food&wine RESTAURANT SCOUT

Hank's Oyster Bar

1026 King St.
Alexandria, VA 22314
703-739-4265
www.hanksdc.com

CUISINE Seafood, American, International

PRICE $$ ($13-$20)

HOURS Open for lunch Friday, dinner, Tuesday through Sunday, brunch Saturday and Sunday.

DELIVERY No

TAKEOUT No

NVM AWARDS Best Restaurant 2007
Best Restaurant 2008
Best Restaurant 2009
Best Restaurant 2010
Best Restaurant 2011
Best Restaurant 2012

NEARBY METRO Blue Line(King Street) Yellow Line(King Street)

SPECIAL FEATURES

Lunch
Brunch
Dinner
Reservations
Outdoor Dining
Accepts Credit Cards



Write a Review

NVM Review

(April 2010)

By Warren Rojas

Whether you come in search of discount drinks, eats or aphrodisiacs, Hank’s late-night menu (available 11 p.m.-1 a.m., Friday and Saturday) has got you covered.

One-dollar oysters—freshly shucked specimens include Rappahannock River and Olde Salt oysters from here in Virginia—are top sellers. But don’t miss chef/owner Jamie Leeds’ chili-powdered chicken (dark meat fried to a ruddy finish and served with zesty remoulade).

(November 2010)

By Warren Rojas

Food: 7.7 Ambiance: 7.0 Service: 6.8

For those who don’t know, Hank’s chef/owner Jamie Leeds has instituted a special late-night menu (kicks in after 11 p.m. on weekends) custom tailored toward: 1) stemming the tide of inebriation by soaking all previously ingested booze with finger-licking-good fried foods, 2) jump-starting desire with $1 aphrodisiacs (local and imported oysters), or 3) riding the wave into complete obliteration with discount drafts.

That, coupled with the addition of “Taco Tuesdays”—gourmet tacos AND cut-rate Tecates? You really shouldn’t have—should rocket Hank’s right near the top of anyone’s “most bang for your buck” short list.

Raw squid, shrimp and scallops mingle with minced onions, peppers and lemon juice in a laudable ceviche.

Grilled tilapia, zesty remoulade and crème fraiche make themselves at home in crispy homemade taco shells (serious crunch).

Slow-cooked ribs, brushed in sweetish molasses, shred like tissue paper.

(November 2009)

By Warren Rojas

Food: 7.8 Ambiance: 7.1 Service: 7.1

Seafood lovers continue to roll into Hank’s—washing away any trace of the fried specimens and briny goodies the quaint seafood hut strives so hard to present on a daily basis with the abandon of a retreating tide.

Chef/owner Jamie Leeds prizes function over form. Which means those turned off by bare wooden tables and cramped quarters need not apply. The rest of us, on the other hand, can enjoy the likes of $1 happy hour oysters (plucked from ocean beds the world over) and can count on greasy bottles of London Pub malt vinegar and Tabasco never being far from reach.

Near-blackened crab cakes are threaded with lemon and egg and flanked by a sassy slaw (homemade tartar sauce injects zing).

The kitchen extends some love to the garden with a grilled zucchini-and-eggplant creation fortified by lurid amounts of olive oil, sea salt and smoked provolone.

Seared scallops married to meaty shiitakes consummate their savory union beneath the cover of pureed cauliflower (marvelous).

(November 2008)

By Warren Rojas

Food: 7.9 Ambiance: 7.3 Service: 7.1

Just to the left of the typically cramped “bar” at chef/owner Jamie Leed’s Virginia-based seafood retreat sits a copy of author Rowan Jacobsen’s valentine to bivalves, “A Geography of Oysters.”

Pretty hefty reading for your average mortal. But probably old hat for a veteran shucker like Leeds.

Her Alexandria outpost remains a popular destination for local seafood lovers, even if Leeds has since turned her attention to debut D.C. gastropub, CommonWealth.

Not that Hank’s requires much hand-holding anymore.

Homemade ceviche bathes fresh fish, shrimp and calamari in a stunning citrus-jalapeno essence (invigorating). A bountiful seafood Cobb spreads chilled shrimp, lemony calamari rings, chopped beets, tomatoes, cucumber and crumbled bacon across chopped greens. Meanwhile, chimichurri-covered steak (beef is two fingers thick; herb sauce is pleasantly zesty) would fit right in at any local steakhouse.

(December 2007)

By Warren Rojas

Food: 8.1 Ambiance: 7.2 Service: 7.1

First came Cathal Armstrong’s fried everything emporium, Eamonn’s. Now we have our own branch of chef Jamie Leeds’ quirky, New England-style seafood shack, Hank’s Oyster Bar.

My poor arteries ache. But it truly hurts so good.

The lightning bolt-shaped Alexandria location features about a dozen seats up front, a central bar and a few more tables in back. Flickering tea lights and tulip-filled shot glasses masquerade as modern decor. Most nights, the crowd includes shorts-clad boomers and baby-toting Xers who take the longish waits in stride by sipping wine on the front steps.

Crunchy goldfish crackers preface every meal, while fresh oysters from all around the country—Washington, Rhode Island, California and, of course, Virginia—are advertised alongside daily blackboard specials.

Baskets of fried Ipswich clams (joyously crunchy) tend to disappear quickly when dining with friends. An intriguing blend of bluepoint oysters, Bloody Mary mix and sake almost always turns heads and invites conversation. The signature lobster roll mixes succulent meat with celery, onions and mayo, heaps the chilled seafood medley into a buttery roll, then seals the deal with Old Bay-spiced fries (great deep brown spuds). Sablefish arrives seared in a soy-balsamic glaze that caramelizes on top while injecting smokiness within.

Budget-friendly wines abound (bottles peak at $80 for Veuve Clicquot Champagne), but many dishes seem to call out for a nice cold beer (check out the craft brew selection).

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