American Nomad Blog
About this blog
American Nomad covers the best of U.S. travel—from vacation deals to festivals, weekend getaways, travel tips, and more. A seasoned traveler and Moon author, Laura is the perfect guide to help discover new gems when traveling domestically.
- A Southern Girl's Wintertime Adventure in Yellowstone
- One Novelist's Odyssey Across America
- Gearing up for a Family Camping Trip
- Mint Juleps and More at Oak Alley Plantation
- Avoiding Identity Theft While on Vacation
- Money-Saving Travel Tips from Nomadic Matt
- Fashion, Fun, and Convenience for the Modern Traveler
- In Search of Irish Museums Across America
- The Inspiring Journey of a Solo Kayaker
- Getting Fit for Treks in Yosemite and Elsewhere, Part 2
- Getting Fit for Treks in Yosemite and Elsewhere, Part 1
- Experiencing Yosemite with YExplore
- Two Travel Contests Worth Mentioning
- A Word About the TSA's No-No List
- A Reader's Advice About Airport Security
Recently, I discovered that my all-time favorite oyster bar is no longer in operation. Situated at the southern end of South Padre Island (on the “Texas Riviera”), the Dolphin Cove Oyster Bar was a terrific local hangout. Regulars, perched on barstools in the breezy, open-air joint, would spend all afternoon chatting with one another, watching televised sports, and relishing beer specials, cheap hot dogs, and the freshest oysters around.
Whenever my husband, Dan, and I visited our pals on South Padre, we’d make some time for the Dolphin Cove – especially for the half-price oyster special. For five bucks, we’d share a plate of the 12 biggest, cleanest, freshest oysters that either of us had ever seen. While savoring our oysters (properly laced with lime juice and cocktail sauce), we’d relax on our picnic table outside the bar and observe the playful dolphins in the adjacent cove. So, it’s sad that the aptly named Dolphin Cove Oyster Bar is no more.
Luckily, however, I’ve found a new favorite oyster source – the Oceana Grill (739 Rue Conti, 504/525-6002, $5-24) in New Orleans. True, the frolicking dolphins have been replaced with drunken conventioneers and wayward transvestites – and a dozen oysters cost four bucks more than the Dolphin Cove special – but trust me, the place is well worth a visit. Dan and I discovered Oceana, which is located near one of the busiest intersections on Bourbon Street, late one night – when I had a major craving for oysters, and most of my usual options had already closed. Until then, I had never noticed this place before, or heard any recommendations from my pals. But, driven by my craving, I ignored the possibility that Oceana was merely a tourist trap, ordered a dozen oysters from the ever-present owner, and fell in love right then and there – with the place, not the owner (although he’s quite cordial).
Lots of French Quarter eateries offer “oysters on the half shell,” but most of the time, the oysters are small, pricey, and dirty. That’s certainly the case at the oft-praised Acme Oyster House. But Oceana offers some of the freshest, largest oysters I’ve ever had the pleasure to slurp – and given my fond memories of the Dolphin Cove, that’s no empty recommendation. Even better, Oceana is open every night until 2 a.m., so my oyster craving can be appeased at almost any time of day.
For even cheaper oysters, try the Original French Market Restaurant & Bar (1001 Decatur St., 504/525-7879, $10-20) during happy hour (Mon.-Fri., 3-5 p.m.), when raw oysters are 50 cents apiece. Although Dan and I normally avoid the overpriced tourist trap for regular meals, we’ve experienced many a memorable weekday afternoon there, sitting on the second-floor balcony, savoring oysters and Abita beer, and watching the pedestrians and horse-drawn carriages on the street below. Once, we were even serenaded by Willie the bicycle balladeer, a ubiquitous fixture in the French Quarter.
If you’ve never tasted a raw oyster before, don't wait another minute. I admit that, as a child, I was apprehensive about eating oysters on the half shell – I’m sure the news reports of oyster-related health scares didn’t help – but after my first taste, I’ve never looked back. Happily, I’ve made a convert of my husband, too, so he doesn’t mind that the first thing I have to do upon our frequent returns to New Orleans is to stop at Oceana for a platter of to-die-for oysters. Just thinking about them makes my mouth water, and I hope that my next trip to the Big Easy will be very soon indeed.