It's rare to find a restaurant where everything seems exactly right, but business partners Ann Cashion and John Fulchino have created just such a place in this popular Dupont Circle seafood house. The modest but attractive room, the lively bar, an interesting menu limited to what the kitchen can handle with confidence, friendly and efficient service–it all comes together to make Johnny's one of the city's favorite restaurants.
The only problem with the menu is deciding which favorite to order. At lunch, the toss of the coin usually goes to the fried-oyster po'boy, crisply fried oysters on bread flown in from Leidenheimer's Bakery in New Orleans. At dinner, it's hard to resist starting with the dark and spicy New Orleansstyle gumbo, but the barbecued shrimp on grits is a close second. There are also near-definitive versions of Chesapeake Bay classics, including crabcakes and crab imperial. For dessert, save room for either Cashion's signature chocolate angelfood cake with caramel sauce or the tart and delicious lemon chess pie.
Johnny's Half Shell, 2002 P St., NW; 202-296-2021; johnnyshalfshell.net. Open Monday through Saturday for lunch and dinner.