100 Best Restaurants 2012: Pearl Dive Oyster Palace

Restaurant Arrivals We’re Most Excited About


Few newcomers in recent years have so perfectly captured the culinary zeitgeist as this recent addition to the 14th Street corridor. Jeff and Barbara Black’s fifth restaurant exudes sophistication even as it bids you to ditch the tie, translates impeccably sourced shellfish into generous plates and bowls that strut their downhome roots, and offers impressive value without cutting corners.

Looking at the oxidized sign and the weathered floorboards, it’s hard to believe the place hasn’t been around a decade or two. It also functions with a smoothness that belies such a young operation, a credit to its veteran owners. Dishes are upscale enough to be worthy of leaving home for but not so much that they become precious.

What to get: Oysters on the half shell; seafood-studded salsa; grilled bacon-wrapped oysters; any of the gumbos; fried chicken; crawfish étouffée; BLT with fried catfish and an egg; Derby pie; Key-lime pie.

Open Monday through Thursday for dinner, Friday through Sunday for lunch and dinner. Moderate.

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.