New York can be cruel. Long workdays, unpredictable commutes, exorbitant prices–it feels like we must be gluttons for punishment. But don’t fret you tired, you poor, you huddled masses! With the abundance of oyster happy hour specials around the city, we can now indulge in another form of gluttony. As summer temperatures climb, prices have dropped and these briny bivalves are easier to come by than ever. With each salty slurp, these deals will temporarily transport you away from the concrete and chaos to the serenity of sandy shores–at least until 7 p.m., when happy hour comes to a screeching halt, prices skyrocket, and we’re tossed back out onto the sidewalks.
For those who seek a straightforward approach to oyster consumption that demystifies the ritual of the raw bar, BLT Fish Shack is a great place to start. This downstairs, casual counterpart to the more upscale BLT Fish is an homage of sorts to the New England fish house. Happy hour starts at 5 p.m. and offers $1 Blue Point oysters, $5 Blue Point beer, and $7 Shark Bite cocktails (a delightful pink concoction of sparkling wine, blood orange, and cassis). Blue Point oysters are regulars on the New York oyster scene, as they hail from off the coast of Long Island. Plump, briny, and even slightly sweet, these medium-sized shellfish are an easy introduction to the oyster family.
Another great spot to find Blue Point oysters is the John Dory Oyster Bar in the Ace Hotel. This popular happy hour haunt is often filled with a lively after-work crowd. With cool white tile, a large raw bar, and fish tanks suspended from the ceiling, the décor at the John Dory is evokes a fish market, though a swank one. Their happy hour deal from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. each day includes six Blue Points or clams on the half shell with a glass of sparkling wine or a pint of oyster stout ale for $15.
Lure Fishbar, a great locale for those whose palates are aquatically inclined, has both Blue Point oysters and Naked Cowboy oysters. While Blue Points come from the Great South Bay of Long Island, Naked Cowboys are a less briny, wild-grown alternative to their Long Island Sound companions and are named after Times Square’s scantily clad guitar player. Every Monday to Friday, these oysters are just $1.50 a pop, with $8 cocktails, $7 wines, and $5 beers.
Bellwether in Williamsburg also serves up Long Island oysters for a steal. $10 gets you six oysters, served with a truly remarkable cocktail sauce, and a glass of Riesling. Arranged in two tiers over a bed of ice, Bellwether’s oysters are large, firm, and meaty. Light green banquettes, a beautiful wooden bar, and antique fixtures make this Brooklyn locale an incredible find–dare we say, a real pearl in an oyster?
Ten Bells on Ludlow and Broome is another attractive option for a cheap shuck. This all-natural wine bar has a daily oyster special that offers oysters for just $1.25 a shell, beginning at 5 p.m. during the week (and as early as 3 p.m. on the weekends). The three-sided bar is lined with ice-filled troughs, brimming with oysters to accommodate the bivalve-happy city dweller. Ten Bells is currently offering Saint Simon oysters from New Brunswick and East Beach Blonde oysters from Rhode Island. This haunt is worth a visit both for this deal and for the formidable wine list, scrawled in chalk on boards hung from brick walls.
For the connoisseur who knows their way around these salty mollusks, Maison Premiere, a self-proclaimed “oyster house and cocktail den,” is home to an impressive, if not overwhelming, array of oysters. With a nightly average of 12 to 15 varieties of oysters on deck from both the East and West coasts and an absinthe-heavy cocktail list, this dollar-a-shuck happy hour is perhaps not for those of us still finding our sea legs.
Fish restaurant on Bleecker Street has perhaps the most economically appealing happy hour special of this bunch. This long-running oyster special boasts six Blue Point oysters, or half clams, and a glass of PBR or house wine for a mere eight dollars. For the penny-pinching land-lubber, this deal goes down easy. No longer are New Yorkers adrift in a sea of inaccessible indulgence–these offerings will keep us afloat, in even the most treacherous of temperatures.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on June 26, 2012