By Alleen Brown
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Oceanaire Seafood Room
1300 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis; 612.333.2277
Perhaps the most impressive oyster bar in town. A dozen types of oysters every night, usually divided between East and West Coast varieties. Western oysters generally run $2.49 each, with Eastern varieties about $2.99.
Stella's Fish Cafe
1400 W. Lake St., Minneapolis; 612.824.8862
Stella's raw bar carries oysters from both coasts, with varieties changing often. This week you'll likely find Totten Inlet virginicas, Kumamotos, Blue Points, and Malpeques, selling for $2.50 to $2.75 each (or the chef can choose a dozen for you for $24.95). During Stella's famous Oyster Orgy on Fridays from 3 to 6 p.m., bivalves are 50 cents a pop.
Azia's Anemoni Sushi & Oyster Bar
2550 Nicollet Ave., Minneapolis; 612.813.1200
Adjacent to Azia, Anemoni serves a dozen or so varieties (mostly from the West Coast at the moment) with a ginger vinaigrette and house cocktail sauce with horseradish. They sell for about $2.30 to $3 each.
Blue Point Restaurant & Bar
739 E. Lake Street, Wayzata; 952.475.3636
Depending on the season, Blue Point may carry four to eight varieties. At the moment, they're serving Hillsboroughs, Kumamotos, Blue Points, and Malpeques (with a few more expected for Valentine's Day) at $1.50 to $3.75 apiece.
Salut Bar Americain
5034 France Ave. S., Edina; 952.929.3764 and 917 Grand Ave., St. Paul; 651.917.2345
The four kinds of oysters at Salut's raw bar are divided between East and West coasts (currently James River and Malpeques from the East; Kumamoto and Eagle Rock from the West). Each is $2.95, or $2 during happy hours. The menu also features Oysters Moscow (with horseradish sauce, caviar, and a shot of premium vodka) for $18.95.
McCormick & Schmick's Seafood
800 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis; 612.338.3300
You'll find six varieties of oysters on the half shell at M&S's raw bar, which change every other day and seasonally. At the moment they sell Sailor Girl (from Virginia), Blue Point from Long Island, three varieties from British Columbia, and Sunset Beach (Washington). At dinner, six go for $12.95, or get four for $7.95 at lunch. During happy hour, Sailer Girl oysters are two for $1.95. For Valentine's Day, a special menu showcases oysters, and the lucky diner who finds a specially hidden pearl in theirs wins a pearl necklace.
1600 W. Lake St., Minneapolis; 612.827.5710
Barbette always has raw oysters on the half shell on its menu (currently it's a Coan River variety from Virginia). You can order three, six, nine, or twelve, priced from $7 to $24 a plate. During happy hour, an order of three runs $5.
410 Saint Peter St., St. Paul; 651.222.5670
A very classic oysters on the half shell is always on the menu, says chef-owner Russell Klein, who is partial to briny East Coast varieties, such as the Conway Narrows oysters from Maine that he's now serving for $16 a half-dozen. Or try a bloody Mary oyster shooter, one of the $3 "amusements" on his menu.
Sea Salt Eatery
4825 Minnehaha Ave., Minneapolis; 612.721.8990
Though it closes every year from November to March, this Minnehaha Park mainstay is an oyster-eating adventure. Your order is shucked as you watch ($2.50 each or $15 a half-dozen) and can be consumed al fresco in the park. If you're not a purist, you can also get them fried or broiled.
74 S. Snelling Ave., St. Paul; 651.698.4888 and 2330 Minnehaha Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.724.7425
If you want to shuck you own fresh oysters, Coastal Seafood sells three to four varieties each of East and West Coast oysters, plus Japanese Kumamotos. At the moment, they have Blue Point, Alpine, and Wellfleet varieties from the East, and Hama Hama and Baron Point from the West. The staff can teach you about different flavor profiles or demonstrate how to shell your order. Domestic orders sell for 95 cents each; Kumamotos are $1.50.