Food & Drink

DC's Best Oyster Happy Hours by Neighborhood

Published On 09/06/2016 Published On 09/06/2016
Urbana
Oysters from Urbana | Courtesy of Urbana

Elegant raw bars chock-full of fresh oysters are ubiquitous in this town; the city’s proximity to the Chesapeake Bay provides us with some of the richest, most buttery oysters on the east coast. But feasting on these local treats can get expensive, given that some places charge anywhere from $2 to more than $3 a pop… which doesn't sound too bad, until you remember that you're, you know, ordering them by the dozen. Luckily, some of DC's finest oysters get seriously discounted at happy hour. You just have to know where to look. We rounded up the very best happy hours in some of DC’s most popular neighborhoods, so oyster night doesn't have to fall on payday.

Georgetown

Sea Catch Restaurant

Address and Info

It’s hard to keep a secret in a neighborhood as busy as Georgetown, but Sea Catch -- and its old-school DC vibe -- has managed to stay under the radar for decades. The restaurant offers $1 raw oysters and half-priced drinks at the bar during happy hour, which runs Monday through Friday from 5 to 7pm. This is the place to be for anyone looking to enjoy some oysters in a smart setting where it’s easy to have a conversation without shouting -- not the easiest quality to find in DC restaurants these days.

Logan Circle

Black Jack

Address and Info

Located above Pearl Dive Oyster Palace, Black Jack offers two-for-one oysters during happy hour, and they’re some of the freshest around -- all you'll want, dressing-wise, is a squeeze of lemon. Plus, there's an indoor bocce court, so once you fill up on half-priced bivalves, you can grab an Abita and hit the games.

Courtesy of Urbana

Dupont Circle

Urbana

Address and Info

Don’t overlook Urbana for raw bar specials -- happy hour at this chic hotel bar inside the Hotel Palomar offers $1 oysters along with a menu of other Italian snacks and drinks, like $7 cocktails and $8 grilled calamari. So grab an Aperol spritz and get to it.

Shaw

Eat the Rich

Address and Info

Mixologist Derek Brown’s heavy metal-tinged raw bar recently launched a "Brine Time" happy hour, featuring savory and salty cocktails for $9 a pop, paired with buttery Rappahannock River Oysters for $1 each. Specials run Monday through Saturday from 5-7pm, and all day Sunday. We'd recommend going for an "oyster back" -- an oyster, a shot of rye, and pickle brine, $6 for the set.

Capitol Hill (& other locations)

Hank's Oyster Bar

Address and Info

Elbow past the lobbyists and lawmakers to grab a spot at the bar, where select oysters are $1.25 each from 3 to 7pm Monday through Saturday, and from 3pm to close on Sundays. Pair these with their $4-5 wine, punch, and beer. Check out their regular menu, too -- especially the lobster roll with Old Bay fries and the New England-style clam chowder. The proximity to Eastern Market and Barracks Row make it a good midday stop, as well.

Courtesy of Clyde's Restaurant Group

Downtown

Old Ebbitt Grill

Address and Info

Yes, Old Ebbitt Grill is a huge tourist draw, thanks to its status as the oldest restaurant in the city. That doesn’t mean locals should ignore it -- especially when it comes to fresh oysters and a cold beer. The back bar is a great place to hang out during happy hour, when all oysters are half off, and there are plenty of choose from. There’s always plenty of space, so groups will be happy here. The best part is that the deal runs seven days a week from 3 to 6pm, then again from 11pm to 1am (and 2am on the weekends).

Adams Morgan

Pop's SeaBar

Address and Info

The small patio at Pop's is ideal for people watching and a great spot to slurp back a few happy-hour oysters. Select oysters are just $1 Monday through Friday from 3:30 to 6:30pm, as well as from midnight to close Friday and Saturday. Take advantage of $3 Tecate tallboys and $2 Natty Bohs as well... or try an Orange Crush cocktail that will make any Marylander proud.

The Grilled Oyster Company

Cathedral Heights

The Grilled Oyster Company

Address and Info

This area of DC is starting to up its restaurant game, and The Grilled Oyster Company in Cathedral Heights is one of the newest additions. During happy hour, snag oysters on the half shell for $1.50 each from 3:30 to 6:45pm (yes, it's pretty oddly specific) from Monday through Friday. Check the restaurant’s chalkboard for daily specials, and try to grab a spot on the sidewalk, which affords great people-watching opportunities. The bar offers tons of wines, local beers, and Bay punch for $5 then, too. Be warned, however: the neighborhood skews a bit toward young families, so don’t go here expecting a buzzy vibe or a kid-free zone.

NoMa

Rappahannock Oyster Bar

Address and Info

The DC outpost of this Chesapeake Bay oyster operation has happy hour Tuesday through Friday from 4 to 7pm at its bar inside bustling Union Market. While getting a table can be tough, deals at the sleek bar include half-priced raw oysters and clams, with a minimum order of six. Wash them back with $4 beers and glasses of wine.

Wayne E. Chinnock Photography

Silver Spring

All Set

Address and Info

Evoking the vibes -- as well as the bright blue-and-white decor -- of a classic New England seafood hangout (cocktails include the Fenway Park, the Provincetown, and the HIHOWAYA), All Set is another restaurant offering both regular and late-night happy-hour menus. Oysters are a buck each from 3 to 7pm Monday through Thursday, 3 to 6:30pm Friday and Saturday, and Sunday from 3pm to close. Late-night specials happen from 10 onward on Friday and Saturday. There are cocktails for $5 and a daily punch for $7 a glass.

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Travis Mitchell is a freelance writer for Thrillist Food & Drink who has been exploring and writing about DC bars and restaurants since 2007. Follow @travisjmitchell on Twitter and Instagram.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
1. Sea Catch Restaurant & Raw Bar 1054 31st St NW, Washington, 20007 (Georgetown)

Housed in Georgetown's historic Canal Square Building, Sea Catch serves up some of the finest seafood in town -- with a side of beautiful C&O Canal views. You can nosh on locally caught oysters, lump Chesapeake Bay crab cakes, and fresh Maine lobster here, all while cozying up next to a stone fireplace in the winter or with a cocktail in your hand on the outdoor deck in the summer. It always features a happy hour with oyster and drink specials, too.

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2. Pearl Dive Oyster Palace and Black Jack 1612 14th St NW, Washington DC, DC 20005 (Logan Circle)

Who says you can't play bocce while shooting oysters and sipping seasonal craft cocktails? Enjoy the Southern hospitality and the rustic, ancient mariner-inspired interior, while the chef shucks the best mollusks the East and West Coasts have to offer. They also have a solid happy hour with vodka martinis and a wine list with plenty of bottles that'll pair just right with your shelled snacks.

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3. Urbana 2121 P St NW , Washington, DC, DC 20037 (Dupont Circle)

With a swanky lounge vibe, Urbana offers a classic Italian menu from Chef Ethan McKee that features artisan pastas, fresh-caught seafood, and locally grown vegetables. You can't go wrong with the bucatini with jumbo lump crab or the diver scallops. The cocktail program as Urbana is just as classic and quality, brimming with Italian liqueurs and house-made ingredients, plus a happy hour that never disappoints.

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4. Eat The Rich 1839 7th St NW, Washington, D.C., 20001

Oysters and a rock-and-roll soundtrack are iconic aspects of this Shaw raw bar and seafood spot from mixologist and restaurateur Derek Brown. The space is narrow and brick-walled, with a cozy, earthy atmosphere ideal for indulging in the “Locals Only!” $1 oysters-centric happy hour. Plus: oyster shooters, y'all.

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5. Hank's Oyster Bar 1624 Q St NW, Washington, 20009 (Dupont Circle)

Get a taste of New England at this Dupont Circle seafood spot (they also have locations on the Hill and in Alexandria). The kitchen in this bright, modern space is dishing out some of the best clams, lobster rolls, and raw bar bites in town, plus some solid daily specials that range from jumbo soft-shell crab to pan-seared scallops. Oh, and did I mention they have bottomless brunch, too?

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6. Old Ebbitt Grill 675 15th St NW, Washington, DC 20005 (Downtown)

Depending on your tastes, it will either be extremely appealing or off-putting that the Old Ebbitt Grill is the oldest saloon in Washington, once frequented by Presidents Grant, Cleveland, Roosevelt, and McKinley. Just steps away from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Old Ebbitt’s Beaux-Arts façade begs you to enter for a cocktail, while its mahogany and velvet booths and bars set in marble, brass, and beveled glass implore you to stay for a few more as you imagine what kind of political secrets and scandals were shared here. As you’re doing your best Woodward and Bernstein impressions, munch on breakfast, lunch, brunch (if you’re there on a weekend), or dinner. The menus certainly have a Southern slant (chicken and waffles, crab cakes, shrimp and grits), though you can also opt for house-made cannelloni, pappardelle, and ravioli or flash-fried swordfish tacos.

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7. Pop's SeaBar 1817 Columbia Rd NW, Washington, DC 20009 (Adams Morgan)

This casual Adams Morgan seafood bar from the people behind Cashion's Eat Place offers great food and drinks, including a fried oyster sandwich and peel 'n' eat shrimp.

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8. The Grilled Oyster Company 3701 Newark St NW, Washington, 20016 (Cathedral Heights)

The blue panels of glass in the windows of this sleek Cathedral Heights restaurant douse the whole place in blue light that makes it feel as if you were underwater -- appropriate for an eatery serving entirely seafood. Here, fish, crab, lobster, oysters, and the like come every way possible, from the starters of lobster bisque soup and calamari salad, to the big entree plates of seared Chesapeake rockfish and clam- and mussel-laden linguini.

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9. Rappahanock Oyster Bar 1309 5th St NE, Washington, 20002 (Noma)

This Union Market outpost is run by Rappahannock Oyster Company, so you can expect insanely fresh seafood -- especially shellfish -- from the Chesapeake Bay. Initially staffed exclusively by the spot's oyster farmers themselves, the gastrobar now maintains a server-team of well-educated oyster-mongers, fully prepared to talk you through the production and consumption of the slimy shellfish delicacy. While the kitchen offers tasty small plates and entrees like citrus-cured salmon roe or tuna tartare over fresh beets and sliced orange, you'd be remiss to skip out on the oysters -- served grilled in smoked-jalapeño-butter, raw on the half shell, or arranged in a perfectly-curated sampling plate. The beer and wine lists are impressive in length, the cocktail program is creative and well-rounded, and the historic spot offers a week-day happy hour for oysters and drinks.

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10. All Set Restaurant & Bar 8630 Fenton St, Silver Spring, MD 20910 (Silver Spring)

A whimsically nautical yet romantic Downtown Silver Spring spot, All Set boasts a dinner menu with a raw bar, top picks of fish caught that day, and a slew of other dishes sure to please the non-fish eaters. Alongside shareable oyster platters, lobster rolls, and crab cakes, this eatery and bar serves up a surprisingly diverse set of chicken dishes, steaks, and barbecue baby back ribs. Meanwhile, the bar is slinging dozens of citrusy cocktails, draft beers, and white wines.

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