Good oysters grow elsewhere in the West, but on pristine Tomales Bay, an hour’s drive north of San Francisco, the Pacific oyster (Crassostrea gigas)—a plump, briny-sweet beauty with a cucumber-melon finish—seems especially delicious. That’s in large part because there is a constellation of great local places, on the water or nearly, where you can eat oysters that are just hours out of the water. The best spots for oyster picnics include:
- Hog Island Oyster Co., a rustic but gorgeous waterside picnic spot with reservable wooden tables and grills to barbecue your just-bought Pacifics—as well as delicate, minerally Atlantics and quarter-size Kumamotos.
- Tomales Bay Oyster Company, the oldest continuously run oyster farm in California (since 1909), specializes in Pacifics, and also provides tables and grills for picnickers.
- Drake’s Bay Family Farms, where a fascinating tour takes you from tanks of oyster seed to the growing racks. Buy the farm’s excellent Pacifics whole; shucked and packed in a jar; or on the half-shell, to slurp down at the outside table.