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Jan 22, 2018
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Cheap Date: Love on the Half Shell

April 26th 02:04pm, 2012

It’s hard to explain the fascination behind consuming raw oysters. Maybe it’s that juicy, salty-sweet flavor, coupled with a heavy hit of sinus-clearing horseradish. Maybe it’s the massive pitchers of beer that seem to drain themselves while you’re eating. Or, perhaps it’s the oyster-induced surge of dopamine and testosterone flowing through your veins as you pass an afternoon away on a crowded patio.

Yeah, it’s probably the beer. Regardless, for serious seafood fans, raw oysters are a gold standard, and these classic appetizers have kick-started romances for decades. Unless you’re dating a less-than-adventurous type of eater, an icy tray of raw oysters coupled with a smooth lager or a crisp glass of white can be an ideal cheap date.

Whether you know it or not, this is actually a great time to be a raw oyster fan. St. Louis is flush with raw bars and seasoned shuckers who ship live oysters in daily from both coasts, offering fresh treats on the half shell all year long. This means the summer season as well. (The old wives tale about oysters only being safe to eat during months with an ‘r’ in them has been effectively debunked by modern refrigeration and harvesting technologies.) Think of oysters as an affair reserved for the 1 percent? Think again. Any oyster bar worth its salt has weekday specials. Here, a sampling of the best year-round raw deals in town:

{DeMun Oyster Bar}

Since opening in late 2010 on the sleepy strip of restaurants, wine bars and workweek hideaways, DeMun Oyster Bar has consistently shelled out an impressively eclectic variety of fresh undersea creatures for a multiplying fan base [http://www.saucemagazine.com/a/1477]. Usually cracked open and served for $2 to $4 a pop, every weeknight from 4 to 6 p.m. and Monday through Thursday from 9 p.m. to close, chef’s choice oysters are available for half off. Booze is marked down appropriately: $5 house wines, $6 select specialty cocktails and $2 Schlafly products (May I suggest the summer lager?).

740 DeMun Ave., Clayton, 314.725.0322, demunoysterbar.com


Sqwire’s might not offer the largest oysters in town (honestly a little small for my taste), but they sure do have ‘em in bulk. And the chic, power player atmosphere is fun in itself. Friday night happy hour at this Lafayette Square institution sees the main bar teeming with thirsty young professionals on retreat from a long week downtown who order up tray after tray of oysters for $1 per. Drinks are also discounted Tuesday through Friday from 4 to 7 p.m.: $3 drafts, $2 domestic bottles, $4 house wines and $3 well cocktails. Monday through Thursday, happy hour offers oysters for $2.

1415 S. 18th St., St. Louis, 314.865.3522, sqwires.com 

{Coastal Bistro & Bar}

Picking up in the central Clayton location where Mosaic Bistro took a nose dive, Coastal’s raw bar offers the well dressed, see-and-be-seen crowd slimy little aphrodisiacs for just $1 every weeknight from 4 to 7 p.m. For a dollar more, patrons can opt for oyster shooters – swimming in their choice of pepper vodka or tequila and spicy tomato. Drink specials aren’t shabby either: house wines for $4, well cocktails for $3 and domestic beers for $2.50.

14 N. Central Ave., Clayton, 314.932.7377, coastalbistro.com 

{Bristol Seafood Grill}

To put it lightly, this Creve Coeur seafood powerhouse is not usually known for its bargain basement prices. But Sunday through Friday from 4 to 7 p.m., Bristol’s opens its doors and lowers everything on its raw bar for the huddled masses. Fresh oysters are served up for $1 apiece alongside $5 house wines, $5.95 martinis and handcrafted cocktails, and $1 off all beers and well cocktails.

11801 Olive Blvd., Creve Coeur, 314.567.0272, bristolseafoodgrill.com




By Matt Berkley

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