Image: Oyster Po Boy
Last Updated: August 2022
Current Status: They are open at the Wharf 7 days a week for dine-in. They also do take-out. The Union Market location closed August 13, 2022.
Overview: There are two locations of Rappahannock Oyster Bar in D.C. The original is a counter and dining space set out as you enter Union Market. Among the commotion, you can order drinks and food while directly looking into the cooking area. The other location is a cozy, converted shack on the fish market end of the increasingly-homogenized and pasteurized Wharf development. Both locations deliver very good takes on casual seafood.
As you would expect, the focus is on the company’s own oysters that they serve raw, grilled, or fried. Pandemic and supply-chain issues have shortened the menu (it appears the legendary Lambs and Clams dish is gone, but maybe that was pre-pandemic). Soup, Shrimp, Po Boys, crabcakes plus a burger (praised by Tom in the Post) anchor the more substantial dishes. Cocktails, beer and wine are all available. Hopefully, the more robust menu that Chef Autumn Cline developed a couple years ago with re-emerge, or another chef will be able to put their stamp on the place. In either case, the kitchen rests on solid footing even with a narrowed focus.
The restaurants are an outgrowth of the company that took over their family oyster farm in 2001 hoping to reverse the collapsing harvest. The effort worked. According to the website, a decade later, “Virginia is seeing harvest tallies not witnessed in a generation, and she now leads the entire East Coast in oyster production.” In 2011, they moved to open a venue for direct sales. Starting with a “tasting room” near the business in Topping, Va., they added the first D.C. restaurant in Union Market in 2012. Since then, they have added the second D.C. location, Richmond, Charleston, and even a West Coast outpost.
Note: If you are coming from a distance, be aware that parking at The Wharf is terrible, and on concert nights at the Anthem it is near impossible within a quarter of a mile. L’Enfant Metro and the Mall is about a 15 minute walk.
Union Market (Closed): 1309 5th St NE, Washington, DC 20002
Wharf: 150 Maine Avenue Washington DC 20024
Washington Post: 2.0 from Tom.
Washingtonian: #41 in 2019; #44 in 2018. Wharf location preview.
Michelin: Entry for Union Market. No mention of the sibling location. Another reminder that Michelin mails in its D.C. work.