The oyster beds off the Oregon Coast are some of the most hallowed in the world. Mostly, however, the oysters grown here are the non-native Pacific variety brought over from Japan almost a century ago. In Portland, there's one oyster bar that's been around since the days when all we had were native Olympias.
Dan & Louis Oyster Bar was founded in 1907 by the Wachsmuth family, who still run it today. Going there in the cool winter months, when oysters are best, is probably Portland's oldest surviving culinary tradition.
The oyster bar a block south of West Burnside Street is a labyrinthine maze of tight corners and unexpected hallways. Go to the Ankeny back bar during happy hour, where bartender Holly Costa has become a Portland tradition in her own right, presiding there for 18 years. Her daughter, Ashley, has been there for seven.
A dozen is $24 during happy hour, offering the full sampler of five or six varietals that might also include transplanted East Coast virginicas. You might lose out on popular Hama Hamas or sea cows if you get there too late on a Monday or Tuesday, when happy hour runs till the bar closes.
Dan & Louis is one of the only oyster bar so old school it still serves cocktail sauce with its oysters, alongside horsey sauce and a rose mignonette so fine the onions appear to be dust. Don't use them. Sauce your oysters with the brine from the oysters themselves. The bar takes oyster delivery Tuesday to Friday, making Tuesday a very fine day to get a fresh dozen, maybe from either the fifth generation of the Wachsmuths or the second of the Costas.
GO: Dan & Louis Oyster Bar, 208 SW Ankeny St., 503-227-5906, danandlouis.com. 11 am-9 pm Monday-Thursday, 11 am-10 pm Saturday, noon-9 pm Sunday. Happy hour all day Monday and Tuesday, 4-6 pm Wednesday-Friday.