Are you a fan of oysters? Then I highly recommend a visit to Hog Island Oysters if you’re visiting northern California. Not only are the oysters amazing, but the drive is incredible!
I didn’t set out looking for oysters. I was looking for cheese! If you love wine, I’m sure you enjoy pairing your wine with cheese. One of my favorite creameries is Cowgirl Creamery. While I was on my 30 Wineries in 30 Days journey, I looked for other places and activities to experience. Through Cowgirl Creamery’s website, I stumbled upon Hog Island Oysters – just a short drive up the Pacific Coast Highway from their creamery.
Make reservations. Seriously. Make reservations if you’re planning a visit on a weekend – even in January! I cannot stress this enough. While standing at the hostess stand, I watched a dozen people get turned away in front of me because they didn’t have a reservations. That’s not an exaggeration. And it wasn’t a single party of twelve. It was several parties of 2-3 people. Others were seated off to the side in hopes that someone wouldn’t show up for their reservation. Make a reservation!
But let me back up. I have another lesson learned (besides MAKE A RESERVATION). First, they offer free valet parking. Their parking lot is not a free-for-all. Can you guess what I did? Yup! Something you should know about me is that I drive a Jeep Wrangler. Jeep owners are a special breed. We like to park together and go out of our way to do it. We wave at each other when we pass each other on the road. It’s a special club.
When I pulled up to Hog Island Oysters, I spotted a prime spot right next to a Jeep that matched mine. I excitedly pulled right in. As I was getting out, the valet parking guy made a comment that I could stay parked there. Huh? OH!!! Oops. That’s kinda how it went down. I apologized profusely. He confirmed I had a reservation. And I explained that I was SO excited to see an empty spot next to a Jeep (because we park next to each other) that I missed any signs and just parked. He was very cool about it and reminded me that it was still a valet lot and I should hand over my keys. Ha Ha!
I was seated at my communal table that could accommodate eight people. I’m not entirely sure what was on the menu. I think there were pickles and charcuterie and salads. But, I was there for the oysters – and their Dungeness Crab special that I had spotted on their Facebook page the day before. Though, I did order a loaf of the Pt. Reyes Brickmaiden Bread served with cultured butter and a glass of wine to start. It was crusty and yummy. I only wished it was warmed a bit before serving.
I was torn between the Raw Oysters and their BBQ Oysters with Chipotle Bourbon Garlic Butter. Ultimately, I chose a half dozen raw oysters and that amazing looking dungeness crab special I’d spotted. My only complaint was that the crab was chilled. I wanted it served warm, too. It was still tasty and served with a Calabrian Chili Sesame Oil Dipping Sauce and a Parsley Vinaigrette. The chili dipping sauce was my fave!
I don’t know how to eat an entire dungeness crab. I wasn’t ashamed to ask for guidance. After a few pointers, I dug right in. Here are the before and after photos. I actually stopped the server from removing my stack of crab shell until I was finished – explaining that I needed a photo. Ha Ha! I’m sure I left a lot of meat in those crab shells – but it’s a lot of crab for one person. And I get bored easily with tedious tasks.
The oysters were easy! You just slurp those suckers down! They were served with “Hog Wash” and lemon. There were also a variety of hot sauces on the table. I stuck with Hog Wash and lemon. They were huge and amazing.
Tablemates of mine ordered the BBQ oysters to start – and I was instantly jealous. After finishing the feast above, I ordered myself a plate of those, too! And they were the best thing I ate that day! I really wanted to order another (or ten) plate of four. Warning – the shells are hot! They just came off of a grill.
The drive is worth it if you have a free afternoon! You’ll be sure to swing by Cowgirl Creamery and Toby’s Feed Barn in Point Reyes Station. If you’re going to make the drive out there, you might as well make the most of it!
You’ll pass several seafood options along the route. They were all packed! I wanted to try them all but didn’t have the time or room in my stomach!
I drove into Point Reyes Station via Petaluma and followed what is apparently Pt. Reyes – Petaluma Rd/Red Hill Rd according to Google maps. The scenery was absolutely stunning – green, rolling hills and farms and cows and winding roads. It was such a nice day I even pulled over to remove the front roof panels from the Jeep. I was so envious of the convertibles with their tops down, cyclists, and motorcycles. So, I joined them!
There is no mobile phone reception. At least on my carrier, AT&T. Finding a signal in Point Reyes Station was incredibly difficult. Thankfully Toby’s Feed Barn had WiFi. But, I pretty much drove “blind” up to Hog Island Oysters – thankfully remembering that they were located north on the PCH in Marshall.
On the way “home”, I chose to follow the Pacific Coast Highway north towards Jenner. It was late in the afternoon and the sun was starting to set behind the hills of Tomales Bay State Park. It was truly magical.
And, if you’re wondering how my parking situation turned out, I came back to the valet parking lot to find my Jeep facing out. I teased the valet that he just wanted to drive my Jeep. I was also over-the-moon excited to see that a third Jeep (of the exact same model and trim level) was parked on the other side. Mine is the one in the middle. Of course a photo was in order! I asked the valet to turn around the Jeep on the right but I don’t think he realized I was actually serious!