Buy bivalves on the cheap at these oyster-centric happy hours.

Shuck and Awe

Written by Shelby Moore Category: Happy Hour Issue: May 2017
Group Free
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Grand Blue
7318 E. Shea Blvd., Scottsdale
480-348-2583, thegrandblue.com
Raw seafood is always in vogue, whether it’s Japanese sashimi or Italian crudo, but shellfish in particular is having a major moment. The Valley-based owners of Pita Jungle must have seen the oyster trend docking when they opened Grand Blue in Scottsdale last fall. Their hook? Quality and affordability. At happy hour, snack on a budget-friendly bucket of mussels swimming in coconut curry broth ($8) with garlic fries ($2) on the side – a bivalve no-brainer – or warm pinxtos, little bruschetta-like bites. You’ll want to reel in the one with creamy white bean hummus and freshly grilled shrimp ($5). Next, sip the sweet liquor of mild $1 Pacific oysters, and wash it down with one of Grand Blue’s happy hour cocktails. Grab a cruise-worthy refresher in the yuzu and lemongrass gin soda ($7), whipped up with yuzu orange purée, lemongrass syrup and grapefruit juice.
M-Th 3-6 p.m.; F-Su 3-5 p.m.
 
Little Cleo’s Seafood Legend
5632 N. Seventh St., Phoenix
602-680-4044, foxrc.com
Did you know briny oysters pair perfectly with the feisty herbal sweetness of absinthe, the high-gravity botanical beverage favored by Toulouse-Lautrec and other fin de siècle French libertines? Little Cleo’s knows. The Uptown restaurant has become synonymous with happy hour due to this legendary pairing. Slurp carefully shucked oysters at $1 a pop and order a half-price pour of a peppery, nearly floral glass of domestic Leopold Bros. Absinthe Verte ($8) or a milder glass of Swiss Duplais Blanche ($8), which is a bit more reserved in its anise and fennel flavors. Cleo’s happy hour also includes shrimp ($1 each), served cocktail-style, surfacing alongside thrifty pours of Champagne ($2). M-Sa 4-6 p.m.
 
Salt Cellar
550 N. Hayden Rd., Scottsdale
480-947-1963, saltcellarrestaurant.com
Forget the “catch of the day.” Catch them all at this legendary SoSco resto, which you’ll almost literally be diving down into, given its subterraOKnean layout and winding staircase entry. The white tablecloths in the dining room are charming, but opt instead for a seat at the dimly lit bar, where the beer is full-price but the seafood deals are plentiful. Net some cold, semi-briny, absolutely massive oysters from Long Island for $2 a pop. Prefer ’em hot and baked with spinach and cheese? The Cellar does them Rockefeller-style as well ($8). Once you’ve got your sea legs, fill up with an order of real-deal, Dutch-style turtle soup ($8) made with Louisiana snapping turtle, accompanied by a nutty shot of sherry for a little more, ahem, bite. Skeptical? Don’t be. It eats like a thick, rich and hearty beef stew. M-Su 4-7 p.m., 10 p.m.-1 a.m.
 

 

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