Tomales and Bodega bays are perfect for oyster cultivation. Small crews of oyster farmers tend their crops from sure-footed 26-foot skiffs amid the cold, nutrient-rich water. The oyster beds are also close the hungry Bay Area market and those beyond. Tomales Bay attracts hordes of oyster slurpers, but the Bodega Bay Oyster Co. is something of a local secret. Located a few miles inland from Tomales Bay between Valley Ford and Petaluma, the oyster shop and restaurant delivers fresh oysters from their aquaculture operations on Tomales Bay. The juvenile shellfish are first reared in nearby Bodega Bay.
"Bodega Bay Oyster Co. is something of a local secret."
Bodega Bay Oyster Co. has been family owned and operated since 1985. Martin Strain and his children, Whittaker and Lindsey farm oysters on 92 acres of plankton-rich waters. Martin’s great grandfather moved to West Marin from Ireland in the 1850s where he farmed dairy and potatoes. The Strain family carries on that farming tradition today, albeit in the water instead of the ground.
"The Strain family carries on that farming tradition today,"
In addition to delicious Miyagi, Kumamoto, Olympia and Atlantic oysters, the shellfish menu also includes clams from nearby Walker Creek. The oysters stay fresh and cold in a big walk-in cooler with glass windows visible from the counter until one of the helpful staffers fetches your order and packs it in a bag of crushed ice.
"Enjoy your meal on a picnic table outside on the grass, raising a glass (and an oyster) to the good life"
All the shellfish are available on the half-shell or grilled. Or get a bag to go for a one-of-a-kind beach picnic. Better yet, head around the corner to the grassy picnic area, being sure to grab a bottle of beer, wine or cider from the well-stocked shop chosen to pair well with seafood. You’ll need an oyster knife (available for sale or rent), and perhaps a lesson, to pop open your own. For the ultimate experience, order a pairing flight, half a dozen oysters paired with three local wines. Seafood chowder, grilled cheese and other bites are available, too. Sit inside or enjoy your meal on a picnic table outside on the grass, raising a glass (and an oyster) to the good life.