As much as I love living in Las Vegas on its own merits, there are practical considerations that limit my residency to either Las Vegas or coastal areas. You see, having a 7-year-old oyster fanatic may be a novelty in a world of extruded-meat chicken nugget children’s menus, but the Bivalve Fanatic is not a cheap date. The many fantastic oyster happy hours around Las Vegas—possible because of restaurants’ huge shipping volumes—allow me to keep her eating in the style she’s grown accustomed to. To celebrate National Oyster Day, we visited four favorites in four days.
This airy, Hamptons-cool dining room serves $1 oysters during happy hour from 5-7 p.m. in its bar and on the patio (kids can sit at a high-top), and “local love Tuesdays” mean $1 oysters, plus $5 martinis all night. We had a dozen Kumiai oysters, from Baja, California—a good choice for oyster neophytes for their crisp, salty flavor and manageable size.
Essential sides: Pair your bivalves with gently-priced happy hour specials (we had crispy calamari), or anything from the regular menu. The hand-cut Kennebec fries with smoked tomato aioli, and Nueske bacon-wrapped matzo balls are both winners. 1720 Festival Plaza Dr., 702-685-8002
A constantly rotating selection of oysters from six different purveyors (East, West, and Gulf are all represented) means there’s always an incredible selection, and West Coast oysters are $1.50 from 2–6 p.m. Our night’s raw selections: Fanny Bays, Wianno, Miyagi (one of my favorites, a briny oyster from Puget Sound), Honga, and Blue Points. A certain 7-year-old ate five of the six delicious Blue Points broiled with garlic, herbs, butter, and Parmesan.
Essential sides: Returning chef Jean Paul Labadie is working on a new happy hour menu that includes terrific pork belly banh mi sliders that we sampled off the menu (look for them soon). And don’t miss Emeril’s Signature Barbecued Shrimp in a rich Creole sauce, plus a jumbo lump crab cake that was basically all crab, no filler. MGM Grand, 3799 S. Las Vegas Blvd., 702-891-7374
Chef and owner Dan Krohmer deserves his cult following for his incredible blend of Asian and American flavors (one of my favorites: the PBR seafood toban yaki—yes, a hotpot of seafood in Pabst). The chef’s eccentric and cool past—working illegally in Japan, cooking for Iron Chef Morimoto, on the road with T-Swift—comes to life in a tiny strip mall location on Durango with an awesome raw bar. The day we visited, Krohmer’s chalk board included Otter Cove, Snow Creek, Kumamoto, Sweet Petite, Pickering Pass, and Beau Soleil oysters. The $1 oyster happy hour includes the chef’s selections in increments of 6, and you can pick from sauces like wasabi cocktail, rosemary mignonette, ponzu salsa, pickled peppers and habanero, and blood orange and mint.
Essential sides: Order the crispy togarashi waffle fries, or do what we did and order the happy hour special of spicy tuna tartare that comes with waffle fries. My kid vouches for the ceviche of octopus, shrimp, white fish, and habanero (also on the happy hour menu), which she finished before I could try it. 3655 S. Durango Dr., 702-463-8382
I make no secret of my love for DB Brasserie, but his $1 oyster happy hours (5-6 p.m., 7 days a week)—plus “Pre-Bash Brunch” on Saturdays and Sundays—make me love Boulud just a little bit more. Right now, it’s Kumiai oysters from Baja California during oyster hour.
Essential sides: Go for chef Vincent Pouessel’s choice of Alsatian flatbread, whose salty, crispy bacon and crunchy crust either offset the crisp oysters, which have a sweet finish, or add up to something like Oysters Rockefeller if you eat them all at the same time. The Grand Canal Shoppes, 3355 S. Las Vegas Blvd., 702-430-1235
How do you keep pace with a party-packed Vegas lifestyle without burning out? Vegas Editor-in-Chief Andrea Bennett seeks out the healthy indulgences, insider finds, and desert beauty tricks that help you balance Vegas’s unique climate, nightlife culture, and fabulous temptations. (Hint: It’s not all yoga and kombucha here.)