Weekend Events
I'm Gullible

Hank's Oyster Bar

It's a Wednesday night and I'm sitting at the bar at Hank's Oyster Bar listening to The Dire Straits' Walk of Life. With my right hand, I'm feeding Noah his bottle and with my left, I'm eating fresh Kumamoto oysters. Life doesn't get much better than this.

We'd yet to be seated at our table, and I couldn't help but notice that the table behind me was having some problems with something cold that'd been delivered to their table. The only reason I noticed though, was because the floor manager, who'd treated us very nicely when we first came in the door, was apologizing for the mishap and was bringing over some complimentary appetizers to make up for the problems. Service isn't sacrificed at Hank's.

Hank's Oyster Bar gets very crowded. If you come after 7 on any night of the week, your in for at least a 30 minute wait. But that 30 minute wait can easily turn into 15 minutes or less with Hank's Oyster Bar's  "call ahead" policy. Call before you leave, and the host/hostess will put your name on the list, quickly turning that long wait into only a slight inconvenience.

I wonder how many people actually know about this policy -- I should've probably kept my mouth shut. Oh well...

With the name Hank's Oyster Bar, you'd expect the oysters to be good...and they are! I'd suggest a glass of the Muscadet or Viognier with them (there are many wines that go well with oysters), but the oysters are only one of many treats to get at Hank's. Take for instance, the not-too-heavily-creamy New England clam chowder, which on my first trip contained more potatoes than clams, but on my second trip had an abundance of clams. Or perhaps, you'd prefer the homemade mac and cheesy, which is fresh-baked to order, and don't forget the salty Old Bay seasoned fries.

On top of the regular menu, there are four fish specials available. Both times we went to Hank's, there was a sablefish on the menu, a chili-crusted fish (Rockfish or Mahi Mahi) or a white tuna. Chef Jamie Leeds rotates in specials depending on what fish she can get fresh that week and how well they are selling, but she tries have something new on the specials menu every day.

My first night there, I tried the sablefish which is marinated in a mixture of soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, ginger and other seasoning for 24 hours. I thought the marinade gave a good contrasting flavor to the slightly fishy flavor of the sablefish. The second entree I had, which was anything but typical when you think of how fish is usually prepared, was a roasted monkfish with a mild marinara sauce and pancetta. The dense monkfish was lightly breaded, almost like you'd see the chicken in chicken parmesan prepared, but it wasn't dry or rubbery like I've had it elsewhere.

After both wonderful meals at Hank's, I was ready for some dessert, but there's no dessert menu, so I was glad I didn't save room. For those of you with a sweet tooth like me, you'll be happy to know that they bring out a little bit of bittersweet chocolate with your check which hits the spot quite well and is probably better for you than that creme brulee or bread pudding.

However, I wouldn't be surprised if Jamie Leads had a silent deal with Johnny Monis around the corner, because both times I was tempted to stop at Komi on the way home and grab some homemade donuts. Of course, you can always order some more oysters for dessert, which is probably what Jamie Leeds would prefer and I'm almost positive you won't regret.

Hank's Oyster Bar
1624 Q St NW
Washington, DC 20009
(202) 462 HANK (4265)

Sunday, Monday, Tuesday 5:30 - 10:00pm
Wed, Thurs 5:30 - 11:00pm
Fri and Sat 5:30 - 11:00pm
Sat and Sunday Brunch 11:00 am - 3:00pm

Dress Code: Casual
Parking: This restaurant is in Dupont Circle. If you're lucky like I was, you can find someone pulling out the moment you're driving by on the same block as Hank's. If you're unlucky, you find a spot five blocks away.
Not Allowed.
Closest Metro:
Dupont Circle
Not taken, but take advantage of the call ahead policy. 
Baby-Friendly Rating: 2 out of 4 diapers. The restaurant is nice and loud, so if your baby starts crying, no one will hear them. However, if it's crowded, you'll have a long wait and you'll be outside in the cold with your baby because there's not a lot of room to wait inside.


Marc Johnson

This commentary seemed less than flattering of Hank's. My experience there was fantastic. From the calamari, to the crab cakes, to the fried shrimp...everything was fantastic. Yes...the crowds are overwhelming and the parking stinks to be damned, but as far as I am concerned, the food was fantastic. But...that's the great thing about life...we all have opinions. Happy Eating!!!


Man, I actually thought I was being pretty flattering myself...

Suburban Tasteland

Speaking of Old Bay, I recall seeing a black T-Shirt about ten years ago with the image of an Old Bay spice tin emblazoned across the front. I've always regretted not throwing down the shekels for it, but then again I probably couldn't wear it out without feeling like a tool. Still, one of the coolest T-shirts ever.


Went to Hank's on Sat. Dinner was pretty good, although my girlfriend yakked (seriously) when we got home, my sister-in-law got hammered and acted like an idiot (but I'm used to that), a small plate of good fried clams was $14, and a 6 ounce piece of well-prepared fish with no sides was $18. All in all, $120 for a decent meal (although my girlfriend might disagree with that assessment). Come to your own conclusions.


As long as her yakking had nothing to do with the food she ate...


I went there for brunch this morning and it was great! I called ahead, but they told me, strangely enough, that there is never a wait for brunch. I walked right in with a friend. I had the smoked salmon platter, with one of the best bagels since I've been in DC. My companion had crabcake-eggs benedict that we just beautiful. We got some oysters, and some dark chocolate as well. It was a great place and I can't wait to go back!


We ate there last night for dinner. It was good, and we look forward to returning. Highlights:

- The Oysters! We sampled all 6 types they had. All were wonderful - the Effingham Bay were the best. $2 each. No discounts for large orders (i.e. by the dozen)

- Good cheap beer on tap. Only $4-6 a pint. Yuengling, Hoegarten, Sierra Nevada, and Brooklyn Lager

- Wine list. Nice selection of good priced wines. Most bottles were about $30. Individual orders (glass) is a very generous pour running between $8-11

- Service. The entire staff was VERY friendly, professional, and knowledgable. Will gladly offer advice on wine pairings and ordering.

What we ordered:
- Oysters on the half-shell: simply amazing
- Fried Calamari: good but typical. the remoulade dipping sauce was fantastic. I'd like to see them offer a grilled calamari special.
- Mahi-Mahi: the dinner special. Was grilled to perfection, nice smoky flavor, and fantastic sauces. The $18 pricetag was surprising since it are served alone
- Old Bay Fries: Very Disappointing. They were dry and flavorless and slightly over cooked.

What Looked Good on Other People's Tables and We'll Order Next Time:
- Mac & Cheese
- Tuna Appetizer: 2 seared generous slices looked wonderful
- Mussels appetizer
- Scallops


I can testify that this is a great neighborhood restaurant, but the greatest find there is the onion rings.


Went there tonight. The oysters were terrific, and the wine list is impressive. I got the seared scallops, which were excellent--the black truffle addition was a terrific earthy contrast. But the "mac and cheesy" needed a lot of salt, and the lobster risotto--which only took about 10 minutes to appear--was alternatively crunchy and mushy. For $24. I'll go back for the simple stuff--definitely the oysters, maybe some simply prepared fish--but I think the fancier stuff is beyond the kitchen's ability to do well.


Last night I ate at Hank's, where I encountered the rudest host I have ever experienced. Here's the story.

I joined a friend for dinner at about 8. My girlfriend came to join us at about 8:45. I warned them that she was coming. When she did arrive, the host stepped in and refused to a) add a chair b) move us to another table or c) offer any apology. He suggested she leave, and that we were asking too much.

I've eaten around DC, and lived in NYC for years. Never has a host been so unaccommodating or so unapologetic.

I liked the atmosphere, but fear we won't be returning, if only because of him. After all, dinner is not only about food, but also a pleasant evening. Hank's would do well to reconsider the host that lacks a sense of hospitality.

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