100 Very Best Restaurants 2014: Rappahannock Oyster Bar

A dozen raw oysters. Photograph by Scott Suchman.

Our favorite reason to visit the artisanal-food hall Union Market is this convivial horseshoe-shaped oyster bar. The menu is as tightly executed and carefully thought out as it is concise, and we’ve yet to try a dish we didn’t want to devour. Raw oysters, from the owners’ beds in Virginia’s Chesapeake Bay, are musts, and it’s tempting to while away an afternoon with a few leisurely rounds of crisp Stingrays and a cold Muscadet. But then you’d miss the cooked side of the menu, with its changing lineup that might include steamed clams with sake and seaweed, peel-and-eat shrimp steamed to order with butter and Old Bay, and often excellent ceviches and tartares. To go with it all, there are local beers—including one brewed with oyster shells—and refreshing, easy-drinking cocktails.

Open: Tuesday through Sunday for lunch and dinner (closes at 8).

Don’t Miss: Crabcake with celeriac rĂ©moulade; egg salad with caviar and potato chips; oyster chowder; “lamb and clams” stew; ribs of pacu (a fish) with green-mango salad.

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