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The Oysters Have Arrived: Johnny’s Half-Shell is Back in Business

One neighborhood’s loss is another’s gain

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R. Lopez
Tierney Plumb is the editor of Eater DC, covering all things food and drink around the nation's capital.

After a soft launch this weekend, Johnny’s Half Shell is now shucking and serving in Adams Morgan.

Mains range from $16 for the Nicoise salad with imported tuna to $40 for the grilled New Frontier dry aged beef ribeye with sides. There’s also a spiced rubbed whole Maine lobster. Oysters on the half shell are $2.50 each. Many items are similar to Ann Cashion's old menu, such as her classic gumbo, with more affordable options for the new neighborhood. That means making entrees starters, like fritto misto ($7) and crab imperial ($14), with staples like seafood gumbo and crab cakes staying on the menu as is.

Co-owner Johnny Fulchino calls the space "bright and fun," thanks to touches like fish and seahorse wall hangings and a mermaid painting. Waiters in white suits and ties, classic jazz tunes, and reclaimed beach wood walls add to the retro-coastal vibe.

Hours are as follows: Monday 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Tuesday though Friday 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. (lunch may be tacked on on Friday, Fulchino says); Saturday 10:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.; and Sunday 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. A special Columbus Day brunch menu included fried shrimp or oyster po’boy and blueberry bunuelos, which could end up as future weekend bites.

Manning the bar is Will Ferguson, who moved over from the Capitol Hill location (as did much of its staff), making $8-$12 drinks with house made bitters and accoutrements like the Johnny Penicillin with Speyside scotch and One Day as A Lion with Gin Lane 1751. Fulchino says he also plans to run happy hour deals though the night on a rotating selection of drinks and food.

The restaurant has seating for 80, so it's much more intimate than the massive 12,000-square-foot location that shuttered in May. Some longtime Johnny’s fans in Capitol Hill were champing at the bit for its comeback and were among the first guests this weekend to test drive the new space, Fulchino says. Pending approvals, expect outdoor seating with retractable windows to debut in a few weeks, he says.

Johnny’s Half-Shell; 1819 Columbia Rd. NW; website

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