Oyster fanatics, rejoice: you can fulfill your fresh-Kumamoto cravings on a canned-tuna budget, thanks to a slough of restaurants in the city that offer an early-evening happy hour of one-dollar oysters. Show up early because the suckers go fast. And if you can’t do shooters without a chaser, keep in mind that most places offer house wines, well cocktails, and domestic beers at happy-hour discounts, so you can also catch a buzz without breaking the bank.
The Marina’s Cafe Maritime (2417 Lombard, SF; 415-885-2530, www.cafemaritimesf.com) gets an honorable mention for serving up a dozen oysters for $13. Mon.Fri., 5:30-7 p.m.
The cozy lounge atmosphere of Circolo (500 Florida, SF; 415-553-8560, www.circolosf.com) features a cascading waterfall, and the restaurant transforms into a club after 11 p.m. Bamboo walls and low lighting offer the right ambience for an evening of aphrodisiacs. Tues.-Fri., 5-7 p.m.
Do not think that the bar at Bacar (448 Brannan, SF; 415-904-4100, www.bacarsf.com) is awash in bright lights and starchy white linens like the main dining area is. The candlelit front area offers a casual environment where you can feast on dollar half-shells and slingback martinis. Fri., 4:306 p.m.
The Pier 33 Asian-fusion restaurant Butterfly (Embarcadero and Bay, SF; 415-864-8999, www.butterflysf.com) can nurse that hangover with dollar oyster shooters, sans the vodka. But with a happy-hour menu of $3 bottle beers, $5 selected appetizers, and such $5 libations as the Cherry Blossom and the Sake Sangria, you can shoot your shuck and sip your way to nirvana. Mon.-Fri., 4-7 p.m.
Minutes from the Golden Gate Bridge, Eastside West Restaurant & Raw Bar (3154 Fillmore, SF; 415-885-4000, eastsidewest.ypguides.net) is well known for its 30-something bar scene, American seafood cuisine, and outside patio. Mon.-Fri., 5-7 p.m.
The quaint wine-bar experience at EOS (901 Cole, SF; 415-566-3063, www.eossf.com) with sake and wine specials, sexy low lighting, and rotating art exhibits offers the Cole Valley locals a prime date spot, casual elegance, and floor-to-ceiling windows for optimal people watching. Sun., 4:30-7 p.m.; Mon.Thurs., 5:307 p.m.
Tourists and business crowds alike favor the famous Hog Island Oyster Company (1 Ferry Plaza, SF; 415-391-7117, www.hogislandoysters.com), situated in the backside of the Ferry Building. Its shucksters offer dollar Pacific oysters from the restaurant’s own sustainable aqua farm, a view of the bay, and the option to buy unshucked oysters to go. On a sunny day, grab a spot outside on the heated waterfront deck. Mon.-Thurs., 5-7 p.m.
Step inside the Hyde Street Seafood House and Raw Bar (1509 Hyde, SF; 415-931-3474. hydeseafoodhouserawbar.prodigybiz.com), tucked into a quiet Nob Hill neighborhood, and the white tablecloths, captain’s wheel, marine life decor, and fresh-cut flowers will have you feeling as though you’re in a waterfront restaurant on the wharf even if your wallet doesn’t. Nightly, 5-7 p.m.
Central and casual, O’Reilly’s Holy Grail (1233 Polk, SF; 415-928-1233, www.oreillysholygrail.com) makes rustic European fare a Civic Center treat. Long velvet curtains and a welcoming bar give a reason to stay for the live music long after you’ve thrown back a few on the half-shells or a pint. Nightly, 4:30-7 p.m.
The Castro’s candlelit Mecca (2029 Market, SF; 415-621-7000, www.sfmecca.com) sets the mood for your belle or beau while you cozy up to the oval bar for a slurp of a Beau Soleil or Marin Miyagi. Some nights offer a resident DJ, and Thursdays are ladies’ nights. Tues.-Sat., 5-7 p.m.
Yabbies Coastal Kitchen (2237 Polk, SF; 415-474-4088, www.yabbiesrestaurant.com) in Russian Hill has both a wine and raw bar, casual elegance, and minimal wait time. The crowd is full of urban folk, from families to date-night couples. Sun.-Wed., 6-7 p.m.