Oyster Tasting at the Walrus and the Carpenter

The Walrus and the Carpenter is an oyster bar located at the south end of Seattle’s Historic Ballard Avenue. The restaurant is very hard to find. There is no storefront to speak of – only a small sign hanging from a door that leads to a hallway towards the back of the building. You would wonder how such a place stays in business but the Walrus and the Carpenter is always packed with diners.

The restaurant does not accept reservations, and the line up was an hour long when we got there at 5:15PM. We just put our names on the list and then left to do some shopping. By the time we returned an hour later, our table for five was ready. The room is not very big – seating about 40 people – but has a big open feel to it. There’s a lot of natural light thanks to floor to ceiling bay windows. The bar separates the dining area from the very small kitchen. To make sure everyone can see the oyster shuckers at work, all the seats and tables are elevated to the same height as the bar.

The menu is a single sheet of paper with food on one side and drinks on the other. The Walrus and the Carpenter is an oyster bar first and foremost. Depending on the season, there can be ten or more different oysters to try. They range in price from $2.00 to $3.00 each. If you’re an oyster lover, the Walrus and the Carpenter is your paradise.

While almost everyone comes to the Walrus and the Carpenter for the oysters, the menu includes locally harvested clams, house smoked fish, and specialty meats. They’re served tapas style and are meant for sharing. A full selection of wine, craft cocktails, and beer are also available. We started by trying the smoked trout, grilled Alaskan herring, salmon tartare, prosciutto cotto, and liked them so much that we kept sampling more and more dishes. By the time we were done, we ate through nine dishes and every oyster on the menu!

Dinner for five came to $150 with tax and tips. Extremely reasonable no matter how you look at it. I’m definitely adding the Walrus and the Carpenter to my list of favorite Seattle area restaurants. The place is a bit hard to find but well worth the trip.

The Walrus and the Carpenter

The Walrus and the Carpenter

The Walrus and the Carpenter

The Walrus and the Carpenter

The Walrus and the Carpenter

The Walrus and the Carpenter

The Walrus and the Carpenter

The Walrus and the Carpenter

The Walrus and the Carpenter

The Walrus and the Carpenter

The Walrus and the Carpenter

The Walrus and the Carpenter

The Walrus and the Carpenter on Urbanspoon

56 thoughts on “Oyster Tasting at the Walrus and the Carpenter”

  1. Kevin Kimes says:

    Some of the best restaurants I’ve been to are of the hole-in-the-wall variety. However, I don’t think I’ll ever eat oyster. It’s just not meant to be eaten by people! :)

    1. John Chow says:

      You’re missing out big time, man! Try it. You’ll love it!

      1. Michael Kwan says:

        How would you say this place compares to Joe Fortes?

        1. John Chow says:

          The Walrus is a lot smaller, a lot cheaper and every bit as good.

          1. Handbags says:

            I really want to go to the Walrus someday John :) That would be so sweet. Is the Walrus only located there? Or is it located other places as well? If not, hopefully someday I can travel in the area and check it out.

      2. Last time when you saw you eating oyster … You did not like it … If I remember correctly.

        1. John Chow says:

          That’s because that oyster sucked! These ones were much better!

      3. Handbags says:

        I totally agree :) They are missing out. I love oyster. It tastes so good and I never got sick when I ate it. It tastes so good with melted butter and garlic. Yum!!!

      4. UncleWard


        SHUT UP – do not encourage this poor simpleton to eat the good oysters! All the more left for the grown-ups! YUM YUM !


    2. Michael Kwan says:

      You’re missing out. Raw oysters are the best, but only if you get super fresh ones. Smaller oysters are better than the bigger ones, so look for East Coast (typically) and not West Coast oysters.

      1. Boy so many things to consider before having oyster ….

      2. East Coast is better.

    3. Oysters are pretty tasty, but I’m not into the raw thing.

      1. Yes you do not like sushi either … Isn’t ?

    4. d3so says:

      I agree, there’s something special about hole-in-the-wall restaurants.
      Never tried oysters either.
      Everything in the sea should stay there.

      1. PPC Ian says:

        Haha, everything in the sea should stay there, I like it! Hole in the wall restaurants rock!

  2. I tried fresh oysters opened though the use of hot water and it was not that appealing to me. :) I hope those that were made from restaurants taste better.

    1. John Chow says:

      You need to shack them raw and not use any hot water. That kills them.

      1. I am sure if any by birth vegetarian read this that olyster is meant to be eat raw he or she will vomit.

        1. d3so says:

          Some vegetarians don’t consider seafood as meat.

          1. They’re called pescetarian’s 😉

  3. fazal mayar says:

    i never tasted oysters, i always thought they were disgusting but never tasted them. I really like schrimps though, is there something better then shrimps? its gotta be impossible!

    1. With a little horseradish and crackers, they are actually pretty good.

    2. Handbags says:

      I love fried shrimp. Whenever I go out to the restaurant I always get them. They taste so good!! How do you like your Shrimp Fazal?

      1. Fried Shrimp = Amazing

  4. John now a days we are getting more food posts than money making …. Lolllzzz

    1. John Chow says:

      I do more lifestyle posts on the weekend. The business stuff are for the weekdays. :)

      1. So you are also making our weekends enjoyable …

  5. Oh my god that looks good. I love oysters, and could eat them nonstop all day!

    1. The food is looking pretty good in this post, no doubt.

  6. Sally was in full mood … simply lover her face expression …

    1. Handbags says:

      I agree. She looked so cute in that photo!!

      1. You should watch the video to see her in full flow …

  7. Yes i also accept that restaurant does not accept reservations..i like your thinking and your awesome post..

  8. Hey john,
    Sweet post dude,and My diet is more professional these days will do you much good food post

  9. John,
    Raw oysters with cocktail sauce and fresh squeezed lemon juice are the best.

    Do you have to ask permission to film in the restaurant?

    1. John Chow says:

      No, I’ve found it’s better to film and apologies than not film and ask for permission. :)

      1. Never ask for permission, only forgiveness.

        1. Handbags says:

          That”s cool John. I was always wondering how you got to film. So if I ever decide to film inside a place I will do the same thing you did and just say sorry after :)

      2. Kevin Kimes says:

        With the level of paranoia people tend to have these days, I agree. Nothing wrong with taking a little video of your adventures. Many people tend to get worked up about unimportant things while ignoring the really important issues.

      3. Yeah in past we saw that you shoot on many occassions on photography prohibited place …. Remember volks factory video …

  10. George Tee says:

    hi john, it looks like the place is really well known since its hard to find but have many customers. The oysters looks so very yummy, i would love to have some of that. Great lifestyle post.

  11. fas says:

    Amazing photos yet again John, looks awesome.

  12. Handbags says:

    Wow that food looks so amazing. You take really awesome photos John :) The video is also amazing as well. I wish I was there with you eating that delicious food then. I bet everyone wishes they were there. Yum!!

  13. John why don’t you shoot a video while you cook … We would love to see you cooking and also would love to see face expression of those perosn who eat your made food …

    What do you think guys ?

    1. John Chow says:

      Because I don’t cook. I eat. :)

  14. Yum – looks really good! I am a HUGE oyster fan so anywhere that has that many oysters is a winner in my book. All the food looked great…now you’ve made me really hungry!

    Looks like you’re really enjoying Seattle John, congrats and looking forward to more of these restaurant posts – I really enjoy them along with all the other great stuff that you do!

  15. If I only like Oysters man?

    1. Then Stocks definitely you will eat….

  16. Kavya Hari says:

    Primarily, i want to go that place and will try one day :)

  17. i personally want to try that east coaster.

  18. So colorful…i really like these and i want to eat to all….
    Your first above mentioned dish looks like a rice…..

  19. I love oyster…hummmmmm

  20. flash game says:

    the food looks amazing but i don’t like to eat raw food.

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