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Where to eat oysters in the South Sound

Slurping time

Pacific Grill adds vodka to its oyster shooters. Photo courtesy of Pacific Grill

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With the passing of the autumnal equinox marking the close of summer, many folks are daydreaming of pumpkin-flavored everything, baked goods and hot cocoa. But true Northwesterners and seaside dwellers have one thing on their minds ... oyster season. While many bundle up, snag their buckets and shovels and race to the beach to get diggin', I opt to skip all that dirty work. I'm no mother shucker, and luckily there is no shortage of establishments serving up fresh oysters for those who are a lot like me - hell, there are even whole shindigs celebrating our sea shelled friends.

Here's a rundown of just a few.

Top of Tacoma Bar and Cafe is hosting an "Aww Shucks" clam bake at 5 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 29 featuring oysters from Taylor Shellfish. Co-owner Jaime Kay Jones says Taylor Shellfish is at "the forefront of sustainably raised shellfish doing extensive daily testing and taking tender care of their oyster beds."

For this event, the Top will feature Pacific oysters baked three ways: Rockefeller style with creamed spinach, bacon and panko; with a lemon basil butter; and with tobiko and asumac herb butter (each priced at 5 for $8). Also available will be a pan-fried oyster plate with remoulade and cocktail sauce or a po' boy on a delectable Macrina Bakery baguette ($8). If you like 'em on the half shell, you can partake in Shigoku or Kusshi with a Tabasco mignonette ($2 each or six for $10). Festivities also include local brews on tap from 7 Seas Brewing and entertainment provided by local rockers Blanco Bronco. 3529 McKinley Ave., Tacoma, 253.272.1502

Top of Tacoma's sister restaurant Marrow Kitchen and Bar also serves up oysters sourced from Taylor Shellfish and a daily catch on its fresh sheet each day. Presentation may vary as Marrow uses fresh seasonal ingredients. 2717 Sixth Ave., Tacoma, 253.267.5299

Pacific Grill features quality and delicious oysters on the half shell ($2.95) and phenomenal oyster shooters ($4.50), featuring a flavorful one-two punch of citrus vodka and fresh herbs to help wash down those bad boys, which is an excellent way to begin its much sought after happy hour. 1502 Pacific Ave., Tacoma, 253.627.3535

The Social Bar and Grill, located up on Thea's Foss Waterway, naturally has to serve up some fabulous oysters, being directly located on the water and among a hearty boating community. Opt for traditional oysters on a half shell (five for $12) presented with grated horseradish, lemon and a shallot mignonette or fried Hood Canal oysters ($8), served up with a side of slaw, roasted red pepper and a lemon caper aioli. 1715 Dock St., Tacoma, 253.301.3835

The Lobster Shop also serves up Hood Canal oysters on a half shell with choice of spicy jalapeño cocktail sauce or a champagne mignonette ($13). 4015 Ruston Way, Tacoma, 253.759.2165

Xinh's Clam and Oyster House boasts phenomenal shellfish options since the owner Xinh Dwelly was once employed with Taylor Shellfish. Choose from baked oysters topped with bacon and hoisin sauce ($10) or pan-fried served with traditional tartar and cocktail sauces ($10). 221West Railroad Ave., Shelton 360.427.8709

Dwelly was recently showcased at the Bayview School of Cooking teaching curious culinary minds how to prepare shellfish and seafood, including instruction in preparing oysters on the grill with lemon garlic butter and basil, red bell pepper and shallots. Keep an eye on the culinary school's calendar for more opportunities at

Lastly, coming up Oct. 5 and 6, the city of Shelton hosts Oysterfest. True lovers of shellfish bundle up and brave the potential chill in the air to sample local seafood, witness the West Coast Shucking Championship trials and sip on Washington state wines and microbrews. There's art, live music and even entertainment for the kiddies, but most importantly, there are oysters. For more details or to snag your tickets, visit

And with that, let's raise our half shells and toast to welcome fall with open arms and hungry bellies.

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