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Oysters in DC

Just wondering... have been really craving oysters lately... anyone have an opinion on the best place to grab some in DC? Thanks!

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  1. Was recently at Seacatch in Georgetown. They have a happy hour $1 oyster menu. Or order off their regular menu. A variety to choose from and a very knowledgeable staff.

    1. Probably the Old Ebbitt Grille near the White House. They offer multiple varieties, and also have an oyster happy hour.


      1. The two places above are my top two recommendations...Sea Catch and Old Ebbitt. Go to the raw bar in both.

        1. thanks!
          i am getting excited!
          and how do these compare to Hank's? some coworkers have recc'd it!

          7 Replies
          1. re: Lowbar

            Lowbar, your explanation of declining oyster harvests is accurate. I think the special raw varieties you list are largely farmed especially for the restaurant trade.
            I think it is incorrect however to extrapolate the local preferences in oysters based on observations at a few upscale oyster bars in downtown Washington. Large numbers of Washingtonians, particularly those with multi-generational roots here, want their Chincoteagues because it's part of their heritage. It's what they prefer and what you find in many other area restaurants that proudly advertise them as such.
            You can't fry up some Olympias for a sandwich. Belons aren't right for oyster dressing at Thanksgiving. Malpeques are wasted in oyster stew.
            We'll be lucky to see 25,000 bushels from the MD harvest this year. The demand will be met with oysters from other states, mostly from the Gulf, because they are similar to the Chincotegues that people prefer. They can't be farming the million plus bushels of that harvest, can they?
            Prices are high for Chincoteagues because of the decline but people are still paying it because it's part of this area's food heritage. It's the oyster they love. You prefer others. I don't see a problem here other than not enough oysters.

            1. re: MakingSense

              Point taken...as I tried to communicate in my other (vanished) posts, I was only speaking of oysters one would find served raw in local restaurants, and all of the oysters I have seen served locally in the places I have been are farm-raised and/or tray cultured (in almost all cases in non-Chesapeake waters). I am fully aware that this only represents a small fraction of the oysters consumed in the U.S. I should have been more specific as the conversation continued and meandered through topics of aquaculture, fisheries science, environmental issues, and even some food.

              But this line of thinking brings me back to food... to another matter which I should address in another main post shortly...called "downscale" seafood. Don't want to again take the OP's well-intentioned post off track...

              1. re: Lowbar

                Actually what it goes back to is that the poster who wrote about their instructor discouraging people from buying oysters at the Maine Ave. Wharf is without merit.

            2. re: kabrown

              If I thought Hank's compared favorably or was a better value, I would have recommended it over the other two.

              1. re: Lowbar

                Hank's is a much better value during HH

                1. re: jpschust

                  A better value than Hank's the rest of the time maybe.

                  I'm a big fan of Island Creek oysters, I usually get a dozen of them and a mixed dozen of others. When I was dragged into Hank's for their oyster HH last month by a friend who couldn't believe such an outstanding value existed in DC, I learned the following:

                  1) it is only an hour long
                  2) they do offer Island Creek oysters, but the Island Creek's were still 2 bucks, they had only three varieties for a buck, only one of which was good in my opinion.

                  Compare this to any of six varieties at Old Ebbitt for a buck for an extended happy hourS, and they almost always have Island Creek.

                  I don't know what it is about Hank's. Everyone seems to enjoy it but I have just never liked it. The food is fine, the oyster service is fine, but something about it just rubs me the wrong way.

              2. re: kabrown

                We had a great experience at Hank's. The oysters were perfect. Service was decent and other (cooked) menu items were very good. If you don't mind cramped seating, you're good to go.

              3. Black Salt, on MacArthur. Always an outstanding selection

                1. I wasn't a fan of the service at hanks last time I was there, but I'm going to give it another shot- the oysters were among the best I've had in DC.

                  1. Old Ebbit does a half price raw bar from 4-7 (I believe) and 11pm-close on weekdays. You can even get the Orcha Platter, which normally is $100 for half price!

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: JAC13

                      Call to ask about the happy hour specials, I can never remember them exactly, I think it is Mon-Thurs 3-6 and 11-close. Old Ebbitt typically has 6-7 varieties available, always fresh and properly shucked. You will be hard pressed to find a better oyster value in DC. The happy hour at Sea Catch is also quite good.

                      1. re: Lowbar

                        Any further updated details on oyster happy hours in the DC area? I have found that a lot of them have been disappearing the last few years or so. Used to be able to get some good ones In Alexandria but they are more limited now. Anyone have any recommendations on (raw) oyster specials locally? Not terribly concerned with high end service or such. Just looking to sit at the bar and eat a few dozen with a beer.

                        1. re: Insidious Rex

                          Wow, resurrecting an old thread!

                          Clyde's locations still have raw bar happy hours - half price, hours vary by location. I also like Sea Catch in Georgetown - I think they still have $1 HH oysters.

                          1. re: Insidious Rex

                            Black Salt also has oysters at their HH for a buck a piece. The variety offered differs from day to day but the HH is 4-7 every day.

                      2. Kinkeads in Foggy Bottom & DC Coast 15th St NW - both high end but very good

                        1. The $1 deal at SeaCatch sounds real nice, and Old Ebit for happy hour. Any other places with good happy hour deals with a nice selections? Dupont/Union Station/Cap Hill/Adam's Morgan etc. Thanks

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: RobertM

                            Even though I just dissed the place earlier in this thread...if you are in Dupont, Hank's has a few varieties available at happy hour (5:30-6:30 I think) for a buck, and for all my poorly defined dislike of the place, if I worked or lived within a few blocks I would probably learn to like it, and learn to get out of work at 5:30 rather than lingering around until...what...10:15 now putzing around on chowhound while theoretically trying to finish a proposal which will ultimatley lose anyway.

                          2. Oysters at Oceanaire were pretty good the last time i was there

                            1. Cyldes in Chinatown/Gallery Place has the Oyster happy hour on Sunday from 3-7.

                              1. The Village Bistro, a greatly underrated restaurant on Wilson Boulevard in Arlington, has the best oysters I've had in DC for a long time. The first time we had them, my wife and I started talking about the best oyster po-boys we'd had in New Orleans. They're an appetizer or small plate size, but you can always order more. Unfortunately, they're not always on the menu.

                                1. Does anyone know if all the clyde's locations have oyster happy hours? How about McCormick & Schmicks?

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: joth68

                                    Not all. The Clyde's in Mark Center and Gallery Place both do. Pretty sure Tower Oaks lodge also does. Not sure all Clyde's locations even have raw bars...I don't recall seeing one in Tysons or Reston locations, but I didn't look very hard.

                                    No idea on M&S.

                                  2. Oooh, I definitely like the oysters/happy hour at Old Ebbitt. I totally go along with the previous recommenders on that one. ...not my favorite for full entrees, but oysters and happy hour - they've got down.

                                    1. I 2nd Hanks...Being a New England girl I love everything about Hank's. Their oyster selection is very good but even better is their lobster roll. And even though it's a chain, I tend to stop by Legal Seafood every once in awhile for a ceasar salad and 1/2 a dozen oysters before a movie on the weekends. Sit at the bar and enjoy a Sam Adams

                                      1. Not a restaurant, but for seriously local oysters, try out [url=http://www.oysterranching.com/]Circle C Oysters[/url] which grow their oysters sustainably in the Chesapeake . They can be ordered online, or purchased at several local farmers markets, including the one in Cheverly, MD.

                                        1. I recall having some excellent oysters at the Tabard Inn
                                          They have exclusive oysters shipped from Maine exclusively for Tabard inn