When it comes to oyster bars, Philly rules.
Jonathan Swift said: "It was a brave man who first ate an oyster." Well pin a medal to Field Guide's chest, for we're throwing caution to the wind to bring you the inside scoop on Philadelphia oyster houses.
If You Want to Get So High
You might feel a little dizzy as you sit 19 stories up slurping oysters at XIX (1415 Chancellor Court. 215.790.1919) in the Park Hyatt at the Bellevue. If not from altitude sickness then certainly from the prices. The East Coast oyster menu has a selection of briny bivalves from Rhode Island that cost more than you'd expect, but you're paying for the atmosphere as well. The interior design by Marguerite Rodgers looks as if a King Kong-sized Jackie Kennedy scaled the outside of the building and left behind a giant pearl necklace in place of a screaming Fay Wray. $ L G M
If You Like Portraits of Egocentric Restaurant Owners
The bar at Sansom Street Oyster House (1516 Sansom St. 215.567.7683) has the best happy hour in Center City for the oyster lover who also happens to be a drunk. From 5 to 7 p.m. every day, saddle up to the cold marble bar and enjoy a half-dozen Blue Points for $5 and lager drafts for $3. At these prices, treating your erectile dysfunction with tasty aphrodisiacs is cheaper than your Levitra co-pay. If that doesn't work, the portrait of owner Cary Neff is sure to get those juices flowing. O E/W H
If You're a Francophile and Not Afraid to Show It
New restaurants are like new pets; they need some time to adjust, and sometimes they shit on the carpet. Coquette (700 S. Fifth St. 215.238.9000), the new French bistro and sister restaurant of Sansom Street Oyster House, is a puppy in restaurant dog years. Overwhelming interest has created a chaotic scene of frantic servers practically sprinting through this otherwise classy oyster bar, where you can get the ubiquitous Long Island Blue Points as well as fruitier Effingham Bays. E/W M
If You Just Can't Stay Away From Stephen Starr
Striped Bass (1500 Walnut St. 215.732.4444) is located in a converted bank, which seems oddly appropriate since after eating their oysters you'll have to give them all your money. The tiny West Coast hama hama oysters, perched atop a mound of ice decorated with seaweed and cracked peppercorns, are oddly warm. $ L E/W M
If You're a Meathead
Philabeverage: Veggie Pairings