I was never that obsessed with oysters. Those little suckers were just too dang expensive for my wallet, so I never took the chance to appreciate them.

Close quarters at Upstate. Only 28 seats in the entire place. (photo credit: yelp)

Enter the happy hour at Upstate – a craft beer and oyster bar in the East Village. Introduced to me by a co-worker whose friends (a lovely couple) own the place.

They have good seafood and small plates, but every day from 5-7 p.m. Upstate has an amazing happy hour deal – 6 oysters and one craft beer for $12. Now that is a deal my wallet can get behind.

Being able to taste a variety of oysters in a series (a la wine tasting) helped me finally taste the flavor nuances.

Honestly, I don’t recall all the ones I liked – though beau soleil, royal miyagi, and kumamoto are a few that come to mind. Upstate is fantastic about switching out its oysters and beers to keep things interesting. So you should just try a round or two or three and decide for yourself. Happy hour gets packed, so come early.

Worried about freshness? This place doesn’t have a freezer(!), so rest assured that your grub is coming in fresh every day.

Other standouts:

  • The oyster accoutrements. The mignonette (red wine vinegar and minced shallot sauce), horseradish (flavorful without the typical harshness) and cocktail sauce are some of the best I’ve had
  • The ever-rotating taps of craft and local beers
  • The slice of whiskey cake you get at the end of your meal (way better than any fortune cookie at Chinese restaurants)

Also, who the heck gets 4.5 out of 5 stars based on 200+ reviews on Yelp?? Upstate apparently. Nicely done. The people have spoken.

Round 2 of Upstate's oyster offering
Round 2 of Upstate’s oyster offering

Not in the mood for beer? Just down the road is another great oyster happy hour. Prima has 2-for-1 oysters and cocktails also every day from 5-7 p.m. Oysters are $3 full price, and cocktails $12. So a tad more expensive than Upstate, and service/ambiance not as warm, but still a good setup and deal to check out.

The Last Cocktail @ Prima (Spring 44 Gin, Prosecco, Pear Puree, Rosemary Infused Agave, Fresh Lemon, Clove Dust)

Okay. So now, I’m officially obsessed.


Upstate, 95 1st Ave (between 6th and 5th St), www.upstatenyc.com

Prima, 58 East 1st St (between 1st and 2nd Ave, and next door to Prune which serves great eats), www.primanyc.net