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Originally published Tuesday, January 4, 2011 at 7:02 PM

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Happy Hour: Better than coupons — oysters and wine at Whole Foods

Whole Foods Market in Westlake offers a variety of food-themed happy hours, from street food to 69-cent oyster night.

Seattle Times staff reporter

HAPPY HOUR |

Our happy-hour pick this week takes us past the rows of grocery carts, by the lily bunches in the floral station, not far from the organic Pink Lady apples in the produce aisle ($1.99 per pound, by the way). Yeah, we threw a few back at Whole Foods Market in Westlake recently. No kidding; feel free to insert your own "whole paycheck" joke.

It's 50-cent wings this particular Wednesday night. It will be street food later this month. Its raison d'être, though, is the 69-cent oyster happy hour. Happens about twice a month in the store's cafe. It's an event that oyster lovers plan their schedule around. The line starts forming about 15 minutes before the oysters are served.

Last week, the oyster choices were Barron Point, from Puget Sound — meaty, buttery and sweet, served with lemon wedges, cocktail sauce, horseradish cream and a daikon-cucumber-wasabi blend.

These were plump, not the small, discarded oysters that often end up on the menu at $1 oyster happy hours.

Pick up any beer or wine in the store to pair with your oysters. No corkage fee. Two dozen oysters and a bottle of sparkling wine may run you around $30, enough for at least three people.

During summer, the line stretched back nearly to the other end of the store. It's a really big store. The devotees come early and grab a table in the cafe while dispatching someone to stand in line. They've already picked out the wine.

You think this is pathetic, pal? Ask the couple that came late and waited 30 minutes. They were probably staring at the $54.99 Riedel crystal flutes on display, by the end of the line.

Whole Foods Market, 2210 Westlake Ave., offers a themed happy hour two to three times a week, hours and days vary. The next 69-cent oyster happy hour is 6-8 p.m. Jan. 18. Other food-themed happy hours run from 5-7:30 p.m. (206-621-9700; check the calendar for happy hours at wholefoodsmarket.com/stores/westlake/).

Tan Vinh: 206-515-5656 or tvinh@seattletimes.com

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