Photo: Fiola Mare’s Facebook

10 Raw Bars to Keep You Cool this Summer

When patio weather hits, our taste buds immediately start to crave cold, briny oysters, sweet, chilled lobster meat and bright, zingy ceviches. The clean and refreshing flavors from raw bar menus are just perfect for outdoor dining, so this month we’re highlighting our favorites – many of which have stellar al fresco seating. You’ll want to chill out at these 10 raw bars all summer long.

This pearl hidden inside Alta Strada in City Vista is not your typical raw bar. Michael Schlow’s intimate 31-seat restaurant offers three tasting menus nightly, each featuring intriguing crudo dishes with seafood, vegetables and meats. As such, there’s not a whole lot of actual cooking that takes place in the kitchen, which consists of just a toaster oven, an induction burner and a rice cooker. Though the dishes change regularly, a few highlights have included uni flan with crab espuma and lobster roe powder and razor clam poke with mint, grapefruit, orange, rice masago and chili paste. 465 K St. NW, DC;

Fiola Mare
Of course, Fabio and Maria Trabocchi’s lavish ode to the sea has a top-notch raw bar menu. It features frutti di mare platters with delicacies like tiger prawns, sea urchin, king crab, caviar, scallops, mussels, langoustine, lobster and more. Diners can also order oysters by the half dozen and four types of high-quality caviar. The restaurant’s beautiful terrace right on the Potomac River will make you feel like you’re dining on the coast of Italy. 3050 K St. Suite 101, NW, DC;

Hank’s Oyster Bar
Take your pick from the three DMV locations of this staple oyster bar. The original Dupont Circle restaurant has six seats at the raw bar, where you can watch the oyster shuckers go through about 1,500 oysters a day on average. You could also sit on the 40-seat patio and down a few sake oyster shooters. The raw bar at Hank’s on the Hill is on a raised platform, so every seat in the house has a view. There’s also a small outdoor patio where you’ll want to tackle the seafood plateau with oysters, jumbo shrimp cocktail, ceviche, middle neck clams, Old Bay peel-and-eat shrimp and chilled lobster. In Old Town Alexandria, be sure to try Hank’s proprietary oyster, the Salty Wolfe. Dupont Circle: 1624 Q St. NW, DC; Capitol Hill: 633 Pennsylvania Ave. SE, DC; Old Town Alexandria: 1026 King St. Alexandria, VA;

Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab
The namesake stone crab is the signature crustacean at this seafood spot. Joe’s founders popularized these unique crabs in the early 1900s when they began serving the claws on the front porch of their house in Miami Beach. Stone crabs can regenerate their claws, so fishermen harvest one claw at a time and then throw the crab back into the Gulf of Mexico. The raw bar menu also goes beyond the Florida favorite, with jumbo Alaskan king crab, East Coast oysters, jumbo shrimp cocktail, ceviche and more. 750 15th St. NW, DC;

Le Diplomate
Every meal at this classic French café should start with one of the loaded seafood plateaus. The towers feature several unique mollusks, shellfish and crustaceans that you don’t typically find on a raw bar menu. The petit and grand plateaus feature varying quantities of oysters from both coasts, little neck clams, top neck clams, razor clams, king crab, snow crab, jumbo lump crab meat, lobster, Blue Bay mussels, shrimp, fluke and welks. It’s all served with mignonette, cocktail sauce and French cocktail sauce. For a true Parisian experience, enjoy your plateau on the sidewalk patio while watching the world go by. 1601 14th St. NW, DC;

Old Ebbitt Grill
This historic tavern is a mainstay for oysters, especially during oyster happy hour. All oysters are 50 percent off daily from 3-6 p.m. and 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. (2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday). Between daily service and special events like the International Wines for Oyster Competition and Oyster Riot, Old Ebbitt goes through an impressive number of oysters. But don’t worry, the shells go to good use after they’re slurped clean. The restaurant group works with the Oyster Recovery Partnership (ORP) to recycle shells and create reefs that will support future oysters in the Chesapeake Bay region. 675 15th St. NW, DC;

Pearl Dive Oyster Palace
Oysters are king at Black Restaurant Group’s Pearl Dive. In addition to a selection of East and West Coast varieties, the group has joined forces with Rappahannock Oyster Company to raise a signature oyster, the Old Black Salt. Grown in the salty waters of Black Narrows in Chincoteague, these oysters have one of the highest salinities of any oyster on the market. Enjoy a few on the half shell, along with a bounty of other sustainably harvested seafood, at the four-seat raw bar inside or on the compact patio. 1612 14th St. NW, DC;

Rappahannock Oyster Bar
No visit to Union Market is complete without a stop at the raw bar owned by the pioneering Rappahannock Oyster Company. Their sustainable oyster production has helped revitalize the native Chesapeake Bay oyster population, and they’ve since set their sights on doing the same for the Chesapeake scallop. At the oyster bar, you can sample the company’s own oysters, as well as seafood platters and plenty of cooked seafood dishes. After you order, you can take your food and eat at the communal tables outside the market. 1309 5th St. NE, DC;

Siren by Robert Wiedmaier
This featured spot in our New, Notable, No Longer column happens to have a stellar raw bar. The crown jewel of these offerings is the Grand Plateau: two tiers of oysters, little neck clams, Skull Island prawns, Maine lobster and sashimi. They also have beautiful caviar service and a handful of raw small plates, like big eye tuna with kalamansi lime, sesame seed, wakame seaweed, macadamia nut and avocado mousse, and fluke tiradito with yellow pepper juice, pickled vegetables and smoked trout roe. 1515 Rhode Island Ave. NW, DC;

As a partner of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch, Whaley’s only serves seafood that meets the program’s stringent sustainability standards. They also recycle their oyster shells with ORP. This means you can slurp oysters and crack crab legs knowing that you’re helping ensure a healthy ocean for future generations. For even more eco points, try Whaley’s propriety River Keeper oyster from Rappahannock Oyster Company; the proceeds benefit Anacostia Riverkeeper. There are also epic seafood towers with gems like smoked catfish rillettes, grilled calamari salad, sea urchin, little neck clams, poached mussels, shrimp, lobster and crudo of the day. You’ll want to dine on the spacious patio with views of the waterfront. 301 Water St. Suite 115, SE, DC;

Lani Furbank

Lani Furbank is a freelance food, drinks, and lifestyle writer based in the D.C. area. She was born and raised in Northern Virginia, but stays true to her Welsh-Taiwanese heritage by exploring new places and experimenting with recipes from around the world. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @lanifurbank or read her work at