Oysters in the Southland
Columbia’s Guide to Oysters
By Kristin Scott
It wouldn’t be winter in the south without oysters everywhere you go. These local restaurants will be serving up oysters this season and some restaurants serve them year-round.
The Oyster Bar
Oyster Bar has been a staple in the Vista since 2001 with its signature cocktail sauce created by Mother Shucker Mary Sparrow herself. The atmosphere, menu and shuckers make this raw bar the place to visit while in the Vista. Most oysters come from the Gulf and are fresh year round. Oysters are served steamed or raw, and can be accompanied by crab legs, shrimp, low country boil and other seafood staples that are sure to leave you satisfied. If you are into oysters and cocktails, combine the two with the popular oyster shooters, or you can enjoy a beverage from the expansive drink list from the bar.
OysterBarColumbia.com | 803.799.4484
Twisted Spur is next on our list with a wide variety of oysters from all over the world. Some Twisted Spur favorites include pink moon and raspberry points from PEI, Canada. There you can also find oysters from Texas, Chesapeake Bay, Virginia, Nova Scotia and other locations. There have been over 100 varieties over the three-year span the restaurant has been in business. The oysters are typically served raw or steamed, but you can also occasionally find oysters Rockefeller on the menu. New batches are ordered twice weekly and the order is always changing so be sure to visit the restaurant to find out what is on the menu this week.
TwistedSpurBrewing.com | 803.764.0203
Hampton Street Vineyard
It would not be fine dining in Columbia without oysters. Veterans to the local oyster scene, Hampton Street Vineyard has been serving oysters year round for 25 years. The source varies depending on the season, rotating between the Gulf or east coast. The oysters recently came from Huggins Farms in Virginia, flash fried and served with a Cajun Remoulade sauce. Hampton Street Vineyard is the place to go if you are looking for a variety in the oyster preparation and you want something besides steamed or raw. You can also pair your oyster dish with a glass or bottle from the award-winning extensive wine list.
HamptonStreetVineyard.com | 803.252.0850
What started as a sandwich shop in the 1980s has grown into a local fine dining, yet casual, staple in Columbia featuring seafood as one of its many dishes. Have a memorable experience in Columbia at Mr. Friendly’s in the historic Five Points district. Mr. Friendly’s serves a variety of southern-inspired, mouth-watering dishes including the famous flash-fried Gulf oysters served with cocktail sauce at both lunch and dinner service. Enjoy the ambience of the restaurant or of the tucked-away patio when the weather permits, while you have a unique cocktail and enjoy your meal, starting with the oysters.
MrFriendlys.com | 803.254.7828
If you are looking for a raw or roasted oyster with a little flare and atmosphere, look no further than Colas. Its oyster program started two years ago and features local oysters as well as oysters from Cape Cod. The Cape Cod oysters are a favorite because of their high salinity and ocean taste. Local oysters come from the low country, and a favorite are the Toogoodoozies oysters from the Charleston area. The regulars favor these oysters because of their clean operation and the taste. Call today to make a reservation for your next shucky evening.
ColasRestaurant.com | 803.451.0051
1801 Grille brings a unique oyster experience to Columbia. Head Chef Jason Bruner is a Louisiana native with a passion for seafood. He takes pride in sourcing his oysters from the Gulf and sharing the buttery taste only Gulf oysters can provide. When he’s not ordering oysters from the Gulf, he looks to the east coast and gets oysters from North Carolina for a delicious salty taste. The menu changes quarterly, but regulars often ask for the po-boy even when it’s not featured on the menu due to its authenticity. The po-boy features bread made in Louisiana and a special breading. If you enjoy oysters, makes sure 1801 Grille is on your list of restaurants.
1801Grille.com | 803.777.1801
Pearlz Oyster Bar
If you are looking for a fun environment for a night out with friends or a date, put Pearlz Oyster Bar on your list. The restaurant specializes in serving fresh and sustainable seafood. The oyster menu rotates year round, including a variety of oysters. You can find raw, steamed, fried and chargrilled as just a few ways the oysters are prepared. Live music is also offered at Upstairz Pearlz Thursday through Saturday, so be sure to head upstairs for a cocktail and even a dance after having some of the best oysters in Columbia.
PearlzOysterBar.com | 803.661.7741
At Saluda’s you can get oysters two different ways. They even come with a gorgeous patio with a view of the fountain in Five Points. Imagine eating raw oysters from Canada or the Northeastern United States while overlooking lit trees and flowing water. Owner Steven Cook’s favorite oysters served are Malpeque and Beausoleil, which are cold-water oysters. They are delicate and pair well with champagne and white wines. If cold water oysters are not your favorite, Saluda’s also serves Apalachicola oysters from the Gulf coast as a fried buffalo oyster dish created by Chef Josh Rogerson a few years ago. It has been such a hit it is now a permanent fixture on the menu.
Saludas.com | 803.799.9500
Terra rotates its oyster selection a few times a week, so it is the restaurant to choose for a wide variety overall. Terra kicks off oyster season with a northeastern selection leading the taste in oysters. As the waters get colder the oysters come from further down the east coast. In the last few years Terra has been delighted even use oysters from South Carolina. Favorites are Sea Clouds from Barrier Island Oyster Co., Toogoodoo, and Caper's Blades from Clammer Dave who has a unique farming technique. This is just the tip of the shell in the Terra oyster selection, so stop by and try the latest selection.
Blue Marlin, a Low Country inspired restaurant, is one of the most well-known seafood restaurants in the Columbia area. With the main focus being all things seafood, there’s no question that fried Gulf oysters would be on the menu. This dish is made up of a half pound of Apalachicola oysters fried to perfection with seasoned fries, tortilla slaw and tartar sauce. You can even pair it up with a Seared Scallops over sautéed spinach, roasted tomatoes, beurre blanc, and an asiago crisp. Make your reservation tonight for next seafood dish.
BlueMarlinColumbia.com | 803.799.3838
Inspired by the original Goatfeathers in Five Points, Goats is a wine and cocktail bar with a delicious menu, including a buffalo fried oyster appetizer perfect for someone getting started with trying shellfish. The dish comes with three fried oysters with blue cheese, tossed in hot sauce with a blue cheese drizzle. You can also get an oyster po-boy sandwich served with fried oysters with a Cajun remoulade and a side of pickled carrots, fennel, fried onion and fries. Stop by today for your oyster fix and a custom cocktail.
Goats2.com | 803.708.4496
Motor Supply has been calling The Vista home since 1989 and will be there for years to come with diverse, chef-driven, southern dishes that change nightly. Since the dishes change nightly, so could the oyster selection. One you can find on the menu is a North Carolina oyster salad served with grilled romaine, raddichio, grape tomato, pickled onion, a cornbread crumble and a pecorino-buttermilk dressing. Check the menu every day to find the oyster dish you are looking for and make your reservation so you can enjoy this southern, fine-dining staple in the heart of The Vista.
MotorSupplyCoBistro.com | 803.256.6687
If you want to venture outside downtown Columbia, or live or work in the North East, be sure to stop at Solstice Kitchen for lunch or dinner. Owned by the same family as Mr. Friendly’s, this restaurant boasts a relaxing yet elegant atmosphere, as well as a romantic patio perfect for outdoor dining when the weather permits. While you are there, be sure to try the fried Gulf oysters served with a classic cocktail sauce and a pickled tartar sauce and know that you are dining at a restaurant that supports our local business with a farm-to-table kitchen.
SolsticeKitchen.com | 803.788.6966