Hot Spot Restaurant in Old Town Alexandria: Hank’s Oyster Bar

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If you’re an oyster lover like me, Hank’s Oyster Bar is the place to go in the Northern Virginia area. I came across this place after a spa appointment while I was exploring the local neighborhood.  This restaurant favorite is nestled in the heart of the historic neighborhood of Old Town Alexandria in Virginia. It’s surrounded by tons of cute shops that sell furniture, paintings, antiques, clothing and more. Once you walk into Hank’s Oyster Bar, someone will greet you at the door. Don’t be surprised if it’s pretty busy on a Friday or Saturday night. Usually, if there’s a wait, you can grab a drink at the bar. They have a wide range of reasonably priced drink selections.

While walking to your seat, you’ll notice different chalkboards displayed on the walls that list the oyster menus for the day. The oysters are brought in fresh daily. Once you’re seated, the waiter will bring you a small bowl of goldfish crackers for you to munch on while you decide on your dish. I think the goldfish crackers are such a nice touch, because it brings me back to my childhood days of eating the same snack. The menu offers a variety of other dishes if you’re not an oyster lover, or if you want to add to your meal. One of my favorite dishes is the lobster roll with Old Bay seasoned fries. Yum!

Ordering oysters is not intuitive for everyone. If you are beginner, then you’re in good hands with the knowledgeable wait staff—they’ll walk you through each section. I’ve definitely been to some restaurants where the waiter has no clue and is not very helpful—this is not the case at Hank’s. Before ordering, the waiter will walk you through each option and give you a good descriptor of each choice. For example, “sweet” — when the oyster is somewhat mild and sweet instead of too salty versus “copper” — when oysters have a very strong, acidic or rusty flavor. No worries if you can’t decide what to go with—just order a mixed platter to sample each one! I usually start by ordering a mix, and once I figure out my favorites, I’ll go back and order more.

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Once they bring out your oyster platter, it will be accompanied by lemons, horseradish, malt vinegar, and cocktail sauce. If you want to add a little extra kick, then ask for the Tabasco sauce! I love to make a mix out of all the ingredients, and sprinkle a touch on top of the oyster. You’ll want to avoid putting too much of these ingredients on the oyster because it will overpower the actual flavor of the oyster. In my opinion, the sauces are there to give a little extra boost, and that’s it.

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Check please! I love that the check arrives with a sweet surprise. The waiter brings out a bowl of rich dark chocolate with your bill. Beyond dark chocolate being good for both your heart and stress levels, it’s definitely a nice touch to end your meal at Hank’s Oyster Bar! To check out more about this restaurant, visit Hank’s Oyster Bar.

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