raw oystersCupid’s bow is strung, the candy hearts are out, and there’s no shortage of $75-a-plate ways to dine with your sweetie this Valentine’s Day. But do the two of you really want to spend next Saturday plodding through four or five overwrought, overgarnished courses, just one more pair of credit-card-toting giraffes shuffling in for feeding time at the Ark?

Especially when you could take that same chunk of change and spend it on a week or more of the best aphrodisiac Nature can provide. I’m talking, of course, of oysters, and better yet, of the $1 (or even free) oysters on the half-shell available all around town. Besides the pure taste appeal of their sea-kissed succulence, oysters are rich in minerals (especially iron, calcium and zinc) and B vitamins, and high in protein. Plus, raw oysters seem to go hand-in-hand (or hand-to-mouth) with a certain kind of adventurous sensuality. I wouldn’t turn down a date with an oyster-hater, but I’d certainly put on my fancy panties for a second date with an oyster lover.

So, where to find them on the cheap? The key is getting there early; most restaurants and bars offer their oyster deals as part of happy hour, hoping to pique your appetite just enough so you’ll pony up for some real grub, or at least run up a decent bar tab. Others use the deal to pull in customers on otherwise slow nights. Here, a few to jot down in your little black book:

Luka’s Taproom, in uptown Oakland, offers good-quality oysters at $1 a pop every Monday night. Monday’s also $1 oyster night in the Castro at the Woodhouse Fish Company. At Hog Island Oyster Company in San Francisco’s Ferry Building, there’s a very popular happy hour on Mondays and Thursdays from 5-7pm, with $1 oysters and $3.50 pints. The Asian-infused Eos in Cole Valley features $1 oysters (served by the half or full dozen) on the happy-hour menu from 5:30-7pm, Sunday through Thursday. In the northeast Mission, Circolo does $1 oysters from 5-7pm, Tuesday through Friday, in the bar and lounge.

At Berkeley’s Sea Salt, there’s a chef’s choice of $1 oysters every day from 3-6pm. Also in Berkeley, the stylish Cafe Rouge does $1 oysters Tuesday through Thursday, from 5:30-9:30pm.

And if you really don’t want to split your cash between beer and food, head over to the Mission’s El Rio for free oysters every Friday, from 5:30pm til the oysters run out. Grab a beer and a plate of oysters, and head out to the backyard to sip and slurp under the lemon tree. Now that’s real San Francisco romance.

$1 Oysters 8 February,2009Stephanie Rosenbaum Klassen

  • Hyde Street Seafood House and Raw Bar has $1 oysters during happy hour.

    1509 Hyde St (at Jackson St)

  • A woman after my own heart! What a great post!! I love the happy hour at Hog Island Oysters!! I look forward to trying your other recommendations.

    I am also with you on avoiding restaurants on V-Day. I just blogged about that in my post about an aphrodisiac infused Valentines Day at home here, should you be interested.

    Happy Valentines Day!!

    ~ Paula


Stephanie Rosenbaum Klassen

Stephanie Rosenbaum Klassen is a longtime local food writer, author, and cook. Her books include The Art of Vintage Cocktails (Egg & Dart Press), World of Doughnuts (Egg & Dart Press); Kids in the Kitchen: Fun Food (Williams Sonoma); Honey from Flower to Table (Chronicle Books) and The Astrology Cookbook: A Cosmic Guide to Feasts of Love (Manic D Press). She has studied organic farming at UCSC and holds a certificate in Ecological Horticulture from the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems. She does frequent cooking demonstrations at local farmers’ markets and has taught food writing at Media Alliance in San Francisco and the Continuing Education program at Stanford University. She has been the lead restaurant critic for the San Francisco Bay Guardian as well as for San Francisco magazine. She has been an assistant chef at the Headlands Center for the Arts, an artists’ residency program located in the Marin Headlands, and a production cook at the Marin Sun Farms Cafe in Pt Reyes Station. After some 20 years in San Francisco interspersed with stints in Oakland, Santa Cruz, Brooklyn, and Manhattan, she recently moved to Sonoma county but still writes in San Francisco several days a week.

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