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Late-Night Fried Chicken Joint Arrives in Shaw After Fixing Controversial Rap Murals

Roy Boys started slinging sandwiches, oysters, and ice cream tacos last week

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Roy Boys chicken and gravy
A fried chicken dish with a cheddar biscuit, bacon apple onion jam, and sausage gravy.
Roy Boys [official]
Tierney Plumb is the editor of Eater DC, covering all things food and drink around the nation's capital.

Roy Boys opened last Friday in the Atlantic Plumbing building in Shaw, giving the neighborhood a neon-lit spot for fresh oysters and fried chicken dishes engineered to soak up lots of alcohol after hours. Blocks away from the 9:30 Club, Roy Boys will stay open until 2 a.m. from Sunday through Thursday and 3 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.

The restaurant in the former Tasty Burger space includes a wall of bright yellow busts in the shape of chicken heads and nods to ‘90s hip-hop stars to pay homage to its iconic neighbor, the 9:30 Club. Before opening, the restaurant came under under fire for murals that slapped chicken beaks over the mouths the Death Row Records crew and depicted Notorious B.I.G. with a full, feathered bird head.

Artist Christopher Lynch worked fast to remove the chicken references, which had been criticized as examples of dehumanization and cultural appropriation on a podcast by celebrity chef Rahman “Rock” Harper. The opening date was bumped by a few days as a result.

A revamped Notorious B.I.G. mural hangs out near the bar. Images of his “Ready to Die” album cover covers bathroom walls.
Scott Parker/Roy Boys
One mural near the bathroom was inspired by VIBE magazine’s legendary “Live From Death Row” 1996 cover.
Scott Parker/Roy Boys

Co-owners Scott Parker — who runs millennial hangouts in Arlington including Don Tito and The G.O.A.T. — and Marlon Marshall are hoping the food can push the business past the initial controversy.

Chef Will Sullivan, most recently chef de cuisine at Clarendon’s Green Pig Bistro, is manning the menu. There are five fried chicken sandwiches and four variations of fresh oysters to go along with hushpuppies, peel-and-eat shrimp, salads, and ice cream tacos.

Roy Boys Menu by on Scribd

Inventive “ice cream” tacos come topped with chocolate and peanuts or pineapple, coconut, and a caramel drizzle. The most colorful of the bunch comes covered in Fruity Pebbles and shiny hard candies.
Roy Boys/Facebook

Bar manager and Jack Rose alum Frank Mills crafted an opening lineup of six cocktails ($13 each), including one on draft that’s made with Shinju Japanese whisky. In addition to canned and all-local draft beers, beer is served in mini “pony” bottles ($4 each).

Booze also makes its way into oyster shooters and daily bloody marys in a frozen mug, rimmed with with kosher salt and black ground peppercorn ($10 each). Customers can opt for a traditional red or verde house-made mix with tequila or vodka. A skewer with a chicken wing, shrimp, bell peppers, red onion, and pickled okra comes with a $6 upcharge.

Happy hour (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. every day) includes $5 drafts, $5 40-ounce bottles of wine, and $10 cocktails. Oysters will run for $1 a piece all day on Mondays.

Roy Boys bloody mary
Rojo and verde bloody marys from Roy Boys.
Roy Boys/official
Roy Boys chicken.
Fried chicken and biscuits with dirty rice and slaw.
Roy Boys
Roy Boy oysters
Fresh oysters.
Roy Boys [official]
Barbecued oysters, left, and oysters Rockefeller.
Roy Boys [official]

Roy Boys

2108 8th Street Northwest, , DC 20001 (202) 558-9382 Visit Website