Best: Old Ebbitt Grill
675 15th St. NW, (202) 347-4800
2nd Best: Hank's Oyster Bar
1624 Q Street NW, (202) 462-4265; 1026 King Street, Alexandria, (703) 739-4265
At their best, oysters provide a plump, briny taste of the sea with every slurp. And raw bars, when at their best, provide expert shuckers who take pains to offer the mollusks swimming in their natural liquor and laid out on a clean bed of crushed ice. For selection and presentation, Old Ebbitt Grill—home of the annual Oyster Riot—remains the gold standard. Jamie Leeds’ approach to oysters at both versions of Hank’s Oyster Bar (near Dupont Circle on Q Street and on King Street in Alexandria) makes for a worthy competitor. You can count on Hank’s to offer a half-dozen varieties at any given time, with locally sourced Rappahannocks and Dragon Creeks almost always among them. Add in a $1 oyster happy hour Mondays through Fridays from 5:30 to 6:30, and Hank’s emerges as a solid choice for slurping down oysters while also tightening your belt.