Some of my favorite dishes at Hank’s include the crabcake platter (ask for it- it’s not on the menu) and I always have to get the decadent mac and cheesy side which is worth every bite and all of the calories. I also enjoy the miso glazed sablefish and of course you can’t go wrong with oysters, clams, or the classic lobster roll. The only complaint people have had about Hank’s over the years is the fact that it is small, and therefore can create a very long wait for a table without a comfortable area to hang out in given the size limitations. So, when news broke a few years back that Chef/Owner Jaime Leeds was looking to expand, fans of Hank’s were delighted to hear the news. It was not the easiest process for Hank’s to get all the permitting they needed, but as of this month Hank’s Oyster Bar is now operating with its original dining room, a new large bar, a new snazzy lounge, an upstairs Charcuterie Room (Charc Room for short), and a private Yacht Room that can seat up to 30 guests and can be rented out for parties and private events.
The renovated space was designed by O’Neill Studios and they did a wonderful job of giving each room its own unique flair while still allowing the overall space to flow nicely together. I loved the Yacht Room which is modeled after the interior of an expensive ship with cutout windows, padded vinyl walls, and beautifully mismatched dining furniture all in gray and white hues. The space is elegant and nautical and I already decided I’ll likely rent it out for my birthday in January (I like to think ahead).
Now time for the food. We were dazzled with a wide variety of oysters that included the West and East Coast, but the special oysters of note are the Hayden’s Reef which are named after Jamie’s son. Jamie and her team actually built their own oyster reef out in Virginia with the help of an oyster farmer and the first batch of 750,000 came in just a week or two ago and we were able to sample these large and luscious bad boys. We also dug into the truffled popcorn, the homemade potato chips with a deliciously creamy onion dip, soft pretzels with a homemade beer cheese sauce (I asked for a straw), a fantastic cheese and charcuterie plate, ceviche, shrimp cocktail, and a wonderful special of tuna and watermelon tatare. I also loved the smoked oysters that were playfully presented in a tin with saltine crackers. Everything was delightful, and Jamie was very generous to come spend some time with us to talk through the new space and the menu. She also made great cocktail recommendations. I had two Hanky Panky’s and could have easily had a third but knew that was a bad idea. The cocktail was crafted with care by the mixologist Megan Coyle and included housemade Limoncello, citrus Vodka, and a splash of Cava.
One of the best things about the newly renovated Hank’s Oyster Bar is the fact that the lounge has a permit to stay open until 3 A.M. on Saturday’s and Sunday’s which is rare in the Dupont Circle area. I can speak for those of us who live in the area by saying we are thrilled that this already fabulous neighborhood institution has just gotten even better. The food remains as good as ever, and the space has just elevated Hank’s to new heights allowing for a comfortable gathering place for any occasion. I hope to head back there this weekend.
Hank’s Oyster Bar
1624 Q Street NW
Washington, DC 20009