HOME > Chowhound > Washington DC & Baltimore >
Do you create unique foods? Tell us about it
TELL US

Oyster bars in DC

j
Jack H Mar 12, 2002 08:42 PM

My wife and I will be in DC in a few weeks--we love fresh" raw oysters! Any places in DC that fly in daily oysters from P.E.I., Washington (State). B.C., or Alaska?
Thanks in advance for the advice!

  1. t
    Tugboat Mar 13, 2002 09:08 AM

    Every November they have an event called the "Oyster Riot". It is one of the most enjoyable food and wine events I have ever been to.

    They usually have between 20 and 30 different varieties of oysters on the half shell. They also pass around hot apps. like Stone crab claws, Oysters Rockefeller and shrimp. Cheese platters are scattered throughout the room.

    A few weeks before the actual event, they have an oyster and wine competion. Several hundred wines and paired with oysters and the winners are picked. All of the wines that were judged are available to sample at the event. In addition to unlimited oysters, apps. and wine, they also offer unlimited Guinness and Harp for those that like to drink beer with their bivalves.

    Although they usually have close to 1,000 people at the event, it always seems to run smoothly (esp. if you get there right as it starts). You may have to wait a bit as the evening progresses, but they overstaff so things really do move well.

    The event is always the Friday before Thanksgiving, but be forewarned: The tickets go on sale in September and tend to go quickly.

    For the last 2 years, the ticket price was $70.

    A few weeks before the competition, they have a oyster and wine competion. Several hundered wines and paired with oysters and the winners are picked. All of the wines that were judged are available to sample at the event. In addition to unlimited oysters, apps. and wine, they also offer unlimted Guniness and Harp for those that like to drink beer with their bivalves.

    Although they usually have close to 1,000 people at the event, it always seems to run smoothly (esp. if you get there right as it starts)

    The event is always the Friday before Thanksgiving, but be forewarned: The tickets go on sale in Septemeber and tend to go quickly.

    For the last 2 years, the ticket price was $70.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Tugboat
      g
      GregJ Mar 13, 2002 09:25 AM

      And bear in mind that Monday's - Thursday's from 3 PM until (I think 6 or 7 PM) Old Ebbitt's raw bar (oysters, clams, shrimp) is on sale for half price. This is a very good deal!

      1. re: GregJ
        j
        Jim Zurer Mar 24, 2002 01:32 PM

        Same used to be true at Oceanaire Seafood Grill...it may have been 4-6 pm. Good bargain.

        Jim Zurer
        Washington DC

      2. re: Tugboat
        f
        flavrmeistr Mar 13, 2002 02:51 PM

        Sounds like some serious good fun! Do you have to dress
        up? Down here in Ft. Pierce, FL we have a similar affair put on by the Fire Dept. All the oysters (Appa-
        lachicola's), pit-roasted wild hog, beer and country
        music you can stand for $20 a head. Bring your own screwdriver. A work-glove wouldn't hurt, either. It's
        usually around St. Paddy's day, though not always.

        1. re: Tugboat
          t
          TerriS Mar 14, 2002 10:38 AM

          One of the things that I like about the Ebbitt is that they handle all customers, from the slinky happy hour professionals to tourists in shorts, equally gracefully. I had friends in town who were dressed for sightseeing - very casually - and we had lunch there. Fit right in and the service was just as nice. I think they get a mix of tourists and well-dressed locals so they are just nice to everyone. While I don't know what appropriate attire is for the Oyster Riot, I can't imagine they set really high standards for their Oyster Happy Hour. I'm going to have to hope I remember to look up that Oyster Riot when September goes around...that sounds fabulous!

        2. t
          TerriS Mar 13, 2002 07:51 AM

          I'll second both the Old Ebbitt Grill and the Oceanaire for excellent oysters. If you're in Old Town, I like getting oysters and a beer at the Union Street Public House. Sea Catch in Georgetown also has good oysters. I'm a fan of the Pacific Northwest too, but hey, I like 'em all.

          1. t
            Tugboat Mar 13, 2002 05:58 AM

            I agree with you. Some of the best oysters I have had were from Prince Edward Island.

            The place in DC with the best selection of oysters is the Old Ebbitt Grill (right near the White House) They try to have up to 10 varieties on hand most of the time.

            If you have non-bivalve eaters in your group, the other menu items are outstanding as well.

            1. j
              Joe H. Mar 12, 2002 09:01 PM

              Arguably the best oysters are not from any of the areas you mention. Chincoteaque-which are hard to find even here-may be the most flavorful anywhere. I prefer them over all of the Pacific Northwest ones including Olympia. Prince Edward Island I have never seen anywhere on either coast. The best oyster bar in the D. C. area is probably the original Crisfield's on Georgia Avenue in Silver Spring. It has been celebrated by a number of celebrities ranging from Julia Child to Calvin Trilling who called it the "best fish house in America." It's probably not but for oysters and stuffed flounder in a formica and tile enviornment it is without peer and worth driving out from D. C. They also have Chincoteaques in season.

              6 Replies
              1. re: Joe H.
                f
                flavrmeistr Mar 13, 2002 08:36 AM

                The best oysters I've ever eaten were taken off Cape
                St. George in the Appalachicola Bay, Florida. Not
                too big, firm and briny with an under-lying sweetness.
                $30.00 a bushel dockside in St. Joe. You probably won't
                get 'em that cheap in D.C., but someone must carry them.

                1. re: flavrmeistr
                  j
                  Jim Zurer Mar 24, 2002 01:59 PM

                  Southern oysters are generally not highly prized outside the region...something to do with the temperature of the water being too warm.

                  I am sure that the flavor of the oysters you got off the boat were enhanced by their freshness and the ambience...but, in my experience, you will generally not find Gulf of Mexico oysters on raw bar menus outside the South.

                  Jim Zurer
                  Washington DC

                  1. re: Jim Zurer
                    f
                    flavrmeistr Mar 24, 2002 09:28 PM

                    I've also eaten Appalachicolas at a raw bar in the main
                    terminal at O'Hare (I rate this my most pleasant layover in memory) which were as good or better than
                    anything that came out of Chesapeake Bay. Don't get me
                    wrong, I grew up in the DC area and spent a lot of time
                    on Kent Island where my girlfriend's family were all
                    watermen. Should've married her for that alone...
                    Anyway, most of those beds are done and I hear there is
                    actually a shortage of crabs (?!) up there. This is sad
                    and scary because you could always count on crabs if
                    there was nothing else. As for ambience, the best seafood dinner I ever had was a seven-pound spiny
                    lobster I plucked off the cooling intake screen at
                    the St. Lucie nuclear power plant in Ft. Pierce, FL.
                    We steamed it in a welding rod can and ate it in the
                    shadow of Reactor Unit #2. The priciest platter at Crisfield's couldn't compare. It's true, there are some years down here when conditions are unfavorable
                    for oysters (red tide, etc.) but when they're right,
                    they're really right. And, I agree--there's nothing
                    like getting 'em right out of the water.

                    1. re: flavrmeistr
                      j
                      Jim Zurer Mar 25, 2002 07:46 AM

                      My favorite oysters are those that come from New England and north.....for flavor and texture.

                      It is a shame about the Chesapeake Bay situation.....for both oysters and crabs.

                      My best memories of southern oyster dishes are ones that were fried--in New Orleans, South Carolina, etc. What I remember most about southern oysters on the half-shell is that the flavor was generally muted...that didn't keep me enjoying the seafood buffets in Atlanta when you could eat as many oysters as you could from the unlimited supply heaped on the table.

                      The best oysters I ever had also were eaten in Chicago--at the Blue Point Oyster Bar. I can't remember (to my chagrin) the type of oysters we had that day, but I still remember the taste. They were from New England.

                      Jim Zurer
                      Washington DC

                      1. re: Jim Zurer
                        p
                        Pat Hammond Mar 25, 2002 08:05 AM

                        Perhaps those New England oysters were Wellfleets. They've always been among my favorites. Pat

                        1. re: Pat Hammond
                          j
                          Jim Zurer Mar 25, 2002 06:04 PM

                          Hmmmm...somehow I don't think they were Wellfleets, but I am not positive. Not Cotuits either....

                          Jim Zurer
                          Washington DC

              2. j
                Jeffrey Mar 12, 2002 08:52 PM

                Oceanaire Seafood Room has a large variety of fresh oysters. Read Tom Sietsema's review here:
                http://eg.washingtonpost.com/profile/1026759/
                Like Tom, I found their portions absolutely colossal yet flavorful and satisfying.

                Link: http://eg.washingtonpost.com/profile/...

                Show Hidden Posts