Whether you’re Catholic and therefore not eating meat on Fridays, or simply want to incorporate more seafood into your diet, there are some great seafood restaurants in and around Washington, DC. Based on quality, service, and atmosphere, below are five places that should be worked into your regular rotation to get your seafood fix (in no particular ranking or ordering).
1. BlackSalt Restaurant
Located just off the Lobbyist’s Path in the Palisades neighborhood north of Georgetown, is Chef Jeff Black’s staple DC location. Walking into the combination market/restaurant you are greeted by a large and welcoming bar, opening into a clean and modern dining room. The seafood is fresh, served simply prepared with a large attention to detail, and if the menu wasn’t enough to catch your attention, don’t miss their wine list. The Big-Eye Tuna Tartare (best in DC in my opinion) and Wood-Fire Grilled Octopus are starters not to be missed, as well as a large collection of amazing oysters (DC politico Tucker Carlson’s favorite place to get them), and possibly the best caviar in DC. For your entree, the Bouillabaisse never misses - monkish, Sea Scallop, Oysters, Blue Shell Mussels, Gulf Shrimp, served in a Saffron Broth, topped with a Rouille Crouton for around thirty dollars. Also their selection of fresh daily whole fish is usually on the top of everyone’s list. Reservations are certainly needed, and if you go on the early side, be prepared to share the room with families and their children. Being a local neighborhood establishment, it’s often frequented by young parents with their little ones in tow. Personally, I like that about this place, however you plan to knock back a few on your clients tab – opt for 8pm or later.
Where: BlackSalt Fish Market & Restaurant, 4883 MacArthur Blvd., Washington D.C. 20007. Online.
2. DC Coast
Located conveniently directly off the lobbying corridor of K Street, this DC classic is part of the acclaimed Passion Food Restaurant Group (who brought us District Commons and the newly opened Fuego), and continues to deliver delicious, quality food. Fitting in with the suit and tie crowd, this is a popular downtown lunch meeting spot, and offers a fantastic dinner menu as well. For lunch, start with the tuna tartare or fried oysters before moving onto their crab cakes, gumbo, or Carolina trout. They offer a po’ boy which is very tasty, but a bit messy. For dinner, the house made fettucine with short-rib ragu and honey mushrooms is warm and filling, while the grilled octopus and feta salad is contrastingly light and refreshing. Dive into the local Rockfish (stripped bass), Frogmore Stew, or VA Swordfish for dinner.
Where: DC Coast, 1401 K Street NW, Washington, DC 20005. Online.
3. Hank’s Oyster Bar
Much like a traditional seafood restaurant you’d expect to find right behind a dune off the North Carolina coast, Hank’s keeps things fresh and simple. With two locations (Capitol Hill and Dupont), this convenient restaurant serves up lobster and oyster rolls, oysters, fish n’ chips, and peel and eat shrimp. The dinner menu offers a bit more, and the Hill location has a more sophisticated menu as opposed to the traditional beach-fare found at the original Dupont location – with options like braised short-rib stuffed squid. Either way, you can’t do wrong. Great to go with friends/co-workers after work, pull up a bar stool, grab a couple of beers and start knocking back the oysters.
Where: Hank’s Oyster Bar, 1624 Q Street NW, Washington DC 20009 and on the Hill at 633 Pennsylvania Avenue SE, Washington DC 20003. Online.
4. Bourbon Steak at the Four Seasons, Georgetown
Known for their large cuts of beef and high-end service and clientele, seafood may not be what first comes to mind. But don’t let the name fool you, Bourbon Steak has some of the best seafood in DC. Start with the marinated Nantucket Bay scallops in orange, cilantro, and lemongrass vinaigrette, before moving on to the Ahi Tuna tartare made table side (tied with BlackSalt as the best in DC). The Rockfish (striped bass) crudo is also light and packed with flavor. For the main course, the lobster pot-pie is warm and filling, and the seared Big Eye (or bluefin) tuna is always great. The oak fired mahi-mahi (dorado or dolphin fish) is my personal favorite. Bonus points for being able to relax on their patio (by the fire pit if it’s chilly), and smoke a nice cigar from their selection. GM Mark Politzer and his team will be sure to take care of you…trust me, being four blocks from my house it’s a place I frequent far too often.
Where: Bourbon Steak at the Four Seasons Hotel, 2800 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC, 20007. Online.
5. Oceanaire Seafood Room
Tucked smack in the middle of downtown DC, Oceanaire provides a raw bar, a large regular bar, private dinning areas, and a large, spacious main dining room. Also, as an added bonus, they have one of the best happy hours in DC ($3 draft, $4 wine, $5 apps). For lunch, grab some oysters Rockefeller before getting fried jumbo shrimp or the crab cake club. In the evening, hit up the happy hour at the bar, then head to your table for any of their fresh fish options prepared a number of different ways. With a large menu, this place will satisfy every seafood lover in your group.
Where: Oceanaire Seafood Room, 1201 F Street NW, Washington, DC, 20004. Online.