more than 25 outposts line the East Coast), guests might consider sharing some oysters to whet their appetite. Species rotate, but previous offerings include Wellfleets from Massachusetts, celebrated for their salty disposition. 

As predicted, the smooth salinity defining this seaside staple is present and accounted for, judging by the mainly positive scores granted by past customers. Spending $3.50 per oyster is a bit above other eateries, though diners report that the quality is superb. One guest was beyond pleased, claiming on TripAdvisor that "there are not many places we feel safe ordering raw oysters, but Legal will always be one of them." The superb quality was a hit among other patrons too, who doled out praise synonymous with some of the best seafood platters around. "Really enjoyed the oysters," wrote an OpenTable user. "Right size, tasty, briny, and super fresh." 

3. Eddie V's Prime Seafood

If you're particular about your oysters, Eddie V's Prime Seafood hawks a stunning array to pick from. Between Connecticut Blue Points or the Pink Moons of Prince Edward Island, enthusiasts can assemble their medleys. Its highly-ranked seafood tower might be a good option if your group wants to sample multiple types of seafood. 

Regardless of the premium price tag, shout-outs by the eatery's clientele managed to wash out the critiques, which were few and far between. "Beautifully briny and immaculately fresh" was one reviewer's takeaway on the seafood itself, but the garnishes pull their weight as well. On condiments, the restaurant earned points by enticing the palate with complimentary pairings, a necessity for delicate and delicious mussels. "What a nice surprise to see beautiful plump oysters beautifully served with both a vinaigrette and cocktail sauce," observed an awed visitor.

Even if it didn't earn our top spot, Eddie V's still gets the edge over others for its oysters. The sheer variety, plus the consistently favorable comments, makes this scrumptious starter a must for future indulging. 

2. Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar

It's tempting to gawp at Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar's pricing. It may feel that $49 for a dozen (half that cost for six) is practically obscene ... until you remember what kind of eatery we're talking about. Crowning it as a top contender only makes sense considering the mollusks have been selectively culled and shucked before hitting the ice bucket.   

"The oysters were incredible – tasted like they had just come out of the sea," raved one reviewer, who was joined by waves of similar odes clamoring over the mussels. Spritzing on lemon or dousing the tender meat in piquant mignonette serves an important function, but another foodie was so smitten by the quality they skipped the condiments altogether. Clearly, Fleming's doesn't have to rely on petty distractions when the seafood speaks for itself. 

The high-quality ingredients could push us to give the gold to Fleming's, but our focus here is on the big picture. And in terms of a tasty raw bar experience that's accessible to many, one chain was able to swoop to number one. 

1. The Capital Grille

In a nutshell (or seashell), The Capital Grille out-shucked the competition. For the platter (a half dozen, in this case), charging $21 seemed surprisingly reasonable. But, more than that, the six morsels are beautifully presented, with each oyster bearing a moist, pulpy center that balances its oceanic elements with characteristic sweetness. This sophisticated starter that's easy on the checking account was on-point, according to customers. "The main reason I would come back would be for the oysters," a pleased visitor reported, vowing "You will be seeing me at the bar more often."

Taking a peek at the menu, the description simply lists mignonette dressing for palate-enhancers. Scaling back the amount of sauces allows you to appreciate the oysters themselves. There are also no crushed bits of shell to ruin the smoothness, either. "The oysters were great – clean, fresh and cold," one patron wrote, whereas another didn't hesitate to declare them an all-time favorite: "Some of the best I've ever had, and I'm a real connoisseur!" 


The chophouses we rated mainly cater to upscale clientele, but slapping on a high price tag is no indicator of high-end oysters. So, we assessed online reviews on trusted sites including Yelp, TripAdvisor, OpenTable, and Google to see what customers honestly thought. 

Since this feedback is subjective, it was important to also examine more concrete factors, including how the shellfish were sourced and at what price they were served.