Rockfish, crab cakes, oysters. D.C. really knows how to deliver when it comes to seafood.Read More
D.C.’s Essential Seafood Restaurants
Feast on crab cakes, clams, oysters, and more
Sliding behind the counter at this family-run restaurant since 1945 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, seasonal soft-shell sandwiches (which are still in stock), and other Norfolk-style selections baptized in butter. 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 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.
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.
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.
Mexico-born restaurateurs Alfredo and Jessica Solis (El Sol, Mezcalero, and Anafre) gave Logan Circle a color-soaked seafood spot last year that bounces all around Latin America. Mariscos, which means “seafood” in Spanish, offers a treasure trove of fresh fish, crustaceans, and bivalves prepared raw, fried, and grilled. Made-to-order citrusy ceviches, jicama slaw-topped oyster po’boys, and other Latin dishes harken back to Alfredo Solis’s days running downtown’s Ceiba for Passion Food Hospitality.
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.
CityCenterDC’s Estuary returned in spring 2022 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.
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 3-year-old nautical venture from Aaron McGovern and Arturas Vorobjovas 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. A second Brine arrived in Dupont this year.
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 restored a historic oyster shed at the Wharf complex for its 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) changed in recent years 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 opened up at a new location in Oxon Hill after setting sail from the fish market.)
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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 joined the fold this summer.
The Point D.C.
Warm crab doughnuts are a hit menu item at The Point, a massive seafood showpiece 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.
Fish Market Restaurant
Around since 1976, this Old Town stalwart keeps seafood lovers satisfied with peel-and-eat spicy shrimp, lobster bisque, premiere raw bar selection, and blackened mahi-mahi sandwiches. The splurge-worthy Admiral’s platter ($48.99) features shrimp, scallops, salmon, and a crab cake alongside seasonal veggies and potatoes. To celebrate its decades-long run thus far, its Anchor Bar offers “throwback” prices on oysters and clams from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.