clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile
Rockfish with middleneck clams, marinated roe, and baby root veggies from Estuary at Conrad Washington DC
Rockfish with middleneck clams from Estuary at Conrad Washington DC.
Estuary at Conrad Washington DC

D.C.’s Essential Seafood Restaurants

Feast on crab cakes, clams, oysters, and more

View as Map
Rockfish with middleneck clams from Estuary at Conrad Washington DC.
| Estuary at Conrad Washington DC

Rockfish, crab cakes, oysters. D.C. really knows how to deliver when it comes to seafood.

While seafood restaurants with expense account prices dominate downtown, an increasing number of casual eateries and Chesapeake seafood shacks have popped up in recent years. A surge of new underwater options opened in 2022 alone, including Silver Spring’s modern American restaurant J. Hollinger’s Waterman’s Chophouse, oyster bar Fog Point in Rosslyn, and Latin seafood-focused Mariscos 1133, with Shaw’s all-outdoor Chesapeake Crab Shack & Bar opening in June. And despite caviar-like prices for lump crab meat, Washingtonians remain fixed on finding the seasonal crustacean.

Here are 15 essential seafood restaurants in D.C., and for those specifically honing in on sushi, check out this map.

—Updated by Adele Chapin and Tierney Plumb

Read More
Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.
If you buy something or book a reservation from an Eater link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics policy.

Crisfield

Copy Link

Sliding behind the counter at this 70-year-old, family-run restaurant is like stepping into a time machine. While others have come and gone, this local fixture continues to provide seafood lovers with all manner of marine life including raw oysters, tangy shrimp salad, Norfolk-style selections baptized in butter, fried softshell crabs sandwiches (in season), and more. Like it spicy? Ask a server for some of the hot sauce bar staff mixes up from time to time.

Horace and Dickies

Copy Link

Though the original iconic carryout on H Street closed after a decades-old run, late owner Richard “Dickie” Shannon’s daughter operates a Horace and Dickie’s in Takoma and a food truck that roams the city with heaping boxes of cornmeal-crusted fried whiting.

Chef Skip 202

Copy Link

Virginia Beach native Christopher Skipper serves up Cajun-spiced fried shrimp, fish, oysters, and crab cakes at this carryout kitchen near Howard University — and each to-go box includes a purple flower and a sweet secret sauce also known as mayonnaise-based aioli.

Pop's Seabar

Copy Link

Memories of the Jersey Shore convinced chef John Manolato to open this Adams Morgan restaurant. Here, the chef serves peel-and-eat shrimp, catfish, and crab cakes, alongside a few non-fish items — including Jersey staple Taylor pork roll. Diners wash down the Old Bay-spiked dishes with grapefruit and orange crushes.

Blacksalt

Copy Link

This longtime Palisades restaurant serves as both a restaurant and a fish market for the neighborhood. Entrees from typically capitalize on what’s freshest that day. Dishes like fried clams and cream of crab soup appear alongside wood-grilled octopus, mussels, and red snapper. Blacks Restaurant Group’s Southern-leaning seafood sister Pearl Dive is also a prime place to stock up on chilled and broiled oysters, clam chowder, and more.

Ivy City Smokehouse

Copy Link

This neighborhood tavern is an extension of the smokehouse and production facility of local seafood company Profish, which means products here are never frozen. The smoked fish platter has already become an iconic appetizer around town, but Ivy City also offers one of the city’s best crabcakes. Crab feasts and a nice patio make this place even more appealing in the warmer months.

Hank's Oyster Bar (Multiple locations)

Copy Link

Homegrown chain Hank’s Oyster Bar from chef Jamie Leeds dishes out lobster rolls, mussels, and fried clams in a festive, casual atmosphere. They even have their own variety of oyster cultivated for them. There are Hank’s outposts in Dupont, the Wharf, and a newly-relocated Alexandria location.

Fiola Mare

Copy Link

There are two seafood-focused spots from chef Fabio Trabocchi: at the Wharf, Del Mar offers shellfish-studded, Spanish paella along the southwest waterfront, while Fiola Mare has been serving a stylish crowd at another waterfront (this one in Georgetown) since 2014. Both are splurge spots: here, consider a variety of crudo dishes, seafood brodetto, or the simply grilled seafood selection.

Estuary

Copy Link

CityCenterDC’s Estuary returned this spring after a long pandemic pause, sans opening celeb chefs and Maryland natives Bryan and Michael Voltaggio. Seafood is still a star at this luxe locavore restaurant, offering dishes like XO bucatini pasta with poached lobster and herb bread crumbs from chef de cusine Ria Montes and senior sous chef Sean Tew.

Estuary at Conrad Washington DC

This H Street NE hotspot offers an abundant seafood menu stocked with lobster rolls, East and West Coast oysters, peel-and-eat shrimp, and crab cakes. The 2-year-old nautical venture from Aaron McGovern and Arturas Vorobjovas (Biergarten Haus) puts a Cajun spin on oysters Rockefeller with broiled andouille sausage, red pepper corn succotash, parmesan, and corn bread crumble. Happy hour runs 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Brine runs a whole lobster special on Wednesdays.
Brine/Facebook

Joe's Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab

Copy Link

This Miami favorite made its way to D.C. where it cemented itself as a power restaurant near the White House. It serves stone crab claws and high-end fish and shellfish options to the downtown Washington crowd. Snacks are discounted at cocktail hour, but those deals aren’t as seafood-focused as the regular menu.

Rappahannock Oyster Bar (Wharf)

Copy Link

This Virginia-based restaurant company first came on the D.C. scene with a bar inside Union Market, and then restored a historic oyster shed at the Wharf complex for a flagship restaurant. Besides the signature oysters from the raw bar, order larger plates like oyster po’ boy sandwiches, whole branzino, or seared scallops.

The Municipal Fish Market at The Wharf

Copy Link

Around since 1805, this historic hub for fresh seafood (both cooked and raw) recently changed quite a bit with the construction of the Wharf development, but vendors such as Jessie Taylor Seafood continue bringing the best of the sea to D.C. Find blue crabs, scallops, catch of the day deals, and more at the various stalls. (Long-running local purveyor Captain White’s Seafood City recently opened up at a new location in Oxon Hill after setting sail from the fish market)

Salt Line

Copy Link

Chef Kyle Bailey oversees this Navy Yard eatery, which draws in large crowds on game days at Nationals Park (a spacious outdoor bar that spins out raw oysters, summery drinks, and fried clams helps). The restaurant draws its influences from New England, with a menu of clam chowder, oysters, and crispy skin rockfish. The Salt Line expanded to Ballston in 2021, and a Bethesda location is in the works too.

The Point D.C.

Copy Link

Warm crab doughnuts are a hit menu item at The Point, a massive new restaurant in the developing Buzzard Point neighborhood with waterfront views and a patio that overlooks where the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers meet. A wood-burning grill and oven turns out grilled whole fish and wood-roasted Chesapeake oysters topped with blue crab-miso butter.

The point’s savory doughnuts are stuffed with crab dip and coated in Old Bay John Rorapaugh/Leading DC

Loading comments...

Crisfield

Sliding behind the counter at this 70-year-old, family-run restaurant is like stepping into a time machine. While others have come and gone, this local fixture continues to provide seafood lovers with all manner of marine life including raw oysters, tangy shrimp salad, Norfolk-style selections baptized in butter, fried softshell crabs sandwiches (in season), and more. Like it spicy? Ask a server for some of the hot sauce bar staff mixes up from time to time.

Horace and Dickies

Though the original iconic carryout on H Street closed after a decades-old run, late owner Richard “Dickie” Shannon’s daughter operates a Horace and Dickie’s in Takoma and a food truck that roams the city with heaping boxes of cornmeal-crusted fried whiting.

Chef Skip 202

Virginia Beach native Christopher Skipper serves up Cajun-spiced fried shrimp, fish, oysters, and crab cakes at this carryout kitchen near Howard University — and each to-go box includes a purple flower and a sweet secret sauce also known as mayonnaise-based aioli.

Pop's Seabar

Memories of the Jersey Shore convinced chef John Manolato to open this Adams Morgan restaurant. Here, the chef serves peel-and-eat shrimp, catfish, and crab cakes, alongside a few non-fish items — including Jersey staple Taylor pork roll. Diners wash down the Old Bay-spiked dishes with grapefruit and orange crushes.

Blacksalt

This longtime Palisades restaurant serves as both a restaurant and a fish market for the neighborhood. Entrees from typically capitalize on what’s freshest that day. Dishes like fried clams and cream of crab soup appear alongside wood-grilled octopus, mussels, and red snapper. Blacks Restaurant Group’s Southern-leaning seafood sister Pearl Dive is also a prime place to stock up on chilled and broiled oysters, clam chowder, and more.

Ivy City Smokehouse

This neighborhood tavern is an extension of the smokehouse and production facility of local seafood company Profish, which means products here are never frozen. The smoked fish platter has already become an iconic appetizer around town, but Ivy City also offers one of the city’s best crabcakes. Crab feasts and a nice patio make this place even more appealing in the warmer months.

Hank's Oyster Bar (Multiple locations)

Homegrown chain Hank’s Oyster Bar from chef Jamie Leeds dishes out lobster rolls, mussels, and fried clams in a festive, casual atmosphere. They even have their own variety of oyster cultivated for them. There are Hank’s outposts in Dupont, the Wharf, and a newly-relocated Alexandria location.

Fiola Mare

There are two seafood-focused spots from chef Fabio Trabocchi: at the Wharf, Del Mar offers shellfish-studded, Spanish paella along the southwest waterfront, while Fiola Mare has been serving a stylish crowd at another waterfront (this one in Georgetown) since 2014. Both are splurge spots: here, consider a variety of crudo dishes, seafood brodetto, or the simply grilled seafood selection.

Estuary

Estuary at Conrad Washington DC

CityCenterDC’s Estuary returned this spring after a long pandemic pause, sans opening celeb chefs and Maryland natives Bryan and Michael Voltaggio. Seafood is still a star at this luxe locavore restaurant, offering dishes like XO bucatini pasta with poached lobster and herb bread crumbs from chef de cusine Ria Montes and senior sous chef Sean Tew.

Estuary at Conrad Washington DC

Brine

Brine runs a whole lobster special on Wednesdays.
Brine/Facebook

This H Street NE hotspot offers an abundant seafood menu stocked with lobster rolls, East and West Coast oysters, peel-and-eat shrimp, and crab cakes. The 2-year-old nautical venture from Aaron McGovern and Arturas Vorobjovas (Biergarten Haus) puts a Cajun spin on oysters Rockefeller with broiled andouille sausage, red pepper corn succotash, parmesan, and corn bread crumble. Happy hour runs 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Brine runs a whole lobster special on Wednesdays.
Brine/Facebook

Joe's Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab

This Miami favorite made its way to D.C. where it cemented itself as a power restaurant near the White House. It serves stone crab claws and high-end fish and shellfish options to the downtown Washington crowd. Snacks are discounted at cocktail hour, but those deals aren’t as seafood-focused as the regular menu.

Rappahannock Oyster Bar (Wharf)

This Virginia-based restaurant company first came on the D.C. scene with a bar inside Union Market, and then restored a historic oyster shed at the Wharf complex for a flagship restaurant. Besides the signature oysters from the raw bar, order larger plates like oyster po’ boy sandwiches, whole branzino, or seared scallops.

The Municipal Fish Market at The Wharf

Around since 1805, this historic hub for fresh seafood (both cooked and raw) recently changed quite a bit with the construction of the Wharf development, but vendors such as Jessie Taylor Seafood continue bringing the best of the sea to D.C. Find blue crabs, scallops, catch of the day deals, and more at the various stalls. (Long-running local purveyor Captain White’s Seafood City recently opened up at a new location in Oxon Hill after setting sail from the fish market)

Salt Line

Chef Kyle Bailey oversees this Navy Yard eatery, which draws in large crowds on game days at Nationals Park (a spacious outdoor bar that spins out raw oysters, summery drinks, and fried clams helps). The restaurant draws its influences from New England, with a menu of clam chowder, oysters, and crispy skin rockfish. The Salt Line expanded to Ballston in 2021, and a Bethesda location is in the works too.

The Point D.C.

The point’s savory doughnuts are stuffed with crab dip and coated in Old Bay John Rorapaugh/Leading DC

Warm crab doughnuts are a hit menu item at The Point, a massive new restaurant in the developing Buzzard Point neighborhood with waterfront views and a patio that overlooks where the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers meet. A wood-burning grill and oven turns out grilled whole fish and wood-roasted Chesapeake oysters topped with blue crab-miso butter.

The point’s savory doughnuts are stuffed with crab dip and coated in Old Bay John Rorapaugh/Leading DC

Related Maps