100 Best Restaurants 2011: Johnny's Half Shell
Comments () | Published January 20, 2011
100 Best Restaurants 2012 100 Best Restaurants (2011) First Look 100 Best Restaurants (2010)

Johnny's Half Shell
Address: 400 N. Capitol St., NW, Washington, DC 20001
Phone: 202-737-0400
Neighborhood: Capitol Hill
Cuisines: An example of a traditional Southern meal is deep fried chicken, field peas, turnip greens, cornbread, sweet tea and a dessert that could be a pie (sweet potato, pecan and peach are traditional southern pies), or a cobbler (peach, blackberry or mixed berry are traditional cobblers)., Seafood, Modern, American
Opening Hours: Open for lunch Monday through Friday from 11:30 AM to 2:30 PM. Open for dinner Monday through Saturday from 5 to 10 PM. Closed on Sunday.
Nearby Metro Stops: Union Station
Price Range: Moderate
Dress: Upscale Casual
Noise Level: Chatty
Reservations: Recommended
Best Dishes Roasted-beet-and-cucumber salad with smoked sturgeon and a caviar parfait; charbroiled Chesapeake oysters; made-to-order oyster stew; gumbo; Maryland crabcakes; lobster with drawn butter and fresh shell beans; coconut cream pie.
Price Details: Entrees, $17.95 to $27.95.

Only the top 40 restaurants were ranked in 2011's Best Restaurants list.

No single thing keeps us coming back to this Capitol Hill haunt—many things do: the tiled floors, reminiscent of an old-time New York oyster bar; the energy of the bar at happy hour, where both sides of the political aisle come to blow off steam; the impromptu party on Friday nights in the summer, when a jazz trio commands the covered patio.

Johnny’s is a reminder of what restaurants used to be before chefs became celebrities. The menu, devoted to seafood dishes from the Chesapeake to the Gulf, rarely changes. The gumbo (chef and co-owner Ann Cashion is a Mississippi native) is dark as night, the crabcakes (small but carefully made) are as good as any in the area, and the roasted lobster amounts to a trip to Maine in summer.

The richness of the food may lead diners to skip dessert, but that would be a mistake. The homestyle pies and cakes are a rebuke to trendy restaurant desserts. The same could be said of this winning throwback.

Also good: Spicy barbecue shrimp with grits; roasted-beet-and-cucumber salad; fried oysters; crab imperial; barbecue crabs (in late summer); banana-coconut cream pie.

Open Monday through Friday for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Saturday for dinner. Expensive.

>> See all of 2011's Best Restaurants

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Posted at 12:00 AM/ET, 01/20/2011 RSS | Print | Permalink | Washingtonian.com Restaurant Reviews