100 Very Best Restaurants 2014: Johnny’s Half Shell

The bar at Johnny's Half Shell restaurant in Washington, DC. Photograph by Chris Campbell.
The bar at Johnny's Half Shell restaurant in Washington, DC. Photograph by Chris Campbell.

Plunk Johnny’s down in New Orleans and it would be a beloved institution—one of those enduring restaurants by which the generations of a family mark time. In DC, the current preoccupation with fashion and buzz—a byproduct of a burgeoning scene—can mean obscurity for those restaurants where a menu changes about as often as an administration. The emphasis in this kitchen is on the cooking of the foodways from which chef and co-owner Ann Cashion hails (the Gulf) and where she’s made her home over the past three decades (the Chesapeake). That means an abundance of seafood, almost always treated simply and with reverence. There are sweet, crunchy soft-shells with a rich spoon bread, lightly bound crabcakes, and the best bowl of gumbo this side of the bayou, dark as night and loaded with shrimp and oysters. It’s a place to linger, with a strong drink to start and a sublime slice of lemon chess pie or apple cake to finish.

Open: Monday through Friday for lunch and dinner, Saturday for dinner.

Don’t Miss: Crab Louis salad; barbecue shrimp; grilled chicken wings with Green Goddess dressing; spicy broiled lobster. 

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