Raw Oysters at Casey Moore’s


As far as I know, I ate my first oyster at an oyster roast on Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina. At the time, I was a novice. I showed up, dressed up, ready to party. I didn’t realize we would be surrounded by oyster-scented mist and flying shells. I didn’t know I had to “shuck” anything. I certainly didn’t know I had to eat slimy creatures that closely resembled massive piles of snot. Most surprising, though? I loved the slimy creatures.

I soon discovered, via Pearlz on East Bay in Charleston, that I prefer oysters raw rather than roasted. (I prefer them in Oyster Shooters, too, which entails a single oyster in a shot glass of cocktail sauce and Absolute Peppar). Over the course of my two years in Charleston, I consumed more oysters than the entire land mass of the United Kingdom—where oysters are actually protected by an Act of Parliament during the spawning season.

Rumor has it oysters are aphrodisiacs. I recently read a biography of the so-called “great lover,” Casanova, by journalist Ian Kelly. (An interesting read. Made me want to go back to Venice. Check it out here.) Casanova used to eat piles of raw oysters pre-coitus, plus bottles of champagne. I don’t know much about the aphrodisiac claim. I do know that I had a craving last week that felt like pot munchies, minus the pot … and I did not hanker for Doritos; I hankered for raw oysters.

Where—in the land-locked state of Arizona—was a girl to find raw oysters? Jake took me to the grocery store, where I swore I saw some oysters, but they only had mussels. We asked the guy if we could order oysters. He priced us at over a dollar an oyster. I wasn’t that desperate. Not yet. Luckily, I did an online search, where I discovered Casey Moore’s Oyster House in Tempe.

I love Tempe, not just because it has raw oysters. I like the college town feel. I like the ASU campus. I like all the restaurants and bars spread along the two block radius of Mill Street. It feels like home to me; it feels like Athens, Ohio, in the middle of the desert. Casey Moore’s is an Irish pub—one of the most famous in Arizona, according to the website. It’s a nice little place with a dingy, dark inside bar area and a big outdoor patio covered in palm trees and umbrellas. Not classy but cute.

All I cared about were the oysters … and the Bloody Mary’s, which were excellent. I ordered a dozen oysters; nothing else. In case you’re wondering, even in a beach town like Charleston, the oysters were rarely from Charleston. The best oysters are arguably from New England, so I was okay ordering oysters in Arizona; they travel, no matter where you are.

I made my order, and then I waited. I watched the door to the kitchen, and when the little college dude brought my slimy monsters surrounded by ice chunks to our table, I wiped the drool from my chin and dug in.

How do you properly eat a raw oyster? First, you pick up the oyster on the half shell. Using the tiny fork they give you, wiggle the oyster around to make sure it is dislodged from the shell. I like to add fresh lemon juice to mine and a dash of fresh horseradish. (You only need a dash of fresh horseradish. Even when dabbling, you still get that intense burn in your nose that makes you feel like you’ve been punched in the face.) Then, open your mouth, lean the shell on your bottom lip, and pour the whole thing—oyster juice and all—down your throat. At this point, you smile, because you just consumed one of the best known delicacies on earth.

I ate my dozen oysters at Casey Moore’s. I could have had a dozen more, but I stopped myself. See, I didn’t have to panic about the lack of raw oysters in Arizona, because I have now discovered my personal oasis in the desert. I can always go back for more. You should, too, especially if you’ve never tried a raw oyster. I know they look like slimy little monsters, but they taste divine.

10 thoughts on “Raw Oysters at Casey Moore’s

  1. Well, here is my argument…..Gulf of Mexico had the best oysters. Not so sure now after the oil spill. But not New England, sorry and to eat them you must put the slimy booger on a saltine and top with tabasco sauce, stuff in mouth and enjoy the chew. If you are lucky the taste of salt water will enhance the flavor. MmmmMmmm Good!!!

  2. Let’s be honest: I’ll eat oysters from ANYWHERE. And I’m not big on saltines. I like the slimy critters all by themselves. Mmmm. Dang it, now I’m hungry again …

  3. Sweet Sara. You know I love you, but your ignorant take on oysters could only come from someone originating from Ohio… (I already mentioned I love you, right?) The best oysters come from the South. The rest is up to your preference. Texas oysters are large, massive bivalves that look like they have been hopped up on steroids. The saltyness of these fine oysters is mild. Overall on a scale from 1-10 I would rate these at a 6. Florida oysters can rate a little higher on the O Scale depending upon what side of the panhandle you get it from. Typically, oyster from the Gulf side of the panhandle tend to be smaller than the Texas oysters, but not by too much. They are pretty much the same in salt content. Overall I will rate them at a 7 and that is only if they are raw. 6 if they are cooked perfectly. The oysters between Texas and Florida are a happy medium between the two. Everything is better in the Atlantic. The Panhandle Atlantic oyster are medium/large in size and a bit saltier in taste and far preferable to the ones in Texas. I would rate them at an 8… But nothing… and I mean NOTHING compares to the sublime suculency of the SC Local oyster… just thinking of them makes me crave them. These oysters are on the medium side, but I have seen quite a few medium/large ones this season. These oysters a salty and sweet and need nothing on top. Just me, the oysters and The Master Shucker (my special knife I’ve had since around age 10). I may be bias (hell yeah I am) but I rate these beauties at 10.

    But, Alas, is there anything better than a perfect oyster roast…

    Yes there is.

    I rate the following on the O Scale from 1-10. The rating is an 11… You have never tasted bliss until you have taken a boat ride in the dead of winter, wind stinging your face, boots stuck in the pluff mud where these creatures live to harvest your own. Not till you have taken a special oysterin hammer and knocked off your own selects until you find that perfect oyster. Throw down your hammer and shuck that bad boy right there and then, press him up against your lips and let it slide into your mouth. Savor the flavor… the sublime deliciousness of that oyster…
    (damn the end of that conversation got really sexual…)

    • As always, I bow to she who knows best, oh wise one.
      PS: I hate pluff mud.
      PSS: Everything ends up sexual with you 😉

  4. I think that the world’s population is divided into two groups- people who love oysters and people who hate oysters. I love oysters, particularly for breakfast. In my working life as a chef I get to eat oysters at their very freshest and so I have been spoiled. Here in Australia we have several different varieties of oyster and the best ones are supposed to come from the Rocks in Sydney. My own preference is for Coffin Bay oysters from South Australia. The ancient Romans imported their oysters from Britain at great expense to the Empire. Keep on shuckin’!

  5. Hello, Sara.

    I stumbled across your (well-written) blog after a quick google search of “Oysters at Casey Moore’s” — hoping to find a website or blog post as informative as the above. Well, to be honest, I suppose I was scouring the web to find someone, anyone, who might give a positive review of the oysters at Casey’s. You see, tonight is the night I try my first raw oyster! And I am, to keep it PG, extremely excited!
    I’ve long admired — and on certain mornings, despised — the nutty, mouth-wathering taste of a pint of Guinness; but when I was fortunate enough to be told that the delicious dark stuff is excellent when paired with a plate of raw oysters, I was left wondering why I hadn’t been let in on the delicious secret! The fact that I was also reading Anthony Bourdain’s “Kitchen Confidential” further led to my piqued interest in the slimy things.
    In any case, thanks for your short review. It’s good to know, from someone who knows, that one can find a good oyster in Arizona.

    Wish me luck! (I’ve heard a single bad oyster has the power to scar one for life!)

    • 1) Glad you enjoyed the blog!!
      2) I enjoy oysters with a spicy Bloody Mary. I think Bloody Marys go best with the slimy bits of heaven. (Hence “oyster shooters:” raw oysters served in shot glasses with Absolut Peppar, cocktail sauce, and ground pepper. YUM.)
      3) If you have a “bad oyster” (which I don’t think I’ve ever come across), do not despair. Keep eating. They’re heavenly, especially when they have the salty fresh from the sea taste!
      4) I’m jealous. Have fun tonight!

  6. Well, the oysters were amazing! I can’t believe it took me this long to try them. I was actually thinking about hosting an oyster party (of sorts) at my place, and was thinking about where I could possibly buy them locally. AJ’s perhaps? Or maybe I’ll just have to fly them in? Whatever the case, I’m hooked!

    You run a great little blog here; it’s refreshing to read people who also love to read. I have just at the moment finished reading Patrick Leigh Fermor’s “A Time of Gifts,” the first book of his as-yet-left-unfinished trilogy, his recent and sad death being an interruption before the publishing of the third.
    I’m not sure if you ever attend to forms of Travel Writing, but I would easily classify Fermor as one of the best of writers in that (notoriously imprecise) genre. I can’t recommend the book highly enough.

    My favorite living writer’s (David Bentley Hart) article on one of my favorite all-time writers: http://www.firstthings.com/onthesquare/2011/06/patrick-leigh-fermor-rip

    I Enjoyed poking around the blog, and I wish you all the success with your writing career! I’ll keep a look out for your book!

    • I’m so glad you liked them!!! I’m not sure where to get them locally. I tried to order them from Safeway, and they got all confused and flustered. Maybe AJ’s? Maybe even Whole Foods, but I don’t have one nearby. Let me know if you discover a secret place to buy them!

      Fermor sounds like an interesting man, as does his writing. Too bad he passed away, but well, he was 96!!! I will have to check him out.

      I’m glad you enjoy my blog. I will keep writing, even though it can be mighty difficult sometimes. Stop by anytime! And keep eating oysters!!

  7. I’ll definitely let you know if I find a good place to buy locally.

    Hang in there and keep banging the keyboard! You’ve got the chops!

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