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Dining Out 2 minutes 19 July 2021

7 Best Seafood Restaurants in Washington, D.C.

Taste the freshest catch at these D.C. seafood restaurants.

Seafood Washington D.C.

The waters around Washington, D.C. offer quite the seafood bounty. BlackSalt executive chef/fishmonger Jeff Gaetjen gets his soft shell crabs from the Chesapeake Bay, rockfish from the waters of Virginia, sea scallops from the Maryland coast and even black bass from Rhode Island.  BlackSalt is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the best seafood restaurants in Washington, D.C. Here they are. 

BlackSalt

Begin with Addie’s mussels bathed in a well-balanced broth—you’ll be sopping up every last drop. Then move on to the ever-warming, saffron-tinged Provençal market stew bobbing with the day’s finest catch, which may include juicy mussels, tender shrimp, and flaky swordfish, among others.Finish this aquatic feast with a slice of their tart key lime pie. Served with blueberry compote and freshly whipped cream along with a sesame seed tuille, it is a rich and delicious way to clinch the meal. US$25-90

Estuary

The Voltaggio brothers’ massive Conrad hotel hot spot pays tribute to the bounty of the Chesapeake—from a Maryland crab roll enhanced by crab chips and Old Bay to an updated take on fried calamari, accompanied by chorizo mayonnaise. While seafood figures heavily on the menu, it’s not the sole offering. Diners can also sample snap peas and carrots over savory coconut ice, as well as shishito peppers with burrata. Inspired items, like a golden-brown potato galette topped with cauliflower purée and orange trout roe, also stand out for fitting reason. US$50-95

Fiola Mare

Hugging the Potomac River with unparalleled views, it may be difficult to find a more beautiful setting in town. Of course, those lovely sights come at a price, so expect a bill more palatable to the expense-account type. Italian-leaning seafood is executive chef Anton Bolling's dictum. A plump Capital oyster floats in a zabaglione of prosecco; while liquid cacio e pepe with escarole, sheep's milk cheese and toasted peppercorns is an unexpected thrill. Other crowd-favorites may include Calvisius caviar with warm tigelle Modenese and whipped ricotta, or an array of simply grilled seafood. US$65-150


Fiola Mare. Photo @dcfoodfreak/Instagram
Fiola Mare. Photo @dcfoodfreak/Instagram

Hank's Oyster Bar

Meals here begin with a bowl of humble Goldfish cheese crackers, then prepare yourself for a sea, ahem, of dishes. Feast on platters of raw bar beauties (including Hank's signature Saltywolfe oyster) to oysters any way you want ‘em (Hog Island style involves dunking in a tangy lemon-garlic-Tabasco-butter sauce, a sprinkling of breadcrumbs and shredded cheese and broiling until caramelized!). Lobster rolls, creamy chowder, and crab cake sandwiches with Old Bay-seasoned fries conjure up days at the beach from years gone by. US$25-50

Hank's Oyster Bar. Photo by Michelin North America
Hank's Oyster Bar. Photo by Michelin North America

Ivy City Smokehouse

Inside the warehouse-like space, a daily market and state-of-the-art smoker reside at street level. Above this, find a tavern-like restaurant with a large, open-air rooftop. The fish is fresh, the staff is super-friendly and the vibe is irresistible with occasional live music. A platter offers a broad sample of artisanal smoked goodies, like Indian candy (a sweet, salty and almost jerk-like smoked salmon); glistening, coral-pink smoked salmon; pepper-smoked salmon embedded with crushed peppercorns; and an impossibly good whitefish salad. US$25-50

Ivy City Smokehouse. Photo @ivycitysmokehouse/Instagram
Ivy City Smokehouse. Photo @ivycitysmokehouse/Instagram

Millie's

This space nails that breezy, nautical vibe with navy blue booths, a ceiling strung with boats and not-too-twee ship lanterns. It’s almost impossible not to be cheerful here—even the open kitchen buzzes with activity, simply enhancing the convivial aura. Equally upbeat is the menu that shines a spotlight on New England. Seared tuna tacos with wasabi cream and ceviche are light and refreshing; while the heady fragrance of the blue crab fried rice will induce envy from nearby tables. Maryland crab cake piled atop a fluffy brioche and slathered with herb aïoli tastes of summer by the sea. US$25-50

Millie's. Photo by Michelin North America
Millie's. Photo by Michelin North America

Rappahannock Oyster Bar

Set inside the buzzing Union Market, Rappahannock Oyster Bar is so much more than a popular bivalve joint. While the spotlight here is on the raw bar (order the sampler, a veritable love letter to the Virginia waters), the cooked dishes give those half-shells a run for their money. Clam chowder is thick, creamy and full of briny meat; and though the steamed shrimp dish sounds simple, these spicy shell-on specimens, served with a hunk of bread, sautéed onions and peppers, are a messy but delicious affair. US$25-50

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