Dining Out 3 minutes 16 January 2020

The 6 Best Seafood Restaurants in Washington, D.C.

From far and wide, taste the freshest catch at these D.C. restaurants.


Ever wonder where D.C. restaurants get their seafood? We spoke with Jeff Gaetjen, the fishmonger at BlackSalt, to give us the lay of the land (and water). 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 great seafood restaurants here in the Nation’s capital. Check out what other eateries you need to keep on your radar:



Designation: The Plate

What Our Inspectors Say: “It may be part market, but there’s nothing remotely pedestrian about BlackSalt. This lively restaurant’s menu manages to be both approachable and interesting, with sublime shellfish and a concise selection trawling coast to continent for inspiration. 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.”

Fiola Mare


Designation: The Plate

What Our Inspectors Say: “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. Still, the wonderfully charming waitstaff coddles everyone. Italian-leaning seafood is this kitchen's dictum. A plump Capital oyster floating in a zabaglione of Prosecco and topped with caviar is likely to cause sticker-shock, but it is a particular standout. The squid-ink bucatini leaves an intense impression, while pesce intero del giorno—which is deboned tableside—makes for a great signature and show.”

Seafood plateau of raw oysters, middleneck clams, shrimp cocktail, mussels in escabeche, ceviche and a chilled steamed lobster at Hank’s Oyster Bar. (Photo by Rey Lopez.)
Seafood plateau of raw oysters, middleneck clams, shrimp cocktail, mussels in escabeche, ceviche and a chilled steamed lobster at Hank’s Oyster Bar. (Photo by Rey Lopez.)

Hank’s Oyster Bar

Dupont Circle, Logan Circle & Foggy Bottom

Designation: The Plate

What Our Inspectors Say: “The original of four locations, Hank’s Oyster Bar promises a good time and a full stomach. Snag a seat on the spacious front patio or opt for a table indoors where bottles of malt vinegar and Old Bay seasoning are a sign of things to come. Meals 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.”

Ivy City Smokehouse

Florida Avenue & Gallaudet University

Designation: Bib Gourmand

What Our Inspectors Say: “Lucky are the eaters who make their way to this unique seafood smokehouse. Inside the warehouse-like space, a daily market and state-of-the-art smokehouse 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, almost jerk-like smoked salmon); glistening, coral-pink smoked salmon; pepper-smoked salmon imbedded with crushed peppercorns; and impossibly good whitefish salad. Don't miss the chalkboard's daily specials, like tender crab cake so flaky and minimally dressed you'll think you're seaside.”

Uni at Rappahannock Oyster Bar. (Photo courtesy of Rappahannock Oyster Bar.)
Uni at Rappahannock Oyster Bar. (Photo courtesy of Rappahannock Oyster Bar.)

Rappahannock Oyster Bar

Florida Avenue & Gallaudet University

Designation: The Plate

What Our Inspectors Say: “Set inside the buzzing Union Market, Rappahannock Oyster Bar is so much more than a popular bivalve joint. The feel-good revival story behind it will make you feel more philanthropist than hungry diner, and the ambience is everything you’d expect and then some: counter space, communal seating, a sprinkling of outdoor tables and an open-air vibe. 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.”


Spring Valley

Designation: Bib Gourmand

What Our Inspectors Say: "Take a break from the Beltway and head to Millie’s. It’s an offshoot of the Nantucket original, with a loyal whale-patterned, shorts-wearing crowd. Sound preppy? It is. The 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."

Hero image courtesy of Fiola Mare/Facebook. 

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