Judging Restaurants – Hank’s Oyster Bar

Since we learned that Jaime Leeds had sold/closed CommonWealth in order to focus on the Hank’s expansion at 1624 Q Street NW, I figured it’s about time we judged Hank’s. According to the Web site:

“At Hank’s Oyster Bar patrons enjoy coastal favorites and New England beach fare classics like lobster rolls, daily fish specials and meat ‘n’ two. Lightly fried items such as the popcorn shrimp and calamari and Ipswich clams balance Hank’s ice bar options which consist of a selection of raw oysters, tartar and ceviche.”

You can their menu here.

Any fans? Think the expansion will be successful?

38 Comment

  • One of my favorite places in this city!
    I’ll be there for brunch this weekend, sharing the amazing-ness that is sake bloody marys (and sake oyster shooters, and crab cakes benedict, and…) with my out-of-town friends.

  • One of my go-to joints. The only problem is that it’s crowded; hopefully the expansion helps with that.

  • I <3 Hanks!

  • Best oyster po boy in DC, and one of the few places here that successfully executes a bistro-sized menu. Stick with the 17th street location, though, as the service in Alexandria is hit or miss.

    • “Best oyster po boy in DC”

      really ain’t saying much

      • Find me a better one outside of Louisiana.

        • umm, any beach bar in any beach town from florida to maine? my point is that it’s fried oysters; it tastes just about the same everywhere you go. you tend not to see as many oyster shacks anymore due to overfishing and falling off in popularity due to concerns over pollution, bacteria, etc. going back to my original point, saying it’s the best oyster po’boy is meaningless when there are few places that even serve them in DC; it’s also like asking which restaurant serves the best blue crabs in the district.

          anyways, back to the limited menu, fried options, etc, for a better po’boy and everything else, blacksalt is a far better choice than hank’s for the price IMO.

  • How is it that this place is so great, yet CommonWealth was so bad toward the end?

    • I have often wondered this. I <3 Hank's but was consistently underwhelmed w/ Commonwealth, starting with the menu itself.

  • Big, big fan. Dana is a absolutely excellent bartender (especially if you dig the gruff, sarcastic thing), the waitstaff is friendly and helpful, the menu and wine list are more diverse than they look (meat & 2 = awesomeness) and everything is delicious. Winter oyster happy hour with 3 varieties of oysters available for $1 each from 5:30 – 6:30 (no drink specials, unfortunately). BBQd oysters are a less well known, totally awesome option for those not into the raw thing.

    I’m slightly concerned about the expansion and maintaining quality/service but I know they’re working really hard on it. They can definitely fill the extra capacity!

  • Do not understand the gushiness for this place. People on 17th street must be desperate. Most of the seafood is fried (how hard is that?). Prices are ridiculous for the portion size. And service is usually pretty weak.

    Good idea. Bad execution. Weird cult. Not a fan.

  • “Most of the seafood is fried (how hard is that?)”

    The only fried seafood on the menu is oysters. Oysters are 85% water and you have to batter and dunk them cold. Try it for yourself some time if you think it’s easy.

    • “The only fried seafood on the menu is oysters.”

      Popcorn Shrimp & Calamari $10
      Fried Oysters $11
      Oyster Po’ Boy with Cole Slaw $15
      Fried Oyster Dinner $18

      You’re kind of right. Fried oysters just turns up in three different dishes. I guess you probably also think this menu looks good: http://www.ljsilvers.com/menu/

      • Wait, Hank’s OYSTER Bar has oysters on the menu more than once?! Holy crap, stop the presses!

        There are a lot of non-friend seafood items on the menu, but they often come in the form of specials. If you ask me, this makes sense.. the things they promise to have all the time are a little less delicate/seasonal. The things that are freshest and most unusual are served in ways that highlight their natural flavor more.

        • Dude, they really just serve the oysters FRIED and RAW. A menu like that reads like a dumpy beach bar kitchen.

          “The things that are freshest and most unusual are served in ways that highlight their natural flavor more.”

          OK, good to know that the oysters that they serve every day aren’t freshest. Gimme a break. Lotta restaurants in this city serve a far more extensive menu with no problems on freshness. See Hook, DC Coast, Kinkead’s, Blacksalt, etc. Hell, even Johnny’s Half Shell.

          • And BBQ’d 🙂

          • You have definitely never worked in a seafood restaurant. Rotating specials are a reality with seafood, whereas the different varieties of oysters coming in on the market and the more consistent day to day supply stabilizes the price and ensures freshness. Also, you list a bunch of places that are way bigger than Hanks. No shit that if you do 4x as many covers as a hole in the wall you can have more fresh items on the menu, especially if you have a market attached to the restaurant like Blacksalt.

            Also, DC Coast is for suckers.


        I hope we get one of these in Columbia Heights right after that Arby’s opens.

  • LOVE Hank’s Oyster Bar. It may even be my favorite in DC, certainly my favorite in that price range. Everything is tasty, the atmosphere is delightful, and I love the al fresco seating in the summer.

  • Consistently excellent lobster roll.

  • Hanks is Fantastic and way too crowded always, the expansion makes perfect sense.

    The Lobster Rolls are great too, as well the oyster selection is out of sight and so fresh. Frying is an art and Marylanders have a knack for it, Jamie shines at this from my perspective.

    My ‘Hood’ loves Hanks !!

  • The expansion will definitely be successful. Best restaurant on 17th (after Komi obviously and the sushi place) yes a bit pricey but good. Long been wishing they would expand their space and also open a little earlier for an occasional pre-daycare-pickup nibble with hubbie. Bet the Ross Elementary parents would love that too.

  • Hank’s is amazing. Sake Oyster Shooters are basically the best food/drink combo item ever.

    It’s a shame about Commonwealth, but if it allows Hank’s to expand, I’m all for it.

  • Food items there have been well-prepared, but a bit on the pricey side. The place is consistently mobbed — so much so that the only times I have eaten there are within the first 30 minutes of opening on Sunday night and once on Xmas Eve. Menu is fairly limited — my spouse who won’t eat meat or shellfish consistently found little to choose. I doubt the expansion will fully solve the crowding issue, but perhaps it will allow Hank’s to provide a longer menu and finally provide a dessert service consisting of something more than bittersweet chocolate squares.

    • The secret of the Hank’s menu is the “veggie platter.” You actually get to choose any 5 sides you want. It’s a ton of food and a great veggie option.

  • One of my favorite places in the city. The Ipswich clams, bisque, lobster roll or fish are what I usually get. I have not tried the meat dishes but will when I am able to resist the clams. The place is crowded…thats a good thing. Food remains fresh. I call ahead to get on the wait list. I’ve not waited more than 20 minutes for a table. Nice beer and wine list. Hanks rocks.

  • I’ve always wanted to love this place…it’s beautiful and the people watching is first rate but I have consistently been underwhelmed by the food. If I’m ever on death row, my last meal will be an oyster po’boy but I defo wouldn’t order from Hanks’s.

  • Overpriced and small portions.

  • A fine place, but I’d trade it in for the Trios sub shop in a second. The ratio of expensive yuppie chow to excellent drink food is getting way out of balance in this town.

    Plus, I can shuck my own oysters.

  • My only experience at this place was awful. That staff was incredibly rude and insulting. They were unwilling to accommodate a simple dietary restriction (just a “hold the X”, not a complicated request or anything), and made a scene about the request that was completely unnecessary. I considered contacting the management/ownership after leaving, but decided never going back was all I cared about. The food itself, when we finally got to that part, was decent but not amazing. One item was very noticeably undercooked. The food may be slightly above average, but it is nowhere near worth how seriously they take themselves, how pricy it is, and how much attention it gets!

    • So, you got your request during a time when they were slammed, ate it without complaining, and then you don’t have the backbone to complain in person? This reads like half of the crappy reviews on Yelp. Stay home, lots of calcium, and grow a backbone already.

      • They weren’t slammed at the time (and if they were, wouldn’t putting fewer things on my plate actually save time?), I did not eat it without complaining, I did complain in person–just did not follow up after. Now there is a request for opinions on this restaurant and I gave my opinion. If having a backbone means ridiculing people on blogs for no reason, yours must be huge, tough guy. What is wrong with you?

        • Wow, the insufferable Hank’s supporters really come out in droves. Totally trained to puff up any solicitation for opinions on the restaurant and attack the criticism. If only they could train their servers to do their job as well.

  • If you are into seafood you will like hanks. We love it for the wonderful food, casual atmosphere and friendly service. The host and wait staff are knowledgable and pleasant. Get the sake oyster shooters.

Comments are closed.