Best Seafood in Washington

Drop Your Anchor At These Top D.C. Seafood Restaurants

Many of us love the ocean and rivers to frolic in during boiling hot summer days yet while we splash around, others see what lurks beneath – a smorgasbord of seafood that would look divine on a meal plate.

Poseidon, if you are reading this, you may want to stop now because Washington, D.C. chefs have turned your water inhabitants into savory, mouth watering dishes sprinkled with spices and splashed with lemon butter among other fresh ingredients.

If you are looking for an upscale experience, head to Fiola Mare which features gorgeous views of the Potomac River along with a menu that changes daily.  Brought to the district by renowned Chef Fabio Trabocchi, this restaurant features a raw bar with gourmet selection of market seafood.

Casual yet fun venues include Luke's Lobster which brings a Maine-style menu south of the Mason Dixon line and Chasin' Tails that allows diners to determine how their meals are cooked with their Bayou N A Bag menu selection.

The district has a number of savory seafood destinations to make you happy so drop your anchor at one of these top locations.    









Luke's Lobster
Photo courtesy of Luke's Lobster

Can't make it to Maine to indulge in lobster, crab and shrimp rolls, bisque and chowder? Then head to this eatery which is one of the best place south of the Mason Dixon line for a Maine-style menu. Check out the three locations in the Metro region: Penn Quarter, Georgetown and Bethesda. Each location's menu varies so check before you go if you are craving a certain dish. Each roll is served with chilled seafood on top of a buttered, toasted New England-style split top bun with just a swipe of mayonnaise, a splash of lemon butter and some sprinkles of secret spices.

Recommended for Seafood because: If you crave a Maine-style menu, this is a great spot to get your fix.

Gina's expert tip: Seating is on a first-come, first-serve basis but Georgetown is the largest local location.

Read more about Luke's Lobster →

While some seafood restaurants strive for a formal setting, Chasin' Tails aims for a fun, family style experience where it is totally OK to get your hands messy. You can't come here without trying the Bayou N' A Bag where you make all the choices when it comes to the meal. Pick the catch, style and heat level then wait for it to be delivered to you in a steaming bag to bring out the flavors. Louisiana natives may want to head directly to the Off The Bayou section of the menu which features creole jambalaya, seafood and sausage gumbo and crawfish mac n' cheese.

Recommended for Seafood because: Dig in at this venue where you can get your hands dirty and have a great time too.

Gina's expert tip: If you aren't satisfied, let them know. Their 100 percent unconditional guarantee is 'If you ain't smilin', you ain't buyin!'

Read more about Chasin' Tails →

Photo courtesy of Brine

Brine is another word for the sea or ocean and you'll find some of the best local catches served up here at this Mosaic District restaurant in Fairfax, Va. Restaurant proprietor Travis Croxton co-owns several oyster farms throughout the Chesapeake region and a clam farm in Chincoteague, Va. so guests will know the dishes are fresh. Many will want to try the raw bar which features oysters on the half shell, seafood ceviche and chilled Carolina shrimp cocktail. The wood rotisserie cooks a market catch over oak for a half an hour. The meal takes awhile but it is worth it!

Recommended for Seafood because: Using regional seafood, this Mosaic District restaurant offers (oyster) farm to table freshness.

Gina's expert tip: Park in one of the garages where parking is free for up to five hours from 6 a.m. to 3 a.m.

Read more about Brine →

Pearl Dive Oyster Palace
Photo courtesy of Pearl Dive

For those who love oysters, this Logan Circle spot is the place to dive into for a fantastic selection of both east and west coast oysters. Old Black Salt, Kumamoto, Cedar Island, cornmeal crusted Chesapeake and wood grilled east coast oysters are just a few to chose from yet the selection changes often. The dinner menu is a seafood lovers delight with multiple selections of creole gumbo and stews, fried and not fried entrees such as wood grilled gulf redfish, blackened gulf swordfish and shrimp dinner. Don't leave before trying the passion fruit moon pie tart or at least order it and take it home to enjoy later.

Recommended for Seafood because: Dive into a wide array of oyster offerings at this Logan Circle spot.

Gina's expert tip: Check out the rustic décor throughout the restaurant. Many of the repurposed pieces come from all over the United States.

Read more about Pearl Dive Oyster Palace →

For nearly a quarter century, Pesce has been reeling in customers thanks to its fresh seafood and enticing bistro entrees. A really unique part of this district destination is how you see the daily menu. Instead of getting a printed paper menu, each guest gets to peruse one that is hand-written on a chalk board. Tuesdays are lobster night so get ready for a three-course meal featuring the delicious crustacean. Families should make sure to come on Wednesday nights. A seafood family-style menu is available for those who want big taste and portions. Metro: Dupont Circle.

Recommended for Seafood because: Combining a relaxed bistro café with top-notch seafood, this D.C. dining destination is a winner.

Gina's expert tip: You can't leave without trying the Guayaquil chocolate tart. Savor the dessert there or take it home to enjoy later.

Read more about Pesce →

Serving up coastal favorites and New England beach fare classics since 2005, Hank's Oyster Bar is a favorite among locals. There are three locations, Capitol Hill, Dupont Circle and Alexandria, Va., but each offers different menu items daily. Dinner menu includes ice bar, small and large plate selections, meats and side orders. Pair your selection with a drink off the wine and beer menu which includes custom and seasonal cocktails. Check the happenings section of their website to see when fun events are coming up including movie screenings and live bands.

Recommended for Seafood because: Multiple locations in the area give district residents ample opportunity to get their fish fix.

Gina's expert tip: Specials change daily so give them a call before you head out to find out what will be on the menu.

Read more about Hank's Oyster Bar →

Joe's Seafood Prime Steak and Stone Crab
Photo courtesy of Joe's Seafood Prime Steak Stone Crab

Born from the Lettuce Entertain You Restaurant Group, this venue opened its doors just a couple of years ago but is already known as a great spot to see the politically powerful. For those who love seafood and steak, you will find a bevy of menu options but don't leave without adding sides to your main dish. Jennie's mashed potatoes and Joe's grilled tomatoes are great choices. Be sure to check out their cocktail hours every day from 2:30 to 6:30 p.m. in the banking hall. Nosh on Alaskan king crab roll, blackened rockfish and oysters on the half shell.

Recommended for Seafood because: Oysters on the half shell and jumbo Alaskan king crab are just two of the dishes you can reel in at this popular spot.

Gina's expert tip: Check out their website section 'What's crackin' to see dates for their sommelier series.

Read more about Joe's Seafood Prime Steak and Stone Crab →

Oceanaire Seafood Room

Forget the venues that have lobster bibs and newspaper on the table. For those who crave a sleek and sophisticated atmosphere when dining on the freshest seafood flown in from around the world, make your reservations for this D.C. venue. One of 13 locations across the country, the menu changes daily to reflect market availability and seasonal ingredients. Don't leave without trying a selection off the extensive yet very impressive wine menu. A reserve list is available upon request in case you are looking for a certain selection. Metro: Metro Center or Gallery Place-Chinatown.

Recommended for Seafood because: Sleek, sophistication meets fresh seafood at this impressive D.C. restaurant.

Gina's expert tip: Don't worry about parking. Valet service is available during dinner hours for $12.

Read more about Oceanaire Seafood Room →

Fiola Mare
Photo courtesy of Fiola Mare

With gorgeous views of the Potomac River and a seafood market counter to evoke a Mediterranean feel, this restaurant will make you want to get out of bed to catch it's top-notch brunch menu. Using the finest, freshest ingredients, the menu changes daily so be sure to check their website before you go. A recent summer offering included a choice of bottomless cocktail, mocktail or coffee service along with brunch favorites like lemon ricotta pancakes, pane bello French toast and Uova in camicia. Opening in early 2014, this is the third restaurant Chef Fabio Trabocchi has opened in the district and continues to be must-go destination for foodies.

Recommended for Seafood because: The Mediterranean comes to D.C. with this amazing seafood restaurant.

Gina's expert tip: Can't find a place to park? The restaurant offers valet parking for an additional fee.

Read more about Fiola Mare →

Looking for a restaurant that puts the focus on the seafood? Blackfish is the place for you. Dinner starters include both cold and hot items, caviar by the ounce, blue shell mussels and oysters. Save room for can't-miss entrees like wood grilled swordfish, skuna bay salmon and Atlantic big eye tuna. Midday diners should take advantage of their lunch break menu featuring a choice of three or four courses. Be sure to come to Happy Hour, held seven days a week in the bar and café, to catch deals on menu items and drink specials.

Recommended for Seafood because: Whether you check out the restaurant or the fish market, you will always get the best seafood in the area.

Gina's expert tip: No need for a designated driver. BlackSalt offers a car service during evening hours Wednesday through Sunday.

Read more about BlackSalt →


Meet Gina Gallucci White

Gina Gallucci White is an award winning freelance writer with articles appearing in such regional publications as Frederick Magazine, The Daily Record, Montgomery Magazine and The Gazette. She...  More About Gina