It is said that Casanova — the 18th-century Italian adventurer best known for his legendary womanizing — began his day with 50 raw oysters. No wonder, then, that so many refer to these briny bivalves as the ultimate aphrodisiac. Once considered a poor man's food, today oysters are more of a delicacy, and across the world there are over 100 species to choose from — a fact you can throw around this week when the country celebrates National Oyster Day on Sunday, August 5.
Most often named after the bay, ocean, or body of water from which they hail, oysters are known by a number of nifty names, including Blue Points, Kumamoto, or
Whether you're looking for a deal or simply a good selection, here are the best spots for oysters in South Florida.
1. Wild Sea Oyster Bar & Grille. You can end your search for the perfect oyster match at Wild Sea, one of two restaurants located inside the historic Riverside Hotel off Las Olas Boulevard. Here, each oyster is served $3 apiece; it can seem a tad pricey, but it allows the restaurant the freedom to source rare picks while maintaining a consistent price point. For bargain hunters, the real steal can be found during the daily happy hour, when — from 5 to 7 p.m. — select oysters are sold at half-price. On National Oyster Day, there's an even better deal: an all-day, all-you-can-eat special on oysters for $59 per person. 620 E. Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale; 954-467-2555; wildsealasolas.com.
2. Southport Raw Bar. For those with high expectations of divey-type places, this raw bar has a special appeal. You can stumble up to the docks almost any time of day and sup on platters of Gulf oysters, then wash them down with ice-cold beer from the bottle. Or, you can plunk down inside and escape the sun with an iced tea and a platter of steamed clams. Seafood here is as good as it gets: freshly prepared and downright cheap. If it's oysters you're after, go during the weekday and weekend happy hours when oysters are priced $16.95 a dozen from 4 to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, and again from 11 p.m. to close Thursday through Sunday. 1536 Cordova Rd., Fort Lauderdale; 954-525-2526; southportrawbar.com.
3. Bubbles & Pearls. If you're a virgin — an oyster virgin, that is — head to Bubbles & Pearls in Wilton Manors. Try your first raw oyster here, and it's free (one per person). Even if you're a seasoned oyster slurping patron, you can still catch some deals. As the name suggests, this restaurant from chef-owner Josie Smith-Malave is all about two things: sparkling wine and oysters. During happy hour from 4 to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday, you can order up $1 Florida-sourced oysters and pair them with specials on the house bubbles. The selection of East- and West-Coast oysters changes weekly, all of them served with house-made cocktail and mignonette. Be sure to stop in Thursday when the off-menu specials for the week are announced, always featuring a new Fresh Flight, a trio of raw East Coast oysters garnished with different mignonettes or a special topping. And don't pass up the tsunami shooter, Smith-Malave's take on the oyster shooter made with raw miso and wasabi cream in place of cocktail and Tabasco sauces. The additional lemon juice, diced cucumber, wakame, and Pabst Blue Ribbon is a rite of passage here. 2037 Wilton Dr, Wilton Manors; 954-533-9553; bubblesnpearls.com.
4. Racks Fish House + Oyster Bar. Downtown Delray Beach's Racks Fish House is one of the best places in South Florida to find raw oysters thanks to the restaurant's large raw bar specializing in a number of East and West Coast picks delivered fresh each day. A daily happy hour offers patrons quite a steal with their "Buck-a-Shuck," when patrons can order a chef select oyster (typically an East Coast pick) for $1 each from 4 to 7 p.m. (bar area only). On Thursday, the deal extends to all day long, with $1 oysters offered from noon to 7 p.m. If you'd like to reach outside the East Coast offerings, feel free to order any of the specialty West Coast- and East Coast-sourced bivalves for $2.75 to $3.50 each. Racks Delray is also one of the best places to visit come National Oyster Day, when the restaurant runs a weeklong special expanding its happy-hour special outside the bar area to include the entire restaurant all day long. 5 SE Second Ave., Delray Beach; 561-450-6718; racksdelray.com.
5. The Parched Pig. If you hate being told which oysters to choose during happy hour, look no further than The Parched Pig in Palm Beach Gardens. The wine bar and oyster lounge that caters to hungry and parched customers waiting for a table at chef/owner Tim Lipman's next-door sister establishment, Coolinary Cafe, offers quite a steal on oysters almost every day of the week. And the oyster selection on those deals is totally up to you. Mondays are buck-a-shuck, where you can choose any number of oysters for just $1 each from 4 to 6 p.m., all sourced from one to three national regions featured that day. A similar happy hour continues Tuesday through Sunday from 4 to 6 p.m., when there's no limit on the type or number of oysters you can order, these days for $2 apiece. 4580 Donald Ross Rd., Palm Beach Gardens; 561-360-3063; theparchedpig.com.
6. Papa's Raw Bar. Papa's Raw Bar in Lighthouse Point is known for many things, including its raw bar (hey, it's in the name). Here, you can get some of the best and freshest seafood around, sourced by its sister establishment and market next door, Seafood World. During the week, you can get a half-dozen Gulf Coast oysters for $12 or a half-dozen East Coast Blue Points for $18. Oyster lovers might want to stop by on Thursday, however, when the restaurant runs its own in-house special: half-off all raw and grilled oysters by the dozen or half-dozen. 4610 N. Federal Hwy., Lighthouse Point; 754-307-5034; papasrawbar.com.
7. G&B Oyster Bar. Oyster and andouille gumbo. Oyster stew. Grilled oysters. Oyster poor boys. And, of course, raw oysters: You'll find them all at G&B Oyster Bar in Fort Lauderdale, where any day of the week you can enjoy a number of East and West Coast oysters. If you're looking for a deal, head there during happy hour from 4 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, when you can get a half-dozen for $7. 429 Seabreeze Blvd., Fort Lauderdale; 954-525-2421; gandboysterbar.com.
8. PB Catch. At PB Catch on Palm Beach Island, the seafood selection is considered top-notch. Here, after all, is where you can find one of the most original menu items, a seafood charcuterie board. Of course, you'd expect the oyster offerings to be second to none, and they are. The variety changes on a daily basis, and there are typically anywhere from four to six different oysters available at any time, with East and West Coast selections changing from week to week. If you're indecisive, the restaurant offers an oyster sampler that gives patrons a chance to sample three types of oyster (two of each kind) for $20 to $25. Know what you like? Happy hour Blue Point oysters are buy one, get one free from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. daily. That deal extends all day long come National Oyster Day, when the restaurant will offer its buy one, get one special on each type of oyster available at the raw bar. 251 Sunrise Ave., Palm Beach; 561-655-5558; pbcatch.com.
9. Jimbo's Sandbar. Jimbo's Sandbar has many things: a killer waterfront view, an relaxing, tiki-style vibe, potent cocktails and tropical drinks, and a great seafood selection. It also boasts about having "the largest selection of oysters on the beach," meaning there's a raw bar that offers several varieties of East Coast oysters that change daily. A special menu gives you all the important info up front, from a detailed description of each oyster's origin to how it tastes. If you're looking for a deal in southern Broward County, it doesn't get better than Jimbo's Sandbar. On Monday, you can even play "oyster poker," where the chef shucks you four random oysters for $7.95. 6200 N. Ocean Dr., Hollywood; 954-927-9560; facebook.com/jimbossandbar.
10. Hurricane Alley. Longtime Boynton Beach restaurant and raw bar (they recently celebrated 20 years of business) Hurricane Alley is known for many things: super sandwiches, friendly staff, a loyal local crowd, awesome happy-hour deals, and — of course — fresh seafood. This includes raw oysters, specifically one dozen Blue Points sold for a steal at $9 from 3 to 6 p.m. during happy hour, Monday through Friday. Even if you miss happy hour, the price is still better than most places at $12.95 per dozen any time of day, seven days a week. 529 E. Ocean Ave., Boynton Beach; 561-364-4008; myhurricanealley.com.
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11. Spoto's Oyster Bar. You'll find Palm Beach Gardens' seafood and raw-bar institution, Spoto's, off PGA Boulevard just west of Military Trail. Here, you can find oysters on ice any day of the week, when Blue Points are sold by the half-dozen for $17.75. A second-choice oyster rotates weekly, and the featured oyster of the day sources all kinds from across the country, priced $17.75 to $18.75 for a half-dozen. The biggest draw for most folks is the daily happy hour at the restaurant's bar and Blue Point Lounge, when Blue Points are sold for $1.75 each from 4 to 6:30 p.m., excluding holidays. Pair the deals with any of the other weekday specials from Martini Monday, featuring a selection of $8.50 martinis, to Wino Wednesday, where you can get glasses starting at $6.50 or 20 percent off select bottles. 4560 PGA Blvd., Palm Beach Gardens; 561-776-9448; spotos.com.
12. City Oyster. At City Oyster in Delray Beach, oysters are the only food special you'll find on happy hour. Belly up to the bar and you'll be offered a long list of West- and East-Coast oysters with the day's fresh catch options checked off. Choose from any one on the list — and order as many of each as you like — and get $1 off each oyster during the daily happy hour special served Monday through Sunday from 4 to 7 p.m. It might not be the best deal in town, but paired with half-priced drinks and those amazing housemade oyster crackers, it's an offer too good to pass up. 213 E. Atlantic Ave., Delray Beach; 561-272-0220; cityoysterdelray.com.