While anytime is a good time to eat oysters, the BEST time happens to be fall, when they’re in peak season and places all over the DMV are deep with fresh, briny bivalves. Here’s your guide to getting your oyster on this season (not to be confused with a guide to getting it on, which oysters may or may not help with, depending on who you choose to believe).
Obviously there are plenty of good excuses to get yourself to Union Market. Here’s another one: at happy hour, these bivalves are a bargain -- $1 each every Tuesday through Friday from 4-7pm.
Blackwall Hitch is one of the latest seafood outposts to open on the Alexandria waterfront. You’ll find Potomac views, live music nightly, and eastern oysters from the Chesapeake Bay for $3.25 apiece.
Chef Kyle Bailey uses Eagle Flat oysters from Anderson’s Neck in Virginia. He shucks oysters and combines them with seared Atlantic hake and chopped vegetables to make a Belgian stew, called waterzooi, which doubles as one of the most fun things you’ll order in DC this fall.
The happy hour at Pearl Dive Oyster Palace and upstairs at Black Jack is called “oyster mania.” Every Monday night at Pearl Dive and Tuesday night at Black Jack, oysters are half price. And, oyster hot plates go for $7 each.
Eat the Rich’s Derek Brown and Travis Croxton feature Rappahannock oysters alongside pitcher cocktails and oyster shooters. The “Locals Only!” happy hour is every Tuesday to Friday from 5-7pm with $1 oysters. And for October, the restaurant is serving broiled oysters with knockwurst, tarragon, and pickled cabbage.
Slurp down oysters from Sewansecott Clams & Oysters in Hog Island Bay, Virginia, at Joe’s Seafood. The price per half-dozen is $16.50, but during happy hour (2:30-6:30pm daily) oysters are half off, perfect for those Sundays when your football team is being blown out and you need to drown your sorrows in shellfish.
The Capitol Hill crowd heads to Johnny’s Half Shell at happy hour (4:30 to 7:30pm daily) for specials on local oysters. A half-dozen are served for $12, down from $2.50 apiece during normal non-happy hours. If you’re math-challenged, that’s a deal!
The late-night menu (after 10pm) is a prime opportunity to try local oysters at Hank’s. The bar serves up fried oyster po-boys, half-off oysters on the half shell, and sake oyster shooters. And, during happy hour, (Monday to Friday, 3-7pm) oysters are half off. Basically, if you’re here, there is a good chance you’re getting a deal on some oysters.
Chef Edward Lee’s first foray into DC not only gives you a taste of Kentucky, but also the briny flavors of the Chesapeake Bay. The restaurant sources from Rappahannock Oyster Company and oysters are $15 per half-dozen and $1.50 each during happy hour (Monday to Friday, 4-7pm).
During the month of October, Brine, is serving oysters from 3:30-6:30pm at the steeply discounted rate of 75 cents, and the owner boasts four generations of oyster experience, so you know he knows what he’s doing.
Jeff Black’s Republic serves local Chesapeake Bay oysters on the half shell for $1 every Monday to Friday from 3-7pm. It’s a deal that you can wash down with a local beer for $3. Put them together and that’s a beer and a half dozen oysters for less than a Hamilton. Again, math!
1. Rappahanock Oyster Bar1309 5th St NE, Washington
2. Blackwall Hitch5 Cameron St, Alexandria
3. Pearl Dive Oyster Palace and Black Jack1612 14th St NW, Washington DC
4. Eat The Rich1839 7th St NW, Washington, D.C.
5. Joe's Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab750 15th St NW, Washington
6. Johnny's Half Shell400 N Capitol St NW, Washington
7. Hank's Bar And Lounge1624 Q Street Northwest, Washington, DC
8. Succotash186 Waterfront St, National Harbor
9. Brine2985 District Ave, Fairfax
10. Republic6939 Laurel Ave, Takoma Park
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.
If there’s one word to describe Blackwall Hitch, it’s handsome. Every detail of the space, starting with the water from the crow’s nest to the Led Zeppelin lyrics tattooed on the wall, contributes to making this a spot you want to spend plenty of time in. Especially when food and drink happy hour specials are so substantial. Buffalo shrimp tacos, fried green tomatoes, pan-seared scallops and calamari are all $6. And you'll be keen to pair them with $3 domestic drafts, $4 craft drafts, $5 glasses of wine, and $4 rail cocktails.
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.
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.
Joe’s takes steak and wine pairings very seriously, specializes in some of the best surf and turf around. The swanky space has two floors, with sky high ceilings, marble pillars, and an abundance of dark wood. The restaurant was made famous for serving hand-harvested Florida stone crab claws, served chilled over mustard, and enjoyed best with side dishes such as hashed brown potatoes and creamed spinach.
This Capitol Hill seafood spot is a longtime politician-favorite. The restaurant focuses on Chesapeake and Gulf Coast seafood, and prides itself on using only organic produce, poultry, meat and sustainable seafood.
Because there's apparently been no dip in the market for bivalves that give you Berlusconi-like wang-thusiasm, Hank's is expanding with a spanking (hey now!) new bar and lounge doubling the size of the Dupont standby, and boasting a Corian marble bar, large skylights, and a private, cabin-like upstairs "yacht room", aka what T-Pain tells his tailor to leave in pants, as dude's gotta dance.
Celebrity Chef Edward Lee’s National Harbor restaurant is now open and serving classic southern fare. Swing by their 4-7pm happy hour for drafts and wines by the glass, plus some mighty fine cocktails like a pitcher of “Belle’s Punch” for $25 or $5 milk punch made boozy with bourbon, rum, Averna, Carpano Antica and Creole bitters.
Their oyster happy hour features oysters for under $1!
This Takoma Park restaurant uses seasonal ingredients to build an American style menu in a refined bistro style setting. The menu is pretty seafood heavy, including a daily rotating selection of raw bar options and entrees featuring rockfish and crab. There is also a daily vegan special, called the "All Veggie Everything" and some killer housemade cocktails.