Washingtonian Recommends: the Best Oyster Bars Around DC

Shuck your heart out.

One of our favorite Union Market spots: the Rappahannock Oyster Bar. Photograph by Scott Suchman
Washingtonian Recommends

Our Washingtonian Recommends lists bring you the best places to eat, drink, and be entertained—all selected by Washingtonian editors.

Rappahannock Oyster Bar
1309 5th St., NE
The cousins behind this Union Market raw bar also have their own Chesapeake oyster farm, so you know the bivalves are coming to you fresh. We like the briny Olde Salts from Chincoteague, VA paired with a local beer or refreshing “Afternoon Delight” spritz. (Get the oysters half-off Tuesdays through Fridays from 4 to 7 PM.) If you like hot sauce on your oysters, make sure to ask for a bottle of their addictive housemade stuff.

Pearl Dive Oyster Palace
1612 14th St., NW
Drinkers pack the tiny patio bar on 14th Street, but oyster lovers will want some elbow room inside this Jeff Black restaurant. Choose from nearly a dozen East and West Coast varieties, including the restaurant’s salty signature Old Black Salt Oysters. Pair a mixed dozen with the “dive juice” spiked with lime, cilantro, and jalapeno.

Hank’s Oyster Bar
1624 Q St., NW; 633 Pennsylvania Ave., SE; 701 Wharf St., SW; 1026 King St., Alexandria
The menus vary slightly between all four of chef Jamie Leed‘s neighborhood-y restaurants, but you can always count on great oysters. The casual dining rooms tend to have lively bars where you can pair your shellfish with fun cocktails. Better yet, come in for oysters during the seafood-centric brunch.

Best oyster bars seafood restaurants Whaley's DC Navy Yard.
Fresh-shucked oysters, many of them local, are a treat at Whaley’s. Photograph by Scott Suchman

301 Water St., SE, Suite 115
Oysters just taste better with a waterfront view. At this chic Navy Yard restaurant, take in a sunset over the Anacostia River while indulging in Chesapeake oysters, lovely crudos, and a vadouvan curry seafood risotto for two. During the summer, you can also find oysters at the restaurant’s Rosé Garden, covered in pink umbrellas and tropical plants.

The Dabney Cellar 
1222 9th St., NW
No one shucks oysters as flawlessly as the team at this subterranean bar serving wines, Virginia hams, and seafood. But what else would you expect from the talent behind the Dabney, one of DC’s top dining destinations? Like its sister restaurant, the candlelit den is the perfect spot for a date night (although be warned: it doesn’t take reservations).

Old Ebbitt Grill
675 15th St., NW
The late-night oyster happy hour at this old-school, mahogany-paneled saloon is a favorite among chefs looking for a post-shift snack. All oysters are half off from 11 PM to 1 AM (or 2 AM on Fridays and Saturdays), but if you’re not up that late, you can also catch the deal daily from 3 to 6 PM. Want a splurge? The Orca platter brimming with lobster, crab claws, shrimp, clams, and oysters is a Washington classic.

Best oyster bars seafood restaurants The Salt Line DC.
The Salt Line raw bar shows off oysters from Virginia and New England. Photograph by Scott Suchman

12435 Park Potomac Ave., Potomac, MD
Restaurateur Jeff Black revived his very first restaurant in new digs in 2017. The upgraded space has a homey vibe with a bookshelf-lined den and 50-seat courtyard as well as a revamped menu specializing in build-your-own seafood towers with rotating raw and cooked treats. Of course you can still get plenty of oysters, including two-for-one Chesapeake Bay bivalves during happy hour (weekdays from 3 to 7 PM).

The Salt Line
79 Potomac Ave., SE
The nautically themed dining room and sizable waterfront bar feels like a party during Nationals season. But you don’t need a game day excuse to check out chef Kyle Bailey’s New England coast menu. Sample the seafood charcuterie, lobster rolls, linguiça-stuffed clams, and plentiful array of Virginia and New England oysters.

Jessica Sidman
Food Editor

Jessica Sidman covers the people and trends behind D.C.’s food and drink scene. Before joining Washingtonian in July 2016, she was Food Editor and Young & Hungry columnist at Washington City Paper. She is a Colorado native and University of Pennsylvania grad.