Ernest Hemingway waxed poetic about them in his posthumous memoir, "A Moveable Feast." The late, great lover Casanova was said to eat a dozen of them for breakfast. And scientists have confirmed that they are indeed aphrodisiacs (as if we didn’t know). So it’s no wonder that oysters are as popular as ever. Read on for our guide to eating the best bivalves across the city, and at great prices to boot.
With a happy hour in place all year round, this Williamsburg cocktail den boasts an impressive oyster list of over a dozen fresh picks sourced from bays across the country. For $1 each, diners can choose from little gems including the East End, Montauk Pearl, Kenny's Malpeque and Peters Point.
Offered Monday-Friday, 4-7 p.m.
298 Bedford Ave.
Grand Central Oyster Bar
At this midtown mainstay, executive chef Sandy Ingber says after the late 1990's and the economic boom, many varieties of oyster became available from all over the country. Now, they’re as popular as ever. “I have 30 varieties on my menu every day and cannot keep them in the house,” Ingber said. Oyster Bar specials include Blue Point oysters ($1.25/each) and fried oyster sliders ($8.95) in the lounge and saloon only.
Monday-Wednesday 4:30-7 p.m.; Saturday 1-5 p.m.
89 E. 42nd St.
L&W Oyster Co.
At this market-driven oyster bar, the atmosphere and menu are decidedly nautical. Weekday specials include $2 oysters – sourced from both the east and west coast – including hard-to-find varieties like Belon oysters from Maine (only 5,000 of the zinc- and umami-packed delicacies are harvested each year.)
Offered Monday-Friday, 5-7 p.m.
254 Fifth Ave.
The John Dory Oyster Bar
The best part of happy hour at The John Dory Oyster Bar is that it’s offered twice a day. Included is a choice of a half-dozen oysters or clams and a choice of a glass of bubbly or an English pint of Sixpoint Oyster Stout, a beer made from the oyster shells shucked at the restaurant ($18).
Offered daily, 5-7 p.m. and 11 p.m. to midnight
Found! One-Dollar Oysters
The menu features a rotating selection of oysters from all over the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions. $1 each, every Tuesday from 5-8 p.m.
111 E. 18th St., 212-673-2467
BLT Fish Shack
Find $1 Blue Point oysters and Little Neck clams along with other varieties of oysters and shellfish (pricing varies), as well as cocktail and beer specials. Offered Monday-Friday, 5-7 p.m.
21 W. 17th St., 212-691-1011
Blue Points and East Bay are among the varieties on the menu at this Upper West Side newcomer. Oysters are $1 Monday-Thursday, 5-7 p.m. and Friday-Sunday from 4-7 p.m.
240 Columbus Ave., 212-209-1055
Every oyster on the menu is $1 (Monday-Friday, 5-7 p.m.), and guests are offered a caddy of house-made sauces, served tableside.
945 Second Ave., 646-895-9585
Happy hour in the downstairs den includes $1 oysters served daily from 5-7 p.m.
525 Broome St., 212-966-9620
On Tuesdays and Wednesdays, this West Village spot offers $1 oysters until they run out, beginning at 4 p.m.
29 Bedford St., 212-633-0202
The oyster menu changes daily, with a rotating list of east and west coast varieties. $1 each, Monday-Friday, 5-7 p.m.
47 W. Eighth St., 212-253-9335
TOY Oyster Bar
Along with $1 oyster specials daily from 5-7 p.m., this bar features live jazz each Wednesday night.
18 Ninth Ave. (in Gansevoort Meatpacking hotel), www.toyrestaurant.com/oyster-bar
Tips from a Pro:
Start small: Chef Sandy Ingber of Oyster Bar in Grand Central advises: “Blue Points are my choice for beginners to start with. They’re plump and mild, easy to eat.”
Get naked: "I personally like to chew an oyster naked at first to get the full flavor profile. Then I will put stuff on top. Always try them naked first and chew," says Ingber.
Choose carefully: When purchasing oysters from fisheries, they must come from certified waters and must be tagged. Ingber's tip for buying directly: Look for a tag. “Don't buy them if there is no tag — ask to see it. Also, oysters must be closed tight. Don't use if they’re gapped or smell bad."