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Feb 13, 2007 08:29 AM

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. 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 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