The Food: Seafood is the main event at this upscale dining room, which is part of a national chain. Consult the “fresh list” at the top of each menu for a listing of the 30-or-so fresh catches available on a particular day. You’ll usually find six to 12 varieties of oysters, which might include Oregon Kumamotos and Canadian Island Golds, depending on the season. The rest of the menu riffs on whatever’s fresh. Starters might include pan-seared shrimp with barbecue butter over spicy polenta; oyster stew with garlic bread; or crab dip with pita chips. On the larger side, there might be fried oysters with cole slaw; lemon-maple-basted trout; or blue crab crepes with lobster cream. Besides seafood, there’s a selection of steaks plus chicken and pork dishes.
The Scene: Dark wood and low lights make it seem like something besides the catch of the day is being discussed at this downtown outpost, a popular lunch stop for lawyers, journalists, and lobbyists. Private party rooms cater to larger corporate and social gatherings. For a cozier, more private feel, parties of six can slink around a table surrouned with three high walls and a curtained entrance. To be seen, eat at a sidewalk table, at the copper-topped raw bar. Multitaskers waiting for a table head to the shoeshine stand next to the bar.
What’s Nearby: In the middle of busy downtown, this branch of McCormick & Schmicks is two blocks from the White House. Nearby Connecticut Avenue leads to nightlife and more restaurants in Dupont Circle.
Insider Tips: McCormick & Schmick’s is known for their happy hour food menu, with selections (fried fish sandwiches; cheeseburgers) between $1.95 and $3.95. The deals are available at the bar weekdays between 3:30 and 7 PM, and Monday through Thursday between 10:30 and 11:30 PM. There’s always a catch: these discounted plates come with a two drink minimum per person, and drinks are full price.