By Laura Hayes
A primer on Virginia’s native oysters and where to slurp them:
Rappahannocks are ideal starter oysters for newbies because of their low salinity level and signature sweetness, but they’re still complex, creamy and finish clean, says Brine executive chef John Critchley.
Find it: Brine, Copperwood Tavern, Heavy Seas Alehouse, Jackson 20, PassionFish Reston, Trummer’s on Main
From: Tom’s Cove
These robust beauties are briny with only a hint of sweetness, making for a balanced bite, says Mussel Bar and Grille chef de cuisine Charlie Vogt.
Find it: Ford’s Fish Shack, Mussel Bar and Grille, Social Restaurant & Oyster Bar
From: Mobjack Bay
The small bay that’s home to Stingray oysters sees influence from both salt and freshwater, giving the oysters a desirable flavor balance between creaminess and brininess and a crisp cucumber finish, says PassionFish executive chef Chris Clime.
Find it: PassionFish Reston
One of Virginia’s briniest, these large oysters taste like a gulp of the ocean with a lettuce-like finish, says PassionFish executive chef Chris Clime.
Find it: Brine, PassionFish Reston
From: Nomini Creek
Grown specifically for Hank’s Oyster Bar, Hayden’s Reef oysters are plump, meaty and finish on a savory note—a combination of light peat moss and a hint of mushroom, says chef and owner Jamie Leeds.
Find it: Hank’s Oyster Bar
Oyster Restaurant Roundup:
Brine: 2985 District Ave.
Copperwood Tavern: 4021 Campbell Ave., Arlington
Ford’s Fish Shack: 44260 Ice Rink Plaza, Ashburn
Hank’s Oyster Bar: 1026 King St., Alexandria
Heavy Seas Alehouse: 1501 Wilson Blvd., Arlington
Jackson 20: 480 King St., Alexandria
Mussel Bar and Grille: 800 N. Glebe Road, Arlington
PassionFish Reston: 11960 Democracy Drive, Reston
Social Restaurant & Oyster Bar: 1307 Old Chain Bridge Road, McLean
Trummer’s on Main: 7134 Main St., Clifton