It’s been chilly and that means I’ve been feeling the need to bundle up, head outside and crack into a pile of steaming oysters.
There’s nothing quite like standing around a makeshift table in the cold and jostling to get your hands on a cluster of oysters fresh from the steam pot (or off the fire, depending on your host’s approach), popping those puppies open and slurping them down until you get full. And it’s pretty much impossible to get full on oysters.
Back when I was a novice, I took the training wheels approach to oyster eating, putting a small one on a Captain’s Wafer and dousing with hot sauce. Nowadays, I’m partial to eating them plain, straight off the oyster knife.
As we hit the holiday season, you can expect to find oyster roasts popping off all over the place. Here’s a roundup of weekly events at local bars and restaurants along with some marquee events you won’t want to miss in the coming months.
Weekly Oyster Roasts
41 Center St. Folly Beach
During oyster season, this casual beach bar steams up local clusters for weekly Wednesday night oyster roasts (6-9 p.m.) with live music. Buckets are $10 with $2.50 Buds.
130 Mills St., Mount Pleasant
On Thursdays from 6 to 9 p.m., this Shem Creek favorite hosts all-you-can-eat oyster roasts for $19.95, but it only happens if the weather is nice.
1846 Old Folly Beach Road, Charleston
James Islanders can get in on the Thursday night (5-9 p.m.) oyster-eating action at Tattooed Senorita's all-you-can-eat oyster roast, which runs at the bargain basement price of $12.99. The vibe here is super casual with big decks, picnic tables and outdoor fire pits.
3328 Maybank Highway, Johns Island
The Johns Island Moose held weekly roasts throughout November and the next one returns on Dec. 30, 2-6 p.m., with bluegrass from Dallas Baker and Friends, plus $20 all-you-can-eat oysters and a full brunch menu. Bring the kids for this one, because they'll have jump castles to keep them occupied while you shuck your face off.
Oyster roasts for fun and fundraising
The Bohemian Bull on James Island (1531 Folly Road) serves as the backdrop for this fundraiser, which will have oysters as well as barbecue. $25. Dec. 8, 7 p.m. 843-225-1817
Charleston Harbor Resort & Marina, Mount Pleasant
In the summer, there is Party at the Point, but come winter, the Charleston Harbor Resort & Marina transitions to roasting oysters on the beach with live music and lots of beer. Plus bloody Marys and roasted marshmallows. The Dec. 8 event ($7, kids under 12 free) will provide a great vantage point for watching the Holiday Parade of Boats. Party at the Point also will be held Jan. 12, Feb. 9 and March 16 with $5 admission.
This event on the pier also will provide a great view of the Holiday Parade of Boats. Charleston Bay Gourmet will be selling buckets of oysters for $10 and another vendor will be selling hot dogs and brats. Dec. 8, 5-8 p.m. $8 in advance or $10 on site.
3211 Eenjy Lane, Johns Island
Take the kids out to Johns Island for this Lowcountry Land Trust fundraiser, which will have a full oyster roast plus live music and local beer. Lowcountry Oyster Co. will provide oyster tastings. Dec. 9, 1-4 p.m. $40, kids under 12 free.
Boone Hall Plantation, 1235 Long Point Road, Mount Pleasant
If you aren't hip to the local oyster scene, make plans to attend the largest oyster festival around, which happens every January during the height of oyster season. It's an epic day of shucking and sucking with thousands of pounds of oysters being served by the bucket. Jan. 27, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. $17.50 advance, $25 at the gate. Food and oysters extra. Pro tip: The VIP ticket ($100 through Dec. 31) includes a VIP tent with food and oysters.
For a truly unique Lowcountry experience, opt for this event, which happens on a barrier island across from the Isle of Palms that requires a ferry ride to get to. All-you-can-eat oysters steamed over a fire will be plentiful but they'll round out the offerings with fish stew, hot dogs, dessert and water. BYOB and coolers are encouraged. Live music and a local vendor market will keep you entertained. Ticket price includes ferry ride and 100 percent of ticket sales benefits the Magdalene House of Charleston, a recovery home for women struggling with addiction. Feb. 23, 2-6 p.m. Tickets are $60 and will be limited to 175.
Oyster roasts at the Visitor Center Bus Shed tend to be loud and fun. This one, thrown by the Brain Injury Association of South Carolina, is all-you-can-eat with chicken chili and live music. Jan. 18, 6:30-9:30 p.m. $40.
The Charleston Museum opens up this special piece of land on the Stono River for its annual fundraising oyster roast, which has live music and archaeologists on hand to discuss important discoveries that have been found nearby. The 2019 event is slated for Feb. 23, 12-3 p.m. Tickets haven't been released yet.
Don't know nothing about shuckin'?
NICO, 201 Coleman Blvd., Mount Pleasant
At his Mount Pleasant restaurant, Nico Romo is offering a series of oyster classes every Monday night in January that will look at farming techniques and teach you how to shuck. In addition of a dozen raw oysters of different varieties, attendees also will receive their own oyster knife, a signed copy of "The NICO Oyster Hunt" book, an oyster candle gift set and a glass of Oysterman wine. $50.
Just want a steamed oyster?
1870 Bowens Island Road, Charleston
If you're not keen on hitting a bar or paying for a fundraiser, you can always head to Bowens Island Restaurant near Folly Beach. It's the one place you can always find steamed oysters (during oyster season), plucked from nearby waters, steamed up and shoveled onto the table in front of you. Prices start at $12 for a half tray and go up to market price for all-you-can-eat.
Buy a bushel ... or two
Once you've got the knack of how to handle yourself at an oyster roast, the next step is to host your own. It's easy. Just grab a bushel or two and figure out how you're going to steam them: in a steam pot, over a fire or on a grill. Bushels at Crosby's Fish and Shrimp on Folly run $42.99, but plan ahead, they often sell out before the weekend. And when you're done, don't forget to drop your leftover shells off at a S.C. Department of Natural Resources oyster shell recycling bin. They'll return those shells to the water to help grow more for years to come.
Did we miss your oyster roast? Send it to us firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll keep this list updated throughout the season.