“Eating an oyster is like French-kissing a mermaid,” American novelist and native North Carolinian Tom Robbins once said. Some may not have the desire to kiss a mermaid, but for those of us who are fans of the bivalves but live far from any coastline, our desires must be met. Most land dwellers enjoy mollusks prepared grilled and coated in butter sauce and herbs or pan-fried then served on a Hawaiian roll with jicama slaw and a creamy aioli, but purists have no issue with the slimy texture and appreciate the briny flavor of raw oysters.
Raw oyster fans who reside in Dallas must rely on fresh distribution to our local restaurants, which can often translate into a higher market price, but the city also has plenty of eateries that offer bargains with oyster happy hours.
Boulevardier (Bishop Arts)
Tucked away on 8th Street off of Bishop Avenue is this neighborhood staple whose interior is brought to life by the marbled wraparound oyster bar near the entrance. Unknown to many, this charming dinner spot offers an oyster happy hour complemented with vino. On Wednesdays and Fridays, East Coast oysters such as Irish Point (Canada) and Thatch Island (MA) are $1 off from 4:30 until 7 p.m. In addition, every glass of wine is half off from 4:30 until 10 p.m. Wednesday, while bottles of sparkling wine $49 and above are half price on Fridays.
The Mitchell (Downtown)
Known for serving some of the finest specialty cocktails in town, The Mitchell’s half shell happy hour is rarely mentioned but deserves attention. Located in a 1920s-era building, The Mitchell serves Gulf oysters for $1 each 5-7 p.m. Monday through Thursday, with higher-quality oysters such as mild tasting Blue Point (NY) and Wellfleet (MA) on the weekends. After 7 p.m., prices jump to a friendly $2.
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Big Shucks/Aw Shucks (Mockingbird Lane/Greenville Avenue)
Those who don’t necessarily care which coast their shellfish hail from and just want to slurp a few while peeling labels off beer bottles can queue the Jimmy Buffet and grab a picnic table at either one of these locations. Both provide the vibe of a casual seaside dive bar along the Texas coast, and from 3:30 till 6:30 p.m. a dozen Gulf oysters are $7.50.
Rex’s Seafood at the Farmers Market (Downtown)
Take a break from shopping for organic produce at the only oyster bar in the newly revamped Dallas Farmers Market. From 4 until 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, calm that salty appetite with $1 Gulf oysters or choose from a rotating variety from East and West Coast breeds for $2. Wash them down with select bottled beer for $3.
Gemma (Henderson Avenue)
Bivalve fiends can head to Gemma for a late-night reverse happy hour from 10:30 p.m.-1 a.m. With $6 glasses of wine, $5 craft cocktails like a blood orange margarita and $3 beers, continue your trip to hangover island with a bellyful of East or West Coast oysters for $2 each.
Waters Bonnell’s Coastal Cuisine (Fort Worth)
For our friends to the west, try this impeccable happy hour at an upscale seafood restaurant adorned with walls of pearl white shells. Bonnell's serves a dozen oysters of different varieties at half-off menu price, from Sunken Meadow to Blue Island. You’ll feel like you’re taking a trip around America’s coastlines with each oyster. Offered 3-6 p.m.