Denver has long been known for serving one of the country’s most interesting “oysters” (aka the Rocky Mountain variety). But in 2022, this land-locked cowtown is a hotbed of restaurants offering expertly shocked fresh mollusks flown in daily from both coasts. Despite the rumors that you should only eat oysters in certain cool-weather months, Ben Wolven, the owner-operator of the Denver-based pop-up Oyster Wulff, says that most oysters you’ll find in Denver are farmed. That means their growing and spawning conditions are controlled and—great news—they’re always in season. Here, 10 of our favorite places to slurp down the briny morsels.
Denver’s hippest new steakhouse, A5, not only dishes out drool-worthy tri-tips, but also slings some of the freshest oysters in town. The Culinary Creative Group concept, which opened this past November, sources bivalves frequently—sometimes daily during busy weeks. Kevin Burke, director of hospitality for the group, says the oysters are harvested to order and arrive less than 24 hours later at the restaurant. While the varieties rotate daily, he recommends the catch of the day from Maine Oyster Company. The bivalves are grown on a family farm near Portland and deliver a depth and intensity of briny flavor due to the cold ocean temperatures and long growing season in the area. At $5 a pop (or $49 for 12), you’ll pay a premium, but those seeking a deal can stop by for the daily happy hour (3:30–5:30 p.m.) for $1.50 shucks. 1600 15th St.
Angelo’s Taverna is a local’s favorite oyster haven due in part to its generous happy hour, which features $1 raw and $2 grilled oysters daily from 3–6 p.m. and 9 p.m. to close. At the six-year-old Littleton location, arrive early to beat the lines and vie for a spot on the expansive, grass-laden patio. Those looking for something different from a standard tray of raw slurpers should venture toward the chargrilled varieties, which come doused with sauces like the spicy-sweet chipotle bourbon butter or toppings such as bacon and gorgonzola with house pesto. Ask for the chargrilled special of the day for the kitchen’s latest creation. 620 E. 6th Ave., 6885 S. Santa Fe Dr., Ste. A
At Aurora darling Annette, chef-owner Caroline Glover sources one East Coast and one West Coast oyster variety at a time—currently Island Creek oysters from Massachusetts and Hama Hamas from Washington—from small distributors who work directly with family-owned oyster farms. The restaurant receives shipments of oysters two to three times per week and Glover says she always strives to have one variety for the “entry-level” palate—something clean and without an overwhelming brine—and something with deep ocean flavor for the more seasoned connoisseur. Whatever your pleasure, drizzle on Glover’s house-made mignonette, crafted with small-batch raw vinegars made from unconventional ingredients such as kombu and celery. Visit on Tuesdays when happy hour runs all night and oysters are $1 off. 2501 Dallas St., Ste. 108, Aurora
Six-month-old Apple Blossom, located in the Hyatt Centric downtown, is the latest seasonal venture from brother-and-sister-restaurateurs Paul and Aileen Reilly. Here, the duo serve up the freshest fare from around the U.S., including a stellar lineup of East Coast oysters, which are flown in multiple times per week. The oysters are shucked and served as minimally as possible—to “let the ocean and nature’s work shine,” Paul says. He and chef de cuisine Russ Fox prefer the briny flavor of Atlantic bivalves, so they source their cups exclusively from farms in states like Connecticut, Delaware, and Maryland. Currently, guests can enjoy a half dozen shucks for $22; we recommend adding a drop of the house-made, green-strawberry mignonette, a sweet-tart accompaniment that makes the brine shine. 822 18th St.
Blue Island Oyster Bar
Blue Island Oyster Bar has been a seafood staple in Cherry Creek since 2015, and this past January, the popular haunt opened an outpost in Lone Tree. Chef-owner Sean Huggard and his New York–based partner Chris Quartuccio (who owns Blue Island Oyster Farm, which grows mollusks for the restaurant) fly in 10 varieties of oysters daily, delighting guests with signature Blue Island No. 9s, which have a medium brine and notes of cucumber. Enjoy $2.50 shucks during the daily happy hour (2–6 p.m.), and $1 oysters all day Monday. 2625 E. 2nd Ave., 10008 Commons St., Ste. 100, Lone Tree
For Andy Niemeyer, owner of eight-year-old Cart-Driver, chilled oysters and piping hot pizza are a delicious pairing, and Denverites seeking both bites can nosh on wood-fired slices and slurp down mollusks at either the RiNo or LoHi locations. The restaurants carry three to four East and West Coast varieties each, which are purchased directly from family farms three times a week. Favorites include melony Hama Hamas from Washington state and buttery Island Creeks from Massachusetts. Visit for the daily happy hour, when oysters are $1 off along with $7 bubbles on tap. 2239 W. 30th Ave., 2500 Larimer St., Ste. 100
Forget Me Not
Thursdays through Saturdays, Oyster Wulff’s Wolven shucks oysters out of a cooler on the patio at Forget Me Not, Cherry Creek’s chic cocktail bar. Wolven, who grew up in Maine plucking ocean dwellers fresh from the water, maintains relationships with the mom-and-pop farms back home, and flies oysters to the Centennial State multiple times per week. Wolven prefers oysters with high salinity—which helps carry tertiary notes like reed grass and moss, he says—and has honed his palate and his craft by traveling the country to attend oyster festivals and learn regional shucking techniques. So while at $5 a pop, the oysters he brings in are some of the highest-priced in Denver, in this expert’s hands, they’re worth it. 227 Clayton St.
Jax Fish House and Oyster Bar
If you arrive before 26-year-old Jax’s LoDo location opens at 3:30 p.m., expect to wait in line with other seafood aficionados congregating for the daily happy hour, when house oysters are just $2. Developed in collaboration with Virginia-based Rappahannock River Oysters, the proprietary Emersums are smooth, clean, and vegetal—perfect for introducing to an oyster-shy friend or pairing with a glass of Brut (just $8 during happy hour). More adventurous eaters should slurp the eight to 10 other varieties on ice, like the slow-growing West Coast favorites, Kumamotos, which are honeydew-sweet with a mild brine. The well of mouth-watering options never runs dry, however, 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 big events such as the Rockies opening weekend. 1539 17th St.
Two-month old Water Grill has wowed Denverites with some of the freshest fruits of the sea, flown in daily from King’s Seafood, its proprietary distribution company—and that prowess is especially apparent in the raw bar menu. Pass through the expansive formal dining room to arrive at the more casual bar, where you’ll find experts shucking shells right on the bartop. Select from up to 18 different varieties on any given day, including standouts like the creamy-sweet, slightly briny Wellfleets, and lesser-known options such as earthy Taber Points, and mineral-forward Blue Pools. Slurp them down raw or add a kick with Water Grill’s fresh habanero-lime relish. 1691 Market St.
Stoic & Genuine
This Union Station bastion from chef Jennifer Jasinski and her partner Beth Gruitch gathers fresh oysters daily from both coasts—currently shucking crowd-pleasers like the briny, mineral-forward Moondancers from Maine and meaty, cucumber-fresh Oishis from North Puget Sound, Washington. Visit the spacious, light-filled bistro for “oyster hour,” from 2–5 p.m., Monday through Friday, for two-buck shucks of chef’s choice East or West Coast oysters, plus $7 bubbles, wine, and cocktails. Be sure to visit in September for Stoic & Genuine’s annual OysterFest, when the shellfish takes over the menu in all forms, from oyster paté to po’ boys. 1701 Wynkoop St.