Hank’s Oyster Bar Restaurant

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Every so often we like to visit a restaurant in our neighborhood, we try choosing places that we can recommend to guests staying at our Washington DC Inn.

Opening near Dupont Circle (1624 Q St NW) in 2005, Hank’s Oyster Bar prides itself on simple, elegant seafood plates served in a classy, nautical atmosphere. The building is an old rowhouse on the southeast side of Q and 17th streets. There is a spacious area for outdoor seating, two bars – one upstairs and another on the floor-level – and a hip lounge area just beyond the front bar. The atmosphere feels like the white marine interior of a yacht: casual, relaxed, and warm.

If I were to guess the chef’s philosophy of food, it would be to forego complicated champaign-vinegar mignonettes and convoluted batters and to instead let the seafood do the talking. I began with an appetizer that an old chef of mine once told me to experiment with: olives dredged in panko and lemon zest, then fried until brown. This was my first time trying fried olives (mine turned out overly-briny and dull); they were not overly-briny, had a satisfying crunch, and a pleasant hint of lemon.

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Next I ordered three oysters served with a classic combination of lemon, ketchup, horseradish, and red wine vinegar. They were undoubtedly fresh and perfectly shucked, with none of the foot left attached to the shell. The one to the far right was big, meaty, and unbelievably complex.

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In keeping with the theme of the restaurant, I ordered an oyster po’ boy for my entrée; six beer-battered oysters served on a buttered brioche bun (the alliteration is unintentional) and a side of house-made tartar. Again, the quality of the oysters stood out, remaining soft and buttery inside and crunchy outside. We also ordered a salad of raw tuna chunks tossed in sesame vinaigrette and served on mixed greens.

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In all, we spent about $50 on a memorable meal. The entrees range from $16 – $25, approximately, and the smaller plates and appetizers run between $4 – $10. Hank’s has two happy hours: one between 5:00pm and 7:00pm, which features $5 drinks and $1 oysters, and one between 10:00pm and midnight, which features half-price cold bar, select oysters, and appetizers. Considering the excellent quality of service and its close proximity to our D.C. Inn, I would strongly recommend Hank’s to our guests for dinner.

Marcos, Innkeeper at American Guest House, a Washington DC bed and breakfast 

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