Oysters have long been rumored to be aphrodisiacs. Kusshis. Kumamotos. Fanny Bays. It could well be that these bivalve mollusks contain certain amino acids that, well, make you horny, baby. Libido drivers or not, I love slurping oysters, especially at Happy Hour prices. Here are my Top 3 spots in downtown San Diego for grabbing a dozen of these silky seafood delights.
Ironside was a new addition in 2014 to Little Italy’s main drag. It’s the third eatery in the immediate neighborhood from the innovative and creative minds behind Consortium Holdings (Craft & Commerce; Underbelly). Ironside is a feast for the eyes as well as the mouth. The décor could be New York City boho, with Broadway theater lights and library ladder behind the bar,myriad antique travel bags collected in various spots and a wall made of plaster molded, open-mouthed barracudas. All oysters are normally $3 each, with discounts for dozens and half-dozens. Steep. But check out Happy Hour prices Monday through Friday from 3-6 p.m., when all the slippery devils are $1 apiece.
Oceanaire has been in the Gaslamp Quarter since 2004, when a younger, soon-to-be-TV-Top-Chef-staple Brian Malarkey opened the place. Malarkey now runs Searsucker, one street over in the Gaslamp, but the crab cake he instituted at Oceanaire remains to this day the most authentic Maryland recipe in the city. The Happy Hour, only in effect at the bar, includes reduced prices for select cocktails (like the James Bond martini), appetizers and $1 oysters on Monday through Friday from 5-6 p.m. Don’t come early or late for Happy Hour. They won’t start shucking at 4:59, and at 6:01 the price deal is over and done.
It became a hit in 2013, and Spike Africa is now frequented for lunch by downtown politicians and for dinner by tourists and locals alike. Spike has great fresh fish entrée specials for lunch, and offers the widest swath of Happy Hours, which includes $1 oysters (with a minimum order of six). The special prices are in effect restaurant-wide every day from 3:30-6:30 p.m., and Monday through Thursday from 9-10 p.m. (only at the bar).