Oysters are an all-around celebratory saltwater delicacy, from sweet, jagged-edge West Coast varieties to salty-smooth East Coast offerings. So what’s a Denver oyster enthusiast to do when the nearest body of saltwater is hundreds of miles away? Luckily, several Mile High outposts are going out of their way this Saturday for National Oyster Day to shuck beautiful bivalves on which foodies can feast. Below, peruse our list of picks – with toasts to pair – that will honor this annual oyster occasion.
Early Bird Oysters and Pearls at Blue Island Oyster Bar and Seafood
2625 East Second Avenue
Oysters for Saturday brunch are certainly not a stretch – especially when engaging in mollusk merriment. Beginning at 10 a.m., patrons can take advantage of 99-cent oysters at this Cherry Creek coastal-themed eatery. If your Friday night antics delay your Oyster Day festivities, fret not; Blue Island Oyster Bar and Seafood extends the holiday at 6 p.m., when the after-rush batch will be available for just $1.99 a pop. However, the fun doesn’t stop with these edible aphrodisiacs. Along with the day’s fresh shipment of oysters comes one set of Tiffany & Co. Ziegfield Collection pearl earrings (a $225 value) to be gifted at 8 p.m. to one lucky entrant who stops in any time throughout the day – no purchase necessary.
Free Oysters at Jax Fish House & Oyster Bar
LoDo: 1539 17th Street, 303-292-5767
Glendale: 650 South Colorado Boulevard, 303-756-6449
Hundreds of free oysters on the half-shell? You heard right! Jax Fish House & Oyster Bar (LoDo, Glendale, Boulder and Fort Collins) is shuckin’ killin’ it this Saturday, beginning at 4 p.m. Following a tradition that began in 2014, each Colorado location will serve 100 orders of free Emersum oysters by the half-dozen, hailing from Chesapeake Bay, courtesy of the Rappahannock River Oyster Company. Once the freebies are out of stock (don’t worry, you can still order ’em up on ice for $1.50 each if you please), guests can indulge in oysters Rockefeller, buffalo fried oysters, Mornay baked oysters and dynamite oysters, depending on the location. Cheers to the day with happy-hour drink specials from 4 to 6 p.m. with a vodka-infused Strawberry Lemonade ($5), a bourbon-and-brown-sugar iced tea or some sudsy cans from the Post Brewing Company ($3).
Oysters at the Bar at the Oceanaire Seafood Room
1400 Arapahoe Street
For those who prefer to sidle up to a chic bar top for oyster indulgence, head to the Oceanaire Seafood Room. Enjoy dollar oysters all day, from 5 to 10 p.m., with a fill of Loveblock Sauvignon Blanc ($15 per glass, $59 per bottle) to pair. “We have so many wines that complement oysters for different reasons. This one just happens to scream summer,” says general manager Brad Moore. “The Loveblock Sauvignon Blanc is a natural pairing for oysters; the racy passion fruit and grapefruit notes really complement the sweet and briny characteristics of both East Coast and West Coast oysters. This wine has bright acidity, and a crisp, clean finish that will make you want to try another dozen.” The newest pour from the folks at Kim Crawford is made with 100 percent certified organic grapes.
Fried Oyster Sandwiches at The Regional
3200 Pecos Street
One of Avanti Food & Beverage’s newest outposts is getting into the holiday spirit Saturday with a unique, not-so-raw option: a Deep South fried oyster sandwich topped with the Regional's hot sauce and onions ($11). “We love our damn oysters,” owner Kevin Grossi says. “We’ve been celebrating those beautiful rocks every day, but we’re excited there’s a holiday. We’ve been staying true to our East Coast oyster farms – nothing like having an oyster that tastes like you got tackled by a giant, salty wave,” he shares. Rossi recommends pairing Avanti’s Colorado Chilcano with the oyster offering because of its easy-drinking nature with refreshing citrus that will counter the hot sauce without overpowering the oysters.
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Foie Gras-Topped Oysters at Stoic & Genuine
1701 Wynkoop Street
Union Station seafood hot spot Stoic & Genuine is serving an upscale take on oysters this Saturday. Along with $2 chef’s choice oysters all day, guests can savor an added fancy fix of foie gras for just a 50-cent upcharge. If it’s regular raw oysters you’re after, sip on some celebratory Gruet Blanc de Blanc bubbly from New Mexico ($18 per glass, $72 per bottle). For the foie gras fans, get hoppy with a tart and juicy Avery Liliko’i Kepolo ($7). And, for the lunch-hour crowd, there’s quite a mouthful in the oyster po’ boy banh mi sandwich ($15) served on a griddled potato hoagie with oyster pâté, kimchi, pickled cucumber, carrot, daikon radish and cilantro.
Champagne and Oysters at Wild Standard
1043 Pearl Street, Boulder
Certainly, one day in honor of oysters is never enough, which is why Wild Standard is making a week out if it. Whether you prefer your shells shucked from one seaside destination or another, Chef Bradford Heap is hooking up the masses with a coast-to-coast tasting from August 5 through 12. Heap’s helping will feature one-dozen oysters from east to west, and everywhere in between. From briny to buttery, patrons will have access to an exclusive tasting, which will revolve around what’s fresh from this Saturday to next. Wild Standard is upping the ante with a 375-milliliter pour of Perrier-Jouët (the special runs for $99), because what is an over-the-top orgy of oysters without the best bottle of brut?