Public Fish & Oyster

Public513 W. Main Street . Charlottesville, VA . (434) 995-5542

Why Public?

Maybe it’s our New England roots or the oysters in our blood, but The Charlottesville 29 would not be complete without an oyster house. Fortunately, Charlottesville has a darned good one. With its tight space, airy atmosphere, and displays of oyster cans, Public Fish & Oyster would feel like a classic coastal oyster house if not for its landlocked location on West Main. “Rustic, but modern. Beautiful, yet relaxed,” former Virginia First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe once described it.

The dazzling array of fresh oysters and clams changes daily, with roughly a dozen varieties from Virginia, the Northeast, and the Pacific coast. A chalkboard describes them all, from mildest to briniest. Don’t want them raw? How about fried, stewed, or broiled? But, there’s more than just oysters. There’s serious cooking, too. Plus, owner Daniel Kaufman spent years as a sommelier, so the wines, cocktails, and beers are worthy. He’s usually around to suggest a pairing.

What to Order

Regulars know that the happy hour menu (4-6:30 pm daily) offers a few treats not on the regular menu, like lobster rolls. Besides happy hour, the menu ranges from elaborate entrees to classics like Oysters Rockefeller and four different kinds of Moules Frites, such as Mariniere, Dijonaisse, and Thai, each served with Belgian fries and aioli. Below is a list of our suggestions, chef Gregg Dionne’s own favorites, and appearances in Five Finds on Friday, where a local chef or personality has named a Public dish as one of the best in town.

Our Picks

  • Raw Bar
  • Cornmeal Crusted Fried Oysters
  • Fried Oyster Lyonnaise
  • Fried Brussels Sprouts
  • Warm Cauliflower Salad
  • Lobster Roll (Connecticut Style)
  • Specials

Chef’s Picks

  • Lobster Roll
  • New England Clam Chowder
  • Lump Crab Cakes
  • Seared Atlantic Scallops with Oyster Mushrooms

Five Finds on Friday Picks