HOME > Chowhound > Washington DC & Baltimore >


Hank's Oyster Bar - Dupont Circle

Has anyone been? Is it any good? I'm hoping to go around 9:30 tonight. Is it usually packed at that time? They don't take reservations and I'm not sure I want to wait for a table at 9:30 at night.


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. its very good, but it is very small, you should be prepared to wait, though 9:30 on a Friday might just miss the big crowd.

    1. Hank's Oyster Bar is one of my favorite restaurants in the city. Their lobster roll is especially good as well as most of their fish specials (although their chicken schnitzel was delicious and HUGE. I had lunch for the next day).

      There might be a slight wait tonight but its looking kinda rainy and most people like to sit outside there so you might be ok. Certainly will be missing the dinner rush, so that's good.

      Sometimes I call ahead of time and say I'm walking over right now and see if they'll let me put my name in.

      1. definitely get the cheesy mac or mac and cheese or whatever they call it. its great.

        1 Reply
        1. re: jimmy123

          Yes...its a really good side. I also like their sesame snap peas...surprisingly good!

        2. I've only been once to have the oyster po boy. I thought it was well below average. I much prefer the same at Black Salt.

          6 Replies
          1. re: Steve

            OMG - The food is horrible, worst brunch and lunch in the city. On top of that, the service is NONEXISTANT! I have eaten here three different times with the exact same results...never again will I waste money at this horrific establishment.

            If you dont know good food, setting or money show up at 930

            1. re: ctp114

              Wow! That's the first review I've heard of Hank's like that. I have always had exstremly friendly service. They are knowledgable and personable. The food is wonderful. It's not overly complicated but what they do they do well. Just my opinion. But then again it's one of my favorite neighborhood restaurant. I think this is because I'm originally from Boston and something about it reminds me a little bit of home when I'm homesick.

              1. re: Elyssa

                We went for the first time last week and came away thinking that it's the sort of neighborhood spot that most neighborhoods would envy. Cf. 2 Amy's; Colorado Kitchen. Service was very accommodating, freindly, and efficient. There was a convivial neighborhood vibe -- everyone there seemed happy and relaxed. And some of the menu items, although not spectacular, were very well-executed versions of things that are often tired or ordinary these days. In particular: the kumamoto oysters; the caesar salad with great anchovies; the fried shrimp and calamari bucket; and the scallops. The sable special was good, not great.

                I'd definitely return at least a couple of times to get a better feel for the strengths of the menu.

                1. re: MartyL

                  The only thing I've had there that I didn't like was the fish and chips. I went a few weeks ago for brunch. First of the fish was HUGE...almost too big. Didn't leave room for the chips. And there was almost too much fried covering/breading...it was hard to get to the fish. But other then that..the fries were so good and everything else i've had there I've loved.

                2. re: Elyssa

                  Well, here's the second one. Every time I've gone, I've thought the servers must be stoned. Consistently terrible service. I always feel ignored. Ever been at a restaurant and had to go to the bar (twice) to get your own cutlery, then again for mustard you'd asked for twice?

                  Personally, I'm never going back there. Y'all can have it.

                  1. re: EricDC

                    I'm so surprised to hear this because I return so often because I like the staff so much. Given I usually sit in the same guys section and we get along really well. But there have been a half dozen times when I've been in other sections, even waitresses in training, and had good service.

                    Everyone has a different experience though.

                    Also I tend to not go there on weekends (its usually too busy).. That might have a lot to do with it.

            2. My experience there was underwhelming. It's not a place where I would tolerate a very long wait. My food was pretty bland. Maybe it was an off night, or what I ordered...but I haven't been able to convince myself to go back.

              1. Been a bunch of times, oysters are great, but why get oysters in the middle of summer? It's not really when they are at their best.

                1 Reply
                1. re: jpschust

                  I went last night and was completely underwhelmed by the tilefish special. Once you got to the fish, it was fine. But the skin was too crispy and the sides, especially the spaghetti squash and the parsnip puree were drenched in oil and butter. Though it has neighborhood charm, I won't be going back.

                2. Went there a couple of weeks back. Had the steak special. Big mistake. Service was bad. I wanted to like it....but oh, well.

                  1. I had a highly unfortunate and unpleasant experience at Hank's this week. To the kitchen's credit, the meal was fine, but the astonishingly bad service we received obliterated any redeeming qualities in the food.

                    I arrived with my elderly parents at about 5:25 pm--the restaurant opens at 5:30, and we thought we might be able to at least stand in the entry area to stay in from the cold while we waited the last couple of minutes. However, as soon as we opened the door and began to step in, a staff member (a thin Asian man) yelled "5 minutes!" from the back, and gestured to shoo us away. After a couple of minutes of waiting outside, we opened the door again to ask if we could at least wait right inside the door to stay warm (it was about 35F out). Another staff member (a tall heavier set white man--possibly the manager) curtly told us that the staff were still setting up and that we would have to wait until 5:30 sharp (which at this point would have been maybe a minute away; in addition, setup at all tables had been completed).

                    After we had stepped back out, I told my parents I was going to drop off mail at a nearby corner, and told them to get a table while I was away. I returned to see my parents walking away from the restaurant. They had gone inside once they had been allowed to, and asked for a table for three. The host (Asian man) who had earlier shooed us away had rudely and adamantly refused to seat them (despite my parents' explanation that I had just stepped away momentarily)--in an empty restaurant--citing the strict policy of not seating incomplete parties.

                    I decided to brush the incidents aside and return to the restaurant, since my parents were hungry and had been looking forward to a good seafood meal. Once we had been seated, we finally saw a glimpse of good service in our waitress (an Asian woman), who was courteous and professional. However, our bad experience with the two staff members we had previously interacted with continued on. The restaurant was still pretty much empty, and those two proceeded to chat while looking and loudly laughing in our direction. Not until later did I learn from my parents how badly the host had treated them.

                    I felt terrible for my parents, who had just arrived from a long flight from across the country and had been looking forward to a good meal--and who had also tried their best to brush aside the abuse from the staff and enjoy the meal. I also felt sorry for the waitress, who bore the brunt of making up for her colleagues' bad behavior.

                    This was not the first time I had had terrible service at Hank's. On another occasion, a waiter completely messed up my party's orders, and was unapologetic, slow, and even obnoxious about correcting his mistakes.

                    I feel bad for the owner and the kitchen (as well as the staff members who are actually good), because these bad experiences really do mar the restaurant. After giving Hank's a couple of second chances, I've decided it's not worth returning. From the first time I visited a couple of years ago, I had always recommended Hank's to friends and colleagues looking for a good place to eat, albeit with the caveat of the risk of bad service. Now, instead of a strong recommendation, I unfortunately have to start strongly advising against eating there. The risk of a horrible experience is not worth it.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: ajburbank97

                      What a shame! I can't comment on Hank's DC location because I've only gone to the Old Town locale near to me. I've always had a great experience all around. Did you ask to speak to a manager or get any intervention for your poor treatment? In other words, has Hank's management or owner been informed of your experience and have they been given a chance to respond and mitigate the damage before you posted here?


                      1. re: ajburbank97

                        I'm sorry to hear about your experience at Hank's. I live in then neighborhood and eat there probably once a month. I've always had friendly service, though I will admit that they tend to rush people through dinner a little more than I would like. Because they have such a small space they are always trying to get more turnover - hence they don't offer desserts rather just a quick bite of chocolate at the end of your meal.

                        1. re: ajburbank97

                          in defense of the service industry, i have to vouch for the restaurant a little. while i'm sorry that you had to suffer the discomfort... while it is their fault for leaving their door unlocked until 5:30pm. the 'not seating of incomplete parties' rule is one that i support heavily. where i work, we are constantly screwed. 2 people will come in telling us it's 5. they are sat, and 2 show up 45 minutes later. oops, it's only going to be 4. that is ONE round of customers and an extra table taken up. and what if it was 7 ppl that were actually only 4? and etc. Hank's is quite small, and they should not be blamed for that.

                        2. their braised short ribs... are AMAZING....