400 North Capitol St. NW
HOURS: Mon.-Fri. 7-9:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.,
and 4:30-10 p.m., Sat. 5-10 p.m.
COST: Most entrées more than $20
Cocktails flow freely from morning until closing time at Johnny’s Half Shell, a seafood house on the Capitol’s Senate side that brings the atmosphere and menu of the Big Easy to Washington.
Politicos and media execs love Johnny’s, which features retro octagonal tile floors, a lively bar, friendly waitstaff, and at peak hours, a clamorous crowd. Piano music floats through the dining room at lunch, and live jazz energizes the joint on weekends.
The menu leans heavily toward southern Louisiana’s creole and Cajun styles, with a dash of Chesapeake Bay thrown in. Popular eats include creamy étouffée, crab cakes (heavy on the crab, light on any filling), and barbecue crabs in season.
This is the go-to place for anyone in DC craving an authentic po’boy; chef-owner Ann Cashion flies in the real deal’s key ingredient, the crusty, airy, never-duplicated French bread, from Leidenheimer Baking Company in New Orleans and serves them with fried shrimp, oysters, or brisket with debris.