Although we’re still a little ways away from the coveted “R” months (aka the months between September and April) when oyster season goes into full swing, there’s no shortage of ways to add a little fun-on-the-half shell to your weekly happy hours. From Mount Pleasant to James Island, here are the best spots for an oyster happy hour in the Holy City.
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Mount Pleasant Those who don’t live in Mount Pleasant might balk at the idea of having to drive all the way out to Highway 41 for happy hour, but trust us when we say that it’s worth it. East Coast oysters are just $1 apiece, and you can pair that with $1 glasses of champagne from 4-6pm from Monday through Saturday, or $4 well liquors, $5 hot sake, $5 draft pints, and $5 oyster shooters until 7pm. And if oysters aren’t your shellfish of choice, a hearty bowl of the red curry mussels (with coconut milk, boiled peanuts, and Thai basil) are just $7. Be sure to stop by on Mondays where a fried oyster taco will only set you back $5 and pours of tequila or mezcal range from $6-$13.
Mount Pleasant The lively, French-inspired seafood restaurant, helmed by Chef Nico Romo, has been going strong since its fall 2017 opening. Happy hour -- available Monday through Friday from 4-7 pm -- offers your standard $1.50 James River oysters, in addition to a deliciously decadent half-dozen baked oysters with Camembert sauce for $12. On Mondays, oysters are 50% off by the dozen, which is a steal for those who are particular about their varieties. This summer, partake in the “rosé your way” special, which gives diners a choice between a glass for $5, a bottle for $20, or a magnum for $39. Other deals on the happy hour menu include a $6 cheese puff, $4 well liquor, and $5 craft beer. So get your butt to Nico s'il vous plaît.
King Street Historic District No matter the time of day -- brunch, late night, or dinner -- Prohibition is always a solid choice. This Jazz Age-themed bar does a really stellar job on everything from food to cocktails, plus the music selection is always on point. And happy hour is certainly no exception. Enjoy oysters on the half shell for just $1 apiece, which are accompanied by pickleback mignonette and housemade hot sauce. If you don’t do raw oysters, enjoy a $5 fried oyster roll (with jalapeño remoulade and housemade pickles). Aperol spritzes, Moscow Mules, Negronis, and Pimms Cup cocktails are all just $5 during happy hour, so feel free to settle in and let the magic of this rustic speakeasy settle into your bones.
Mount Pleasant The Shellmore opened in the Stepford-esque I’On neighborhood of Mount Pleasant about two years ago and has been holding steady with a solid selection of food and drink in a cozy atmosphere ever since. The menu changes daily, but the happy hour remains solid from 4-7pm Tuesday through Friday evenings. Diners can enjoy $1.50 selects (50% off the normal price) paired with a $5 glass of house wine. If you’re particular about your oysters, be sure to follow them on Instagram to get a preview of that night’s selections ahead of time.
Cannonborough Rather than focus on a general happy hour, Chubby Fish decided to give the people exactly what they want with an “oyster hour” Tuesday through Saturday from 5-6pm, where fans of the quintessential Charleston bivalve can indulge for just $1 a slurp. Although the selections vary by day, the bar often has a few different varieties to choose from. To pair, Chubby Fish also offers one rotating beer and white wine, which means that every visit to oyster hour can feel like the first time.
French Quarter Last year, Charleston staple Blossom added a breathtaking oyster bar overlooking East Bay Street. The people-watching is great, and the oysters are even better. Typically, you can get $2 selects, but happy hour Monday through Friday from 4-7pm at the 12-seat oyster bar gets you $1.25 James River singles or a $5 oyster shooter. If you don’t want to shoot ‘em, pair your singles with a $5 glass of sangria, peach Bellini, or house red or white wine. And don’t worry if you hang out at the oyster bar until dinner, since you can order off the full menu there as well.
French Quarter and Avondale The self-proclaimed “eclectic little oyster bar” has two locations in Charleston, and both feature a pretty hearty list of happy hour specials for that glorious period during the work week between 4-7pm. Try the Southern fried oysters for $8, oyster shooters for $4, and -- the pièce de résistance -- a dozen oysters on the half shell for $14. Both restaurants always seem to be packed, so get there early if you want a seat at the raw bar.
Market Street Although many locals were sad when Market Street staple A.W. Shucks closed after nearly 40 years, the more upscale concept seems to be doing well with locals and tourists alike. O-Bar, the raw bar on State Street, features a diverse happy hour menu (available Monday through Friday from 4-7pm and Saturday and Sunday from 4-6pm) with a number of oyster favorites. There are James River oysters for just $1 each or a pair of oyster sliders for $6. Pair that with a $5 Moscow Mule or local draft to really put the “happy” in your hour.
John Street With a name like “Coast,” you can rest assured that the seafood you’re getting is up to snuff. The chefs meet with local fishermen and farmers on a daily basis to ensure they’re bringing you the most quality ingredients. Stroll down Huston Alley to the front door of the ivy-covered brick building and sit yourself in the bar area Monday through Thursday from 5-7pm to take advantage of a half-dozen oysters (raw, steamed, or fried) for $6.99 or jalapeño-bacon-wrapped shrimp for $4.99. There’s $4.99 drink specials, too, so don’t forget to stay hydrated during your evening at the Coast.
John Street A little further into Hutson Alley at Cuban-inspired Victor Social Club, you’ll find a cozy bar filled with leather couches, Guy Harvey-esque fish paintings, and the highest ceilings of any bar in Charleston. The happy hour specials change weekly, but you’re always likely to find at least one oyster dish on the menu, like an oyster and shrimp seafood boil for $16 or the whole shebang (oysters, shrimp, scallops, and snow crab) for $24. Keep it a little lighter with East Coast oyster singles for $3 a pop. Wash it all down with a $12 cocktail, discounted domestic beer, or a glass of wine -- and relish in that post-oyster glow.
Broad Street Not many people think to visit a steakhouse for oysters, but Oak should definitely be added to your list of oyster hotspots. Enjoy fantastic deviled eggs with fried oysters for just $12 at the bar from 5-7 pm Monday through Friday. Drink specials are some of the best you can find (especially for Broad Street) with $3 domestic beers and $4 house liquor. Missed happy hour? No problem because, in the dining area, you can get Oysters Rockefeller for just $3.25 each, a great deal regardless of the time of day.
Cannonborough On weekdays from 4-8pm, stop by for the “hours of happiness” to try an order of Warehouse’s life-changing fried-oyster deviled eggs with kimchi relish and sesame for just $7. Pair it with a $5 pint or house spirit or $6 punch jars and house wine. Additional daily specials, like half-off tequila and mezcal on Tuesdays or half-off bottles of wine on Wednesdays, will add a little pep to your step. Plus, you can play a game of pool to help you truly unwind from a hard day.
James Island Every hour is happy hour at Bowens Island where you can get all-you-can-eat steamed oysters, any time for market price. Or a platter of the freshest, tastiest fried Carolina oysters, along with french fries, hushpuppies, and coleslaw for just $19.50. This Charleston institution is off the beaten path right on the edge of James Island, down a dirt road that you’re likely to miss if you blink. Be sure to visit right at sunset, as its marshfront location offers some of the best views in Charleston.
Ansonborough The cozy unassuming brick building on East Bay street doesn’t look like much, but inside, you’ll find some of the freshest seafood in all of the Holy City. The sister restaurant of a Nantucket favorite, 167 Raw features seafood fare that’s much more common up north -- dishes like lobster rolls, clam chowder, and tuna burgers. If you’re lucky enough to score a table after work, you can enjoy $2.75 oysters from their vast daily selection.
French Quarter Just a few steps from Market Street and Waterfront Park, you’ll find Amen Street Fish & Raw Bar. The raw bar menu changes daily, but it has been known to offer up to 20 different oysters at a time. A regular dozen of house oysters at Amen Street will cost you about $19, but at happy hour (4 - 7 pm during the week), they’ll only set your wallet back $9.95. You can also try Amen’s award-winning oyster shooter made with house- infused lemon & pepper vodka, bloody mary mix, hot sauce and fresh shucked oyster for just $3.50.
King Street Historic District Owner and James Beard award-winning Chef Mike Lata does amazing things with seafood in his kitchen, which is housed in a building that was once a bank. The menu is full of inventive and fresh seafood options, and happy hour at The Ordinary is anything but: nosh on oysters for just $1.50 every Tuesday - Friday from 5 - 6:30 pm. This restaurant is also one of the only places in the city where you can get a shellfish tower.
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Sydney Gallimore is a proud owner of a monogrammed oyster glove. Follow her shucking adventures on Instagram @QueenoftheFoodAge