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Johnny’s Half Shell
400 N. Capitol St., NW (Capitol Hill)
(1) 202-737-0400 | www.johnnyshalfshell.net
HOURSMon.: 11:30am-2:30pm, 4:30pm-10:00pm; Tue.-Fri.: 11:30am-2:30pm; 4:30-10:00pm; Sat.: 5:00pm-10:00pm; Sun.: Closed
BEST FORBreakfast; lunch; dinner
BARYes - bright and lively bar
YEAR OPENED1999, relocated in 2006
PRICE (NEW ENGLAND LOBSTER ROLL; SPICY MAINE LOBSTER)USD 24.50; USD 35.50
FAMOUS PLATESCharbroiled Chesapeake oysters; crab cakes; spicy Maine lobster
DRINKS AND WINEExtensive wines, cocktails, beers
# OF SEATS350
OUTDOOR DINING?Yes - outdoor terrace
PRIVATE ROOM AVAILABLE?Yes - dining rooms can be reserved
Cool jazz in the background, a lively bar, and the smell of buttery seafood, all within a clamshell’s throw of the U.S. Capitol—that sums up Johnny’s Half Shell on a typical night. Their seafood and wine offerings are certainly some of the best in DC, and while they come without all the pomp and circumstance of a typical Capitol Hill powerhouse restaurant (don’t worry, there’s still some of that), this is still a Hill favorite.
Capitol Hill big shots; theater-goers; nine-to-five working set for happy hour
WHAT WE WOULD WEAR
Something comfortable yet smart. For lunch, perhaps a cute sleeveless blouse, bright cropped trousers, and flats. At dinner, we’d dress it up a bit with a skirt and cute wedges or, if coming straight from work, a stylish suit.
GO HERE WITH
A date; significant other; colleagues post-work for happy hour
WHY WE LIKE IT
We love that this place is more about the food than the schmooze, even though it’s set among the power players on Capitol Hill. Also, the vibrant happy hour scene is perfect for after-work drinks. The space is large, but it’s not too hard to find a table in a cozy nook, or better yet, a seat within earshot of the Saturday night jazz band.
WHAT WE WOULD CHANGE
We enjoy the current location, though it doesn’t have the same sense of intimacy that their old Dupont Circle digs did (and which we adored).
GOOD TO KNOW
It’s no surprise that this restaurant has succeeded under the leadership of chef Ann Cashion; she aims for perfection in her kitchen and frequently reaches it. Although the dining room is divine, we hear people rave almost as much about the happy hour bar bites (served 4:30pm-7:30pm). And with these snacks starting at USD 3, we can understand why; they’re a great alternative when we’re not in the mood to drop USD 18-40 on a dinner entrée. Another good option for indulging without going overboard budget-wise is the “pre-theater” three-course dinner, which is USD 35 and available from 5:00pm-6:30pm. Also, check out the live jazz on Saturday evenings from 6:00pm-10:00pm. There is free validated parking after 5:00pm. For takeout, check out the adjacent Johnny’s Take Out, which offers breakfast and lunch (no dinner!). You can order online via the website.
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