Shuck yeah! Where to eat oysters in the DC area

Where to eat fresh oysters in the DC area

Salty, briny, sweet, raw or fried. However you prefer your oysters, there are a variety of restaurants in the D.C. area to choose from. And with the Chesapeake Bay’s booming oyster population, there’s so much to enjoy — and so many local happy hour specials to take advantage of for the best prices.

Here is WTOP’s list of some of the most noteworthy eateries worth venturing to for shucking the best oysters in the region. Dive in!

DC

  • Since 1939, Jessie Taylor Seafood has served the freshest seafood at the Municipal Fish Market at The Wharf. Nicholas Evans, product manager at Jessie Taylor Seafood, told WTOP that the family-run business offers oysters from the Chesapeake Bay and the Chincoteague, served raw, steamed or fried.
  • The historic Old Ebbitt Grill has a daily happy hour dedicated to oysters from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. and from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. with a half-dozen costing $14.99 and a dozen costing $26.99.
  • Whether you prefer oysters that are fried, wood-grilled, simply raw or in another preparation, Pearl Dive Oyster Palace is a popular go-to local location. The restaurant hosts “Oystermania” every Monday with a chef’s selection oyster list that is half off. At the bar, there is also a happy hour offered on weekdays with half-priced local oysters, costing $1.40 each (with a minimum order of a dozen).
  • Whether you’re in D.C., Maryland, or Virginia, all locations of King Street Oyster Bar offer a daily happy hour menu for oysters from 3 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. In the NoMa location, oysters are priced at $1.75 in increments of three. During the NCAA tournament Sweet 16 games in March, oysters are also being offered for $1 each.
  • Enjoy a waterfront location of oyster shucking at The Wharf’s Rappahannock Oyster Bar. The restaurant serves a wide selection of shellfish with a raw bar that has oysters priced at $2.75 each. There are also menu items like a po’boy fried oyster sandwich, charbroiled oysters and seafood towers with scallops, clams, shrimp and other seafood included.
  • The Salt Line has three D.C.-area locations: one in Bethesda, Maryland, another in Ballston, Virginia, and finally one in the Navy Yard neighborhood in D.C. proper. Happy hour spans from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Mondays through Thursdays, and from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Fridays. During this time, all local oysters are half off, and “baked dancing molly oysters” in the Rockefeller style are $15. The Salt Line also offers seafood towers in two sizes: The Kraken at $145 for two to three people and The Leviathan at $195 for four to six people. Another notable menu item is the “Dancing Molly” exclusive house oyster, which is sustainably sourced from St. Michaels, Maryland.
  • With multiple locations across the D.C. area, Hank’s Oyster Bar offers a rotating selection of freshly-shucked East Coast oysters. During happy hour (at the bar only), the restaurant offers oysters for $2.50 each, though happy hour days and hours may differ depending on location. Hank’s also has a “proprietary oyster,” called the Salty Wolfe, that is cultivated and harvested by War Shore Oyster Company near Chincoteague Island in Virginia.
  • Amparo Fondita near Dupont Circle offers oysters on the half shell with a rotating selection based on the market. On the dinner menu, oysters on the half shell are offered at $24 for a half dozen or $42 for a dozen with a “mignonette negra” that is a mix of lime juice, Maggi, soy sauce, serrano peppers and shallots. There is also a fried oyster special with oysters dredged in masa, flash fried and served in handmade Mexican corn tortillas with a side of guacamole, achiote mayo and a citrus and habanero Mayan-style salsa.
  • If you find yourself at Le Diplomate, don’t miss out on the many seafood options served here. On the menu, a half-dozen Belon oysters are served at $26, while a half-dozen assorted oysters are served at $23. The two options for seafood towers are the Petit Plateau at $115 for one to three people and the Grand Plateau at $185 for four to six people.
  • The raw bar menu at New Orleans-style restaurant Dauphine’s has a whole section dedicated to oysters. The selections may change daily, with varying prices. There is also a seafood tower, called the Grand Plateaux, with oysters, shrimp, clams, a lobster tail and more priced at $125.
  • The oysters served in the raw bar at Café Riggs, which is nestled on the ground floor of the Riggs Hotel, are priced at $20 for a half-dozen and $36 for a dozen. There are several other options for those craving a ton of seafood, but if you’re in search of a seafood tower (with oysters included, of course), there is the Petit Plateau for $50 and the Riggs Plateau for $90 on the dinner menu.
  • In the Fabio Trabocchi Restaurants group, Del Mar at The Wharf and Fiola Mare in Georgetown are well-known for their luxe seafood options. At Del Mar, a few specials offered include the oysters escabeche with a Spanish saffron and orange pickle sauce and the oysters a la gallega with smoked paprika and extra virgin oil.

Maryland

  • If you’re in Baltimore, Maryland, seek out the Thames Street Oyster House for some of the best mid-Atlantic seafood. At the raw bar, the restaurant serves at least 10 different types of oysters on a daily basis. With an often-changing menu, Thames Street generally includes oysters in several preparations, such as fried oysters, oyster stew, grilled oysters and oysters Rockefeller. Shellfish towers are also offered.
  • Bethesda’s Black’s Bar & Kitchen is a seafood spot worth searching for. The prices for the oysters on the half shell vary from $18 for a half dozen and $36 for a dozen for premium oysters, or $15 for a half dozen or $30 for a dozen for “boutique” oysters. The local eatery also offers Oysters Rockefeller and fried oysters.
  • Be prepared for shucking to your heart’s content at The Walrus Oyster & Ale House. Located at National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland, the restaurant has a local wild oyster tray for $14 for a half dozen or $28 for a dozen. Otherwise, oysters are priced at $3 each or $36 for a chef’s dozen. This restaurant may have some of the biggest selections of sweet, briny and salty oysters on this list, but be sure to ask your server about the updated list of featured oysters and featured mignonette.
  • Boatyard Bar & Grill has some of the best crab cakes and crab soup in Annapolis, Maryland, but guests shouldn’t miss the oyster selection, which changes on the daily. Boatyard also offers two seafood towers, costing $99 for a two-tier tower and $140 for a three-tier tower.

Virginia

  • Freddy Lopez, the general manager and managing partner of Vola’s Dockside Grill in Old Town Alexandria told WTOP that the restaurant has oysters that are both local and sourced out of the state. From Monday through Friday, the bar also has a happy hour menu with discounted $2 oysters.
  • Another option in Alexandria, Virginia, is Whiskey & Oyster, which serves oysters fried, grilled, Rockefeller style, in gumbo and, of course, raw.
  • In Vienna, Virginia, Bear Branch Tavern offers fresh, sustainably-farmed oysters every day of the week. Every Tuesday, the restaurant serves $1 Cannon Cove oysters in increments of six, starting at 4 p.m.

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Michelle Goldchain

Michelle Goldchain’s reporting has focused primarily on the D.C. area, previously working as Editor of Curbed DC for Vox Media and Audience Growth & Engagement Editor for Washington City Paper. She is the author of "D.C. by Metro: A History & Guide.” She also reports for Artsplained on YouTube.

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