GREENWICH VILLAGE — You never need to pay full price for oysters in New York City.
Dozens of bars across the five boroughs offer daily happy hour specials, bumping down the price of the bivalves to just $1 apiece.
Customers are drawn to the briny snacks' affordability, while chefs say they are happy to serve such a simple, crowd-pleasing dish that requires little preparation.
"It's something you can serve raw, fresh... without trying to make it something else," said Carmine Di Giovanni, the chef at Greenwich Project, a restaurant on Eighth Street in the Village, which offers $1 oysters from 5 to 7 p.m. Monday to Friday. "It's the simplicity of it."
"Our neighborhood loves it," he said of the $1 oyster happy special that is offered seven days a week. "We wanted to bring something to our community that people would appreciate and also really enjoy. The oyster happy hour is a huge perk for our customers, and we want them to feel as supported as they have made us feel the last two years."
Many restaurants source their oysters locally, from Montauk, Block Island and the Long Island Sound.
Di Giovanni has developed a relationship with the farm in Montauk that produces his favorite Blue Points, called Widow's Hole.
"The water around his property is phenomenal," Di Giovanni said. "It gives the oysters this bright, oceanic flavor that I haven't found elsewhere."
While many people believe you're only supposed to eat oysters in months that have the letter R in them — during the fall and winter — Di Giovanni said that's not based on a health concern but rather on the flavor of the mollusks, which varies depending on the kind of water they grow in. Cold water produces crisper, more briny oysters, but "milky" summertime oysters are edible too, he said.
The Greenwich Project serves its oysters with mignonette sauce, as well as a smoky homemade chipotle-based hot sauce, but the chef prefers to let the fresh shellfish stand on its own.
"A little squeeze of lemon and call it a day," Di Giovanni said.
Check out the map above for more than three-dozen spots where you can eat three-dozen oysters (or more) without breaking the bank. Below are some highlights by borough.
Did we miss your favorite oyster happy hour? Let us know in the comments.
Upper West Side: 486 Amsterdam Ave. East Village: 96 Second Ave. Greenwich Village: 79 MacDougal St.
All three Mermaid Inn locations offer $1 oysters Monday through Friday from 5 to 7 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 4 to 7 p.m. The oysters are paired with a drink special: All draft beers are $5, wine is $6 and cocktails are $7.
The Mermaid Inn offers an extra-special deal for those who are downtown: The happy hour extends all night on Mondays at the East Village and Greenwich Village locations, but not on the Upper West Side.
1196 Broadway, Flatiron District
Part of the Ace Hotel, this swank bar offers a happy hour special from 5 to 7 p.m. during the week, and noon to 3 p.m. on weekends. Oysters and clams are $2 each if you order at least six, and there are $5 oyster shooters. Oyster stout beer, sparkling wine and sherry on tap are half off.
Grand Central Terminal, lower level
A classic, old-school joint, the Grand Central Oyster Bar is often raucous with commuter chatter. From 4:30 to 7 p.m. Monday through Wednesday and from 1 to 5 p.m. on Saturdays, a happy hour menu is offered in the lounge and "saloon" area of the sprawling eatery. Oysters are $1.25, littleneck clams are $1, cups of New England or Manhattan clam chowder are $3.25 and a whole slew of appetizers are available for $8 apiece.
There is also a bloody mary oyster shooter for $5, special wines for $6 or $7, select beers for $4 or $5, and martinis made with Tito’s vodka for $8 or with Greenhook gin $9.
63-88 Woodhaven Blvd., 718-894-8084, Rego Park
London Lennie's in Rego Park is not to be missed: Locals say the raw bar is among the best in the city. What started more than 50 years ago as a family-run fish-and-chips shop is now one of the most renowned seafood restaurants in Queens. And from 4 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, customers can get the delectable oysters for just $1.
28-08 34th St., 718-721-2113, Astoria
This raw bar and grill has twice-a-day happy hours Monday through Thursday, from 4 to 7 p.m. and again from 9:30 p.m. until the bar closes at 11 p.m. Off the Hook offers $1 Blue Point oysters and littleneck clams, plus $2 off the steamed mussels. Select beers, wines and well drinks are all just $4. The same deal applies from noon to 7 p.m. on Fridays.
254 Fifth Ave., Park Slope
This Brooklyn oyster bar and restaurant is a franchise of the Grand Central Terminal spot with the same name, and it was founded by two of the Midtown location's former employees.
At the Brooklyn bar, one special oyster is offered for just $1 to $1.50 every day for lunch or brunch from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. The oysters are typically from local purveyors on Long Island.
From 4 to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, oysters are $1, and there are specials on beer and wine. The bar also offers a "7 at 7" special, when appetizers are $7 apiece until 7 p.m.
A late-night happy hour on Fridays and Saturdays from 10 to 11 p.m. offers the same deal, with beer and wine for $5.
“We’re pretty damn happy,” manager Michael Slimmer said of the frequent happy hours.
The restaurant is closed on Mondays.
305 Smith St., (718) 643-3293, Carroll Gardens
Kittery's happy hour is from 5 to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 4 to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. It reprises nightly after 10 p.m., at the bar only, except on Sundays when it starts an hour earlier, at 9 p.m.
During happy hour, Kittery offers a rotating selection of $1 and $1.50 oysters, as well as a few other food specials. The oyster selection lately has included Misty Points, Blue Yonders, Malpeques and Wellfleets. Guests dining at the bar have an assortment of drink specials to choose from, generally $4 draft beers and selected wines and cocktails for $5.
369 Cleveland Ave., Great Kills
Cole's offers $1 oysters, as well as clams for just 50 cents apiece. The happy hour runs from 3 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and the waterfront location can't be beat.
240 Page Ave., Tottenville
This Italian restaurant offers the same deal as Cole's: $1 oysters and 50-cent clams from 3 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.
112 Lincoln Ave., 718-684-2338, Mott Haven
It's not quite a happy hour, but it's a pretty spectacular deal: Charlie's offers oysters for $1.50 all night long. The South Bronx hot spot also has a two-for-one happy hour deal on drinks from 4 to 8 p.m. daily.
800 Food Center Drive, 718-378-2356, Hunts Point
If you're particularly brave and enterprising, or just like a project, the most economical oyster option is to buy them in bulk and shuck them yourself.
The New Fulton Fish Market in Hunts Point is only available for retail buyers on specific days and closes in inclement weather, so be sure to check before making the trip. (The website suggests calling 718-378-8020.)
There's a $2 entrance fee, and parking is available for $7. It's only open at night, from 1 a.m. to 9 a.m., and the market suggests arriving before 5 a.m.
With 30 different companies selling all kinds of seafood and shellfish, the types of oysters available and their market prices vary, but you can sometimes do better than the $1 apiece happy hour deals. On a recent trip, 100 Beau Soleil oysters could be purchased for about $60, and 60 Kumamoto oysters, which come from the West Coast, ran about $75.
To shuck your own oysters, you'll need special knives, available in home goods stores or on Amazon for less than $10, as well as oyster gloves, which are about $5.
If you're nervous about poisoning yourself or your party guests, you can check shellfish harvest alerts online. New York State's alert website is here.