100 Best Restaurants 2008: Hank’s Oyster Bar

No. 98: Hank's Oyster Bar

Cuisine: Shore classics including lobster rolls and fried clams, seafood specials, and oysters every which way rule at these citified fish shacks—the Dupont Circle original and its recently opened Old Town twin.

Mood: Turned-up speakers blare peppy Motown and Michael Jackson tunes, but they rarely drown out the happy din from the crowded tables. And although winking touches abound—gratis snacks are Pepperidge Farm Goldfish—Hank’s is serious when it comes to the kitchen and the smartly chosen wine and beer lists.

Best for: Quick weeknight dinners, low-key dates, brunch (the pint-glass bloody Mary is a perfect foil for fried seafood).

Best dishes: Oyster shooters; peel-and-eat shrimp; fried popcorn shrimp and calamari with tangy rémoulade; Hog Island–style broiled oysters dripping with spicy butter; fried oyster po’boy with slaw; fried clams; lobster roll with shoestring fries; sablefish with soy-balsamic glaze; crusty Gouda-and-white-cheddar mac and cheese.

Insider tips: Both no-reservations dining rooms fill up fast, especially in winter when there’s no patio seating. Go early or call and put your name on the waiting list. And leave your sweet tooth at the door—there’s no dessert menu, just a glass of Sauternes or the hunk or two of chocolate that comes with the check.

Service: ••

Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Petworth.