New Orleans is a melting pot of cuisines, but the area’s local flavors are still the most sought after by both tourists and residents. The Gulf of Mexico provides New Orleans with some of the best seafood you can find, including the sweetest and juiciest oysters around. If you happen to be taking a trip to New Orleans soon, an oyster feast has to be part of your itinerary. We’ve scoured the city for the best and most affordable oysters we could find, and we’ve come up with this list. Here are New Orleans’ best restaurants that offer free or cheap oysters.
Famed chef John Besh’s name is all over New Orleans. He’s got at least four or five restaurants in town, and every single one is pretty spectacular. Lüke is easily one of our favorites for many reasons. First, the drink selections are amazing. You can go to the bar and ask to be surprised, and they’ll definitely create something unique for you. The food is also something to rave about. There’s an open kitchen where you can see all the action happen and smell where all the goodness is coming from. Of course, the oysters are as fresh as you’d want them to be. During happy hour—which is every day from 3-6pm—you can get your half-shells for only 75 cents apiece or have them fried for $1.25 each. Thrillist ranks Lüke as one of its top oyster restaurants in New Orleans as well. It’s a place you’re not going to want to miss out on. The vibe is just right given that the restaurant is in the historic Hilton Downtown, and it’s also a little bit further away from the craziness of Jackson Square. You can jump on the trolley right after to get to other places in the area, but plan to stay at Lüke’s for a while because you’re going to want to.
If you’re a fan of oysters altogether, you’d appreciate what Seaworthy offers. The restaurant not only sources their oysters in the gulf but in other places as well. That means you’ll get a nice variety of oysters and oyster flavors. Located in the warehouse district of New Orleans, the restaurant is quite unassuming from the outside. But the interior is an experience in and of itself. The bar is located downstairs and the restaurant is upstairs. If you’re going solely for the oysters, just head on right downstairs for an amazing experience. Happy hour happens from Monday to Friday between 4 to 6pm. You can get your oysters for half off regular price. In fact, you can get everything on the menu for half the price during happy hour—so you’ll definitely be happy indeed.
There’s something extremely sexy about shooting down raw oysters, and maybe that’s because oysters are an aphrodisiac to begin with. If this is the vibe you’re going for, Balise is the place for you. Truth is you don’t need that vibe to eat at this restaurant. It’s just one of those places that’s also a must-visit in New Orleans. According to Eater New Orleans, “Balise evokes the feel of a well-dressed gentleman farmer.” That’s more than enough to get us to go for sure. Happy hour at Balise starts at 4:30 and goes on longer than most places—until 7pm. While oysters sell for $1 apiece during this time, which is more than other places, it’s still cheap considering you can pair them with $5 cocktails and wine. Even if you just get a dozen oysters at most, you’ll still enjoy the intimate atmosphere. You should also know that the restaurant is the child of James Beard Award winner Justin Devillier, who also happens to be the owner of La Petit Grocery.
4. Cooter Brown’s Tavern
There’s only one place in New Orleans you should go to on a Tuesday night, and that’s Cooter Brown’s Tavern on Carrollton Avenue. Happy hour every Tuesday starts at 3pm and lasts until the sports bar closes. That means half off oysters pretty much until you can handle them. Cooter Brown is also known for its extensive beer selection. What better drink to pair your oysters with than a fresh pint of your favorite beer? While Cooter Brown is mostly designated as a college hangout, there’s nothing stopping you from enjoying your time here. It’s a favorite spot among locals to watch games on TV. There are plenty of screens to go around. So if you prefer a louder ambiance, Cooter Brown’s Tavern is the perfect place for you to be. And of course, happy hour happens on other days of the week as well. Tuesdays just happen to be our favorite day of the week.
5. Acme Oyster House
We know we’ve said it before, but we really mean it this time. If there’s one place you have to go to in New Orleans for oysters, it’s going to have to be Acme Oyster House. This restaurant is the ultimate place for oyster—hence the name. With over 8,000 reviews and 4.5 stars on Tripadvisor, it’s clear that the masses have spoken. You can never go wrong at Acme. It’s the oldest and most famous oyster house in New Orleans, and they’re famous for the very thing they serve most. Oysters here fly out of the kitchen because of how busy they are, which also means that they’ve perfected the art of shucking. Make sure you try their spicy Bloody Mary that’s topped with oysters. You’ll want more than one for sure. Being at Acme is a total experience you’re not going to want to miss. You might even come back the following night for more.