Johnny's Half Shell
400 N. Capitol St., NW
Washington, DC 20001
Neighborhood: Capitol Hill
Cuisines: Seafood, Southern, Modern, American
Monday through Friday for lunch and dinner, Saturday for dinner.
Nearby Metro Stops: Union Station
Price Range: Expensive
Noise Level: Chatty
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.
Scene: Outdoor Seating
Happy Hour Details:
Monday through Friday, 4:30 PM to 7:30 PM; $5.50 drafts, $8 cocktails, discounts on select seafood items.
Happy Hour Days: Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays
Cuisine: The Big Easy and the Chesapeake both get their due at this classics-with-a-twist fishhouse/saloon, the creation of James Beard Award–winning chef Ann Cashion. So do fine dining and humble plates, from one of the better caviar deals in town—$19 for a jar of red and black with blini and crème fraîche—to a roast-beef po’ boy on a Leidenheimer roll evoking the famed sandwich at Mother’s in New Orleans.
Mood: A couple of years after moving from its quirky Dupont Circle digs to larger, less personal quarters on Capitol Hill, Johnny’s has the look of a place that’s been around forever. The bar, with retro floor tiles and boisterous talk, impersonates a New Orleans watering hole. A jazz trio plays weekend nights, and a piano player holds forth at lunchtime during the week.
Best for: A seafood fix or a respite from the experimental cooking at many of the city’s new dining rooms.
Best dishes: Fried oysters with tart relish; crunchy fritto misto with fried green tomatoes; barbecue crabs (in season); crab cake with slaw and French fries; lobster with drawn butter; at lunch, fried-seafood po’ boy, roast-beef po’ boy, and hot dog with bleu cheese and pickled onions; burger sliders with zippy pimiento cheese at the bar.
Insider tips: Some of the best eating and values are at breakfast (grillades and grits), lunch, and at the bar—happy hour from 4:30 to 7:30 weekdays is big with the congressional crowd.
Open Monday through Friday for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Saturday for dinner. Moderate.