Austin Oyster Cult
Austin Oyster Festival celebrates 10 years of shucking good shellfish
The world is your oyster, or at least Republic Square is, at the 10th Annual Austin Oyster Festival coming February 25th. Although Austin may be a little far inland to make oysters a large part of its everyday diet, this festival will gather the best in grilled and fried oysters, seafood dishes, cocktail pairings, and more, all benefiting the Central Texas Food Bank and Hope Campaign, a nonprofit creative network.
The outdoor festival includes four bars for different experiences and levels of knowledge. Foodies and supportive friends who don’t think much about the provenance of oysters will enjoy the grill and fry bars, which will cook up dishes that highlight shellfish, with lots of additional flavors including gumbo with rock shrimp and andouille sausage at the former.
More shrimp is in store at the Grill Bar, with Creole barbecue butter and grilled garlic bread, served to complement the smoked bacon Oysters Rockefeller. The Fry Bar is more sandwich focussed with po’boys and banh mis, plus fries on the side and banana pudding for dessert, in collaboration with Amy’s Ice Creams.
All visitors will have to stop by the Bloody Mary Bar, which enables lovers and skeptics of the cocktail alike to create a custom cocktail with toppings and add-ins that work for them. Sponsored by Bloody Revolution, an Austin-based bottled mix, the bar also offers Tito’s Handmade Vodka, wine by Brÿt, beers by Fredericksburg’s Altstadt Brewery, plus a variety of alcoholic and non-alcoholic seltzers.
Finally, advanced oyster lovers should explore the Raw Bar, with fresh oysters from the East, West, and northern coasts. (If you didn’t know there’s a northern coast, same, and the festival will be a great time to brush up on your coastal geography.)
That bar’s not all for hardcore fans, who can also sign up to access a VIP lounge with private tastings, sponsored cocktails, and snacks by Austin’s own Chef Shane Stark of Mongers Market + Kitchen, with help from 1417 French Bistro, Keepers Coastal Kitchen, and more local eateries.
Two bands — Blue Mist and The Lost Pines, and Chansons Et Soulards — will keep the Southern party going while guests enjoy the four bars and a raffle for local goodies. Volunteers will also swim around picking up oyster shells to reintroduce to local ecosystems thanks to the Texas Surf Conservancy and Texas A&M Corpus Christi.
The Austin Oyster Festival will take place at Republic Square on February 25 from noon to 6 pm. Tickets ($70 general admission, $125 VIP, free for kids under 8) include varying amounts of vouchers to use at the bars, and are available at austinoysterfestival.com. Tickets may also be sold at the event, but usually sell out in advance.