10 of the best restaurants in Denver to enjoy oysters

Denver has long been known for serving one of the most interesting “oysters” in the country (aka the Rocky Mountain variety). But in 2022, this landlocked city is a hotbed of restaurants offering expertly shocked fresh shellfish flown in daily from both coasts. Despite rumors that you should only eat oysters during certain cool-weather months, Ben Wolven, owner-operator of Denver-based pop-up Oyster Wulff, says most of the oysters you’ll find in Denver are farm-raised. This means that their growing and spawning conditions are controlled and, good news, they are always in season. Here, 10 of our favorite places to sip the brine bits.

AT 5

Oysters at A5. Photo courtesy of A5

Denver’s hottest new steakhouse, A5, not only offers salivate-worthy tri-tips, but also offers some of the freshest oysters in town. The Culinary Creative Group concept, which opened last November, stocks bivalves frequently, sometimes daily during busy weeks. Kevin Burke, the group’s hospitality manager, explains that the oysters are harvested to order and arrive less than 24 hours later at the restaurant. As the varieties rotate daily, he recommends Maine Oyster Company’s catch of the day. The bivalves are grown on a family farm near Portland and offer brackish depth and flavor intensity due to the cold ocean temperatures and long growing season in the region. At $5 a pop (or $49 for 12), you’ll pay a premium, but those looking for a deal can stop by for the daily happy hour (3:30-5:30 p.m.) for $1.50. 1600 15th Street.

Angelo’s Tavern

Angelo’s Taverna is a locals’ favorite oyster paradise, thanks in part to its generous happy hour, which offers $1 raw and $2 grilled oysters daily from 3-6 p.m. and 9 p.m.-close. At the six-year-old Littleton location, arrive early to beat the queues and compete for a spot on the expansive, grass-laden patio. Those looking for something different from a standard platter of raw slurpers should venture to the charcoal-grilled varieties, which are drizzled with sauces like spicy sweet chipotle bourbon butter or toppings like bacon and gorgonzola. with homemade pesto. Ask for the grilled dish of the day for the latest creation from the kitchen. 620 E. 6th Ave., 6885 S. Santa Fe Dr., Ste. A

Anette

Annette's oysters are $1 off on Tuesdays.  Photo by Riane Menardi Morrison
Annette’s oysters are $1 off on Tuesdays. Photo by Riane Menardi Morrison

At Aurora, Darling Annette, Chef-Owner Caroline Glover sources a variety of both East Coast and West Coast oysters – currently Island Creek oysters from Massachusetts and Hama Hamas from Washington – from small distributors who work directly with family oyster farms. The restaurant gets shipments of oysters two to three times a week, and Glover says she always strives to have a variety for the “entry-level” palate — something clean and without overwhelming brine — and something with a deep ocean flavor for the more seasoned connoisseur. Whatever your pleasure, drizzle with Glover’s homemade mignonette, made with small-batch raw vinegars made from unconventional ingredients like kombu and celery. Visit on Tuesdays when happy hour lasts all night and oysters are $1 off. 2501 Dallas St., Ste. 108, Aurora

apple blossom

Six-month-old Apple Blossom, located in downtown Hyatt Centric, is the latest seasonal venture from restaurateur siblings Paul and Aileen Reilly. Here, the duo serve up the freshest dishes from across the United States, including a stellar array of East Coast oysters, which are brought in several times a week. The oysters are shucked and served as little as possible – to “let the ocean and the work of nature shine,” says Paul. He and head chef Russ Fox prefer the brackish flavor of Atlantic bivalves, so they source exclusively from farms in states like Connecticut, Delaware and Maryland. Currently, guests can enjoy half a dozen balls for $22; we advise you to add a drop of reseda to the homemade green strawberries, a tangy accompaniment that makes the brine shine. 822 18th street.

The Blue Island Oyster Bar is one of the few restaurants in town to have its own shellfish.  Photo by Riane Menardi Morrison
The Blue Island Oyster Bar is one of the few restaurants in town to have its own shellfish. Photo by Riane Menardi Morrison

Blue Island Oyster Bar

Blue Island Oyster Bar has been a seafood staple in Cherry Creek since 2015, and last January the popular haunt opened an outpost in Lone Tree. Chef-owner Sean Huggard and his New York partner Chris Quartuccio (owner of Blue Island Oyster Farm, which grows shellfish for the restaurant) fly in 10 varieties of oysters a day, delighting customers with signature Blue Island No. 9, which have a medium brine and cucumber notes. Enjoy $2.50 pods during daily happy hour (2-6 p.m.) and $1 oysters all day Monday. 2625 E. 2nd Ave., 10008 Commons St., Ste. 100 lonely tree

Ro-Ro

Cart-Driver serves oysters alongside wood-fired pizzas.  Photo by Riane Menardi Morrison
Cart-Driver serves oysters alongside wood-fired pizzas. Photo by Riane Menardi Morrison

For eight-year-old Andy Niemeyer, owner of Cart-Driver, cold oysters and piping hot pizza are a delicious pairing, and Denver locals looking for both bites can munch on wood-fired slices and gulp down molluscs at RiNo or LoHi locations. The restaurants each offer three to four East Coast and West Coast varieties, which are purchased directly from family farms three times a week. Favorites include Hama Hamas Melon from Washington State and Island Creeks Butter from Massachusetts. Visit for daily happy hour, when oysters are $1 off with $7 bubbles on tap. 2239 W. 30th Ave., 2500 Larimer St., Ste. 100

Do not forget me

Ben Wolven of Oyster Wulff shucks oysters on the terrace of Forget Me Not.  Photo by Riane Menardi Morrison
Ben Wolven of Oyster Wulff shucks oysters on the terrace of Forget Me Not. Photo by Riane Menardi Morrison

Thursday through Saturday, Oyster Wulff’s Wolven shucks oysters from a cooler on the patio of Forget Me Not, Cherry Creek’s chic cocktail bar. Wolven, who grew up in Maine picking ocean dwellers fresh from the water, maintains relationships with family farms back home and flies oysters to the Centennial State several times a week. Wolven prefers high-salinity oysters — which helps carry tertiary notes like reed and moss, he says — and has honed his palate and his craft by traveling the country to attend oyster festivals and learn the regional chipping techniques. So while at $5 a pop, the oysters he brings in are some of the most expensive in Denver, in the hands of this expert, they’re worth it. 227 Clayton Street.

Jax Fish House and Oyster Bar

Head to Jax's LoDo location for oysters at happy hour every day.  Photo by Riane Menardi Morrison
Head to Jax’s LoDo location for oysters at happy hour every day. Photo by Riane Menardi Morrison

If you arrive before Jax, 26,’s LoDo store opens at 3:30 p.m., expect to line up with other seafood lovers who gather for the daily happy hour, when the oysters house only cost $2. Developed in collaboration with Virginia-based Rappahannock River Oysters, the signature Emersums are smooth, clean and vegetal, perfect for introducing a shy friend to oysters or to accompany a glass of Brut (just $8 during happy hour). More adventurous eaters should sip the other eight to 10 varieties over ice, like slow-growing West Coast favorites, Kumamotos, which are honey-sweetened with a mild brine. However, the well of tempting options never ends, and Sheila Lucero, the restaurant’s culinary director, says the team can shuck up to 6,000 oysters in a day and up to 15,000 for large events such as than the opening weekend of the Rockies. 1539 17th street.

Water grill

The Water Grill's raw bar is a cozy place to sip shellfish.  Photo by Riane Menardi Morrison
The Water Grill’s raw bar is a cozy place to sip shellfish. Photo by Riane Menardi Morrison

The two-month-old Water Grill has wowed Denver locals with some of the freshest seafood brought in daily by King’s Seafood, its exclusive distribution company, and that feat is particularly evident in the raw bar menu. . Walk through the sprawling formal dining room to the more casual bar, where you’ll find experts shucking seashells right on the bar. Choose from up to 18 different varieties each day, including specialties like creamy, slightly brackish Wellfleets, and lesser-known options like earthy Taber Points and mineral-rich Blue Pools. Sip them raw or add a kick with fresh habanero-lime relish from Water Grill. 1691 Market Street

Stoic and authentic

Stoic & Genuine is a Union Station staple for all things seafood. Photo by Riane Menardi Morrison
Stoic & Genuine is a Union Station staple for all things seafood. Photo by Riane Menardi Morrison

This Union Station stronghold of chef Jennifer Jasinski and her partner Beth Gruitch brings together fresh oysters from both coasts daily, which are currently drawing crowds like the briny, mineral Moondancers from Maine and the meaty, fresh cucumber-flavoured Oishis from North Puget. Sound, Washington. Visit the airy, bright bistro for “Oyster Hour,” 2-5 p.m., Monday-Friday, for two dollars of Chef’s Choice East or West Coast Oysters, plus bubbles, wine and $7 cocktails. Be sure to visit in September for Stoic & Genuine’s annual OysterFest, when shellfish take over the menu in all its forms, from oyster pâté to po’ boys. 1701 Wynkoop Street


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Sandy A. Greer