There’s a long-standing wives tale that oysters should only be eaten in months that contain the letter “r,” and avoided May through August. This pearl of advice dates back to an English cookbook published in 1599 by Henry Butte, back before refrigeration made the shellfish safe to eat year round. However, some purists still believe oysters taste best in the colder months, as the shellfish spends its summers reproducing, meaning the meat can be thinner and less sweet. Petaluma’s close proximity to bays full of oysters makes this myth less than accurate, but let’s celebrate the season anyway with these six places to sample this popular seafood.
Bodega Bay Oyster
There’s nothing quite like going right for the source. These shells are plucked straight from the sea and can be enjoyed at picnic tables overlooking the scenic bay. Miyagi and Kumamotos come in various sizes for sale. Go on a Saturday or Sunday between noon and 4 p.m. and you might find them barbecuing, or grab a bag to shuck back home.
Address: 12830 Valley Ford Road
More info: bodegabayoyster.com
If you’re new to oysters or a seasoned expert, Seared is a good option for any palate. The extensive raw bar has different options so you can see what you like, or order exactly what you love. Oysters come from Drakes Bay and Hog Island, and are served raw ($3 a piece) or Rockefeller style with bacon-bourbon jam and breadcrumbs ($14).
Address: 170 Petaluma Blvd. N.
More info: petalumaseared.com
The Shuckery/The Oyster Girls
It’s right in the name for this new Petaluma presence. The Oyster Girls have long offered up extensive options for parties and catered affairs. They parlayed that success into The Shuckery, a seafood-focused restaurant where oyster shooters with house-made bloody Mary mix will set you back $4.50. But they haven’t abandoned their roots, they’ll still bring a traveling oyster bar to your celebrations.
Address: 100 Washington St.
More info: theshuckeryca.com or theoystergirls.com
Tomales Bay Oyster Company
When you’re planning a beach picnic, make sure to swing by this iconic shop. They provide a wide swath of oyster types (a dozen for $17-$25), along with all the sauces you can think of to spice them up, plus shucking knives, oyster gloves and even a bag of ice. They also offer a brochure highlighting local beaches with picnic tables, since the seafood cannot be consumed on site.
Address: 15479 Highway 1, Marshall
More info: tomalesbayoystercompany.com
If you like your oysters ready to eat, head downtown and grab them chilled on the half shell. One piece will set you back about $2.75, or slam a dozen for $30.
Address: 42 Petaluma Blvd. N.
More info: centralmarketpetaluma.com
Fourth & Sea
If you prefer a place that’s less fussy and more downhome, Fourth & Sea has affordable seafood options in a simple setting. Oysters are just $2.25, and a side of cocktail sauce will set you back only 30-cents. Head over on the last Sunday of the month for a classic car cruise-in with your meal.
Address: 101 4th St.
More info: fourthandsea.com
Hog Island Oyster Company
Oysters here are served with a side of salty sea spray. The freshness of these shells cannot be overstated, plus it offers on-site picnicking. You can book a picnic table from 10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. or 2-5 p.m., and they'll provide all the accoutrement including lemon, hot sauce, fresh horseradish and even a free shucking lesson. Bring your own beer and wine to complete the meal.