Kitchen Favorites: Jamie Leeds of Hank’s Oyster Bar

Chef Jamie Leeds moved to DC five and a half years ago, and was soon winning raves for the comfort food she turned out at downtown restaurant 15 Ria. In 2005, she struck out on her own and opened Hank’s Oyster Bar (1624 Q St., NW; 202-462-4265; a tiny, casual dining room near Dupont Circle named after her father, a fisherman. The Columbia Heights resident loves oysters all year long–she says the “months ending in R” rule is antiquated: “They’re mostly farmed in the summer, and cycles are watched closely. I think they taste good all the time!” Here, she shares her favorite ways to eat ‘em– plus talks about other summer treats. 

Favorite way to eat oysters: Slurp it! And I like mignonette sauce.

Favorite kind of oyster right now
: Island Creeks from Massachusetts.

Favorite summer dish
: I really like fresh tomatoes, chopped up with basil and a summer salad of corn and mozzarella.

Favorite beach boardwalk snack: Margaritas? We always bring lunch—really good Italian sandiwches are nice for the beach.

Favorite dish on Hank’s current menu
: The barbecue oysters. They’re from a farm on the West coast called Hog Island. Barbecue refers to how they’re cooked–not a sauce. It’s real light, with butter, lemon, tabasco, and bread crumbs.

Favorite local restaurant (besides your own): Sushi-ko. Love the soft-shell crabs and fatty tuna.

Favorite summer drink: It’s called a Blue Point Slush, a new drink on Hank’s menu. It’s made with crushed ice, blueberries muddled with a lime syrup, and blueberry vodka.

Favorite ice cream
: I love Haagen Dazs coffee. We also like hand-dipped ice cream from Max’s Best. I always get coffee there too.

Favorite thing to grill
: Steaks—bone-in ribeyes. I usually serve them with a chimichurri sauce. I love that combo.

Favorite brand of hot sauce
: A Korean hot sauce that they have at Mandu, down the street.

Favorite dish to make
: I really love preparing rustic Italian dishes, like suckling pig and whole lamb. This town needs a good Italian place.

Favorite way to relax after work
: Hang out with my family, play with my son. He comes in to the restaurant a lot. He likes to play with the lobsters.