Fans of the Urban Oyster flock to Jasmine Norton’s stand at Baltimore farmers’ markets to buy her char-grilled oysters and oyster tacos. But beginning April 12, they’ll have another, more permanent place to get their oyster fix.
This week, the Urban Oyster opens its first permanent brick-and-mortar location in Locust Point’s McHenry Row, in a space formerly occupied by Ruby 8 Noodles & Sushi.
Norton, who is from Baltimore, said it will be both the first black-owned and woman-owned oyster shop in Maryland. “It’s definitely exciting,” she said in an interview Monday. After two years of selling seafood on the move, Norton said she’s looking forward to having a place to call home year-round, rain or shine.
The Maryland Senate has voted to override Republican Gov. Larry Hogan's veto of an oyster sanctuary bill that was a priority of the late House Speaker Michael Busch. The vote assures the General Assembly’s override of Hogan, putting into law permanent protection of five oyster sanctuaries.
“We always tend to disappear in the fall and winter. That’s when the festivals come to an end,” Norton said. That meant she missed out on some of the best months of the oyster season, which runs from Oct. 1 through March 31, according to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.
In addition to the shop’s trademark char-grilled oysters, the menu will feature seafood broils, a lobster roll croissant, salads, burgers and wings for “people who aren’t seafood-crazed,” Norton said. For dessert, guests can order Taharka Brothers ice cream or lemon pound cake.
Customers will order from a counter at the new fast-casual eatery, but Norton said an assortment of board games like Jenga and Connect Four will encourage some to stay longer. “They can stick around if they like,” Norton said, and sit in one of the dining room’s 30 seats, or at the raw bar.
But farmers market fans need not fear: Norton said the Urban Oyster will still maintain its regular presence at the downtown and Pratt St. markets.
Compiled with input from readers and the newsroom, The Baltimore Sun’s list of 100 essential food experiences encompasses places people talk about, think about and come back to again and again and again.