Steamer crabs, shrimp and Virginia Littleneck clams at The Argonaut on H Street
Where there was fire, now there is steam.
In rebuilding after a devastating blaze, the owners of The Argonaut did not simply recreate the restaurant's menu. Instead, they expanded the newly reopened tavern's offerings to include a focus on excellent seafood that--unlike most bar bites--is steamed rather than fried.
The new steamer pots are filled exclusively with sustainable, local fish, and the portions are large enough for two or three people to share.
A full pound of peeler shrimp ($21) arrives dusted with spicy Creole seasoning that lures out the shrimps' natural sweetness. Littleneck clams ($19) from Virginia bask in white wine and sage, each heightening the tiny mollusks' brininess.
The menu also includes a rotating steamer special, currently a collection of spindly Dungeness crab legs ($22). For a larger meal, diners can add both corn and herbed red potatoes for $2 to any steamer order.
Should steaming be too healthy a tack for you, we recommend starting a meal with Argonaut classics, including crisped sweet potato fries with coriander aioli ($6) and wings lacquered with chocolate and stout beer ($9).
The Argonaut, 1433 Maryland Ave. NE (at H St.); 202-250-3660 or argonautdc.com