The Lonely Oyster in Echo Park is one of those impossibly cool restaurants that doesn't need to do too much to be remarkable. The door on Echo Park Blvd is unassuming, save for the signage when you look up into the California sky and spot the signature oyster symbol emblazoned on a tiny sailing flag. The dining room is maritime-themed without being kitschy, with dark navy blue walls and gold hardware, and a single red life preserver over the bar. The team behind the restaurant includes owner Don Andes (Little Joy/ Holloway), Creative Director Jena Corbin, Chef Carlos Lopez, and GM Sam Valle. The Lonely Oyster specializes in "Saltwater-inspired fare" that doesn't discriminate by region, so all briny bits are welcome here! Are you ready to dive in?
Begin with Maritime Cocktails
The cocktails are all signature creations of the mixologists on staff, who can even suggest which drink pairs best with what oyster. There's something for every spirit of choice, but I'm always a sucker for a martini. The Lonely Oyster Martini is available as is ($17) or with a freshly shucked oyster and "cavi-bump" ($13 add-on).
There are six different flavor profiles of Oysters on the menu, from New Zealand to Vancouver Island. I enjoyed a dozen of the Kaipara from New Zealand, which are described as crisp with a cucumber melon finish ($25/47). While I always enjoy raw oysters, I'm not sure I could ever distinguish one based on finishes - and I feel like an impostor describing things such as the salinity of the water to you. The staff are experts, though, and make you feel like you're one of them. You'll leave more educated and less hungry for sure.
All oysters are served with traditional horseradish and an assortment of sauces like Citrus Soy and Calabrian Chili Oil - which was a personal favorite.
More to Love
I visited during a preview pop-up, and only a third of the menu was available, but EVERYTHING was done well. The Shrimp Arancini is a wonderful twist on a popular dish ($16), and the Mozz-Melon Balls swim in a delicious balsamic vinegar. The Salmon Crudo is a major crowd pleaser ($17), and the Old Bay Fries are a must ($10) when you're slurping icy oysters.
The menu also includes substantial dishes like a Lobster Roll and Fish and Chips ($24).
The wine list was created by Sommelier Adam Ohler, who has done a terrific job of adding interesting wines that you can't find just anywhere in an unpretentious way. The list is succinct and doesn't overwhelm, and the prices are more than fair. Once again, trust the staff's recommendations. The white Muscadet from the Loire valley was perfect with the oysters ($12). I dare say if you're more of a wine person, skip the cocktail and just double up here.
Don't Skip Dessert
A meal isn't complete without something sweet, and Chocolate Mousse is downright decadent ($14). The taste of the chocolate is so complex that you'll need to keep eating it to really nail down the flavor - no judgment if you finish it all by yourself :).
But does Los Angeles need more Oyster Bars?
The oyster bar is definitely having a moment, with restaurants like Found Oyster and Connie and Ted's rarely wavering in popularity. The difference with The Lonely Oyster though, is that it aims to be a port in the storm for this busy stretch of Echo Park that lacks multiple options for late-night and late weekend brunchers. It's also Echo Park's first Saltwater Bar and a welcome addition to the neighborhood.
When to Visit
The Lonely Oyster is open on September 3rd and 4th from noon to midnight and Labor Day, September 5th, for a Low Country Boil from noon to 8 p.m. Make your reservations by emailing email@example.com or by going to their website.
The Grand Opening is September 8th, beginning at 5 p.m. Weekend Brunch begins on Saturday, September 17th at noon.
The Lonely Oyster: 1320 Echo Park Avenue Los Angeles, CA 90026