Baked XO Oysters at The Salt Line
Baked XO Oysters at The Salt Line Credit: Laura Hayes

D.C. is oyster obsessed, so much so that starting Thursday, Nationals fans will be able to slurp them at the ballpark in sections 108 and 238. The versatility of the bivalve is boundless, from raw oysters perked up with stinging mignonettes to luscious fried oysters nestled in pillowy po-boys. But the preparations that deserve more love are the baked, broiled, and grilled varieties. In early spring, when the days are warm and nights are nippy, here are five places to enjoy buttery, still simmering oysters on the half shell. 

Roy Boys ($14 for four)

2108 8th St. NW

Oysters Rockefeller is such a signature and historic New Orleans dish that it’s hard to imagine it originated out of a shortage of snails for escargot. The preparation was created by Antoine Alciatore in 1899. His restaurant, Antoine’s, has been open since 1840. The original Oysters Rockefeller recipe is supposedly secret, so restaurants must wing it. Roy Boys tops the baked oysters with spinach, shallots, garlic, lemon panko Parmesan, and Pernod cream. 

The Salt Line ($16 for six)

79 Potomac Ave. SE

Chef Kyle Bailey serves a half dozen baked oysters topped with housemade XO sauce, bacon, ginger, cilantro, sesame, and garlic bread crumbs. He uses Skipjack oysters harvested by famed local waterman Bunky Chance and serves them on vintage plates one of his business partners found while antiquing. They’re accompanied by a lime wedge, which compliments the Asian flavors of the XO sauce. 

Pearl Dive Oyster Palace ($11 for four)

1612 14th St. NW

Pearl Dive didn’t invent Angels on Horseback, a dish that calls for bacon-wrapped oysters. The snack dates back to Victorian-era England. It first appeared in a cookbook, Savouries Simplified, in 1905. Pearl Dive jazzes them up with vin blanc and a vinegar reduction for pops of acid. 

Hank’s Oyster Bar ($18 for six)

Multiple locations

The Hog Island-style barbecue oysters have been on the menu at Hank’s Oyster Bar since the restaurant opened. They’re Chef Jamie Leeds’ take on the grilled oysters served at iconic San Francisco restaurant, Hog Island Oyster Co. TABASCO Sauce gives the broiled oysters their signature kick.

Rappahannock Oyster Bar at The Wharf ($17 for six or $32 for 12)

1150 Maine Ave. SW

Wharf newcomer Rappahannock Oyster Bar serves a classic rendition of charbroiled oysters using their proprietary oyster. Chefs top the Rappahannocks with herbed butter, Parmesan cheese, and basil panko breadcrumbs. Pair them with a high-acid white wine to balance out the buttery finish. 

Other places to try baked, broiled, or grilled oysters: Old Ebbitt Grill, Johnny’s Half Shell, Republic, The Grilled Oyster Company, Union District Oyster Bar & Lounge.