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The Best Seafood Raw Bars in L.A.

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There have been heaps of new seafood restaurants and raw bars opening as of late, so we figured we'd take one for the team and go fishing for the city's best. Trust us, you want to take the bait.

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Photo by Krista Simmons/LAist
Water Grill Santa Monica

The Water Grill in Downtown L.A. has long been a staple in the seafood scene, but their new Santa Monica outpost is just so much more SoCal. The restaurant sits on Ocean Boulevard, and is one of the best places to watch the sunset over the Pacific while slurping down oysters, live uni, clams, and cold lobster tail. The seafood towers don't come cheap, starting at $39 for two, but they're quite a sight. Sit at the raw bar and order a glass of crisp New Zealand sauvignon blanc and chow down on cold seafood. Save room for their outrageous croissant bread pudding with caramel sauce and you'll forget all about your cronut envy.

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Water Grill Santa Monica is located at 1401 Ocean Ave, Santa Monica, (310) 394-5669

Connie and Ted's

Michael Cimarusti's new Rhode Island-style seafood shack on Santa Monica Boulevard is probably the hottest reservation to nab right now, and rightfully so. Steamed clams are some of the finest you'll find on the West Coast; the lobster roll with drawn butter is damn near perfect; and the strawberry rhubarb pie will put your granny's to shame. But before you dive into all of that, go raw. The walls of Connie & Teds are adorned with wallpaper made of oyster order forms from Cimarusti's Providence restaurant, where he does seafood equal justice. Order a dozen oysters of chef's choice and you'll get 12 cleanly-shucked little bivalves of all shapes, sizes, and sweetness. Grab one of the craft cocktails and you'll be hooked. (Trust us, we've been back for round two already, with another visit in store tonight.)

Connie and Ted's is located at 8171 Santa Monica Boulevard, West Hollywood, (323) 848-2722

Fishing With Dynamite

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We gushed over David Lefevre's FWD a while back, and we're still smitten. The tiny restaurant, whose dining room is a mere 450 square feet, makes the most of its space by utilizing lots of light and adding funky little coastal design touches here and there. Lefevre's oyster bar is the focal point of the teensy dining room, and rightfully so. Here the exacting integrity of LeFevre, who had formerly run the kitchen at Water Grill and has worked with Charlie Trotter, is on display. The bivalves and other shellfish are always served cold and clean, and are shucked with precision as orders come in. You can order your oysters with mignonette, cocktail sauce, ponzu, or pico de gallo, but you won't really be able to see the subtle differences in the varieties unless you "eat them naked" as LeFevre says. There's also live Santa Barbara sea urchin, clams, mussels, shrimp, and Peruvian scallops served with grapefruit and ponzu. They can be ordered individually or put into a beautifully presented tower, the largest of which is the $145 Mothershucker, a whopping presentation of 15 oysters, 6 clams, 16 shrimp, 20 mussels, 1 whole lobster, 1 whole dungeness crab, and live uni that's meant to serve 6. Oh, they also have earth-shatteringly good key lime pie. Nuff said.

Fishing With Dynamite is located at 1148 Manhattan Avenue, Manhattan Beach, (310) 893-6299

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Photo by Krista Simmons/LAist
L&E Oyster Bar

Nestled next to the Silverlake Reservoir is a cool little spot where locals can lap up oysters and other mermaid-friendly fare. The daily dozen runs $28, which we used to think was too pricey for the neighborhood, but have now come to accept given the "Eastside's" nationally-recognized coolness cred. The wines are curated by Matt Kaner, also of Covell, so needless to say the sips match the sup.

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L&E Oyster Bar is located at 1637 Silver Lake Blvd, Los Angeles, (323) 660-2255

BP Oystrette

Like Connie & Teds and Water Grill, BP Oysterette offers both Connecticut and Maine style lobster rolls. And just like Water Grill in SaMo, they also have a fantastic view out to sea. So what's the difference between this place and the new nearby Water Grill? BP is more casual, with Mexican blankets to wrap up in if you get too chilly taking in the the seaside breezes on their patio. Their menu is a bit more pared down -- try the ceviches and the crudos if you're in the mood for something raw besides oysters -- and the setting isn't at all fine dining. It's just coastal living at its best. Ain't a thing wrong with that.

BP Oystrette is located at 1355 Ocean Avenue, Santa Monica, (310) 576-3474

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Photo by Krista Simmons/LAist
Hungry Cat The Hungry Cat is one of the very few reasons we'd actually venture into Hollywood these days. (Seriously, the parking is a beast and the crowds are just nasty.) The cocktails are tasty, but it's the peel and eat shrimp, littleneck clams, and marinated mussels that have us coming back for more. Sweet but briney Malpeque oysters were first introduced to us at this humble restaurant, too, so it naturally has a special place in our hearts.

Hungry Cat is located at 1535 Vine Street, Hollywood, (323) 462-2155

Bouchon Bistro

Thomas Keller's Bouchon Bistro can do no wrong really. Downtstairs houses an excellent bakery with killer kougin amman, there's Bar Bouchon's top-notch happy hour, and the Bistro's monthly Ad Hoc fried chicken nights. Another draw is the raw bar. Seafood towers overflow with the freshest of seafood -- which should come as no surprise considering the master chef's longstanding relationship with his purveyors. If you've got a group and you want to splurge, go for the Grand Plateau, which comes stacked high with
1 lobster, 16 oysters, 8 shrimp, 8 clams, 10 mussels, seasonal crab, and other market selections. Just be prepared for the Grand Bill; it runs $110.

Bouchon is located at 235 N Canon Drive, Beverly Hills, (310) 271-9910

Comme Ca

Chef David Myers' French bistro in West Hollywood has two of our favorite things: great cocktails and stellar seafood. (They also happen to make an excellent burger. But that's another story altogether.) The raw menu isn't particularly lengthy, but what they do have is quality. A selection of a dozen oysters on the halfshell come market fresh, as does their version of the Grand Plateau, which like Bouchon's goes for $110. We never said it'd be cheap. Just have a penicillin and you'll forget all about it.

Comme Ca is located at 8479 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood, (323) 782-1104

EMC Seafood & Raw Bar

This new Koreatown seafood spot, owned by the same folks who did Wokcano and Le Ka, is open late and serves not only fresh fish, but craft cocktails. If you're into uni, there are plenty of dishes on the menu that incorporate it. But it's also served live and fresh, which is where its sweetness really shines. This California-inspired clean eating is certainly a welcome addition to the neighborhood.

EMC Seafood & Raw Bar is located at 500 W 6th Street, Koreatown, (213) 351-9988

Honorable Mentions:

Quality Seafood Redondo Beach

Santa Monica Seafood

Salt Air

Sirena