Oyster Oyster: A Garden of Good Eating in Shaw

Oyster Oyster chef/owner Rob Rubba. Photo: Alexander Padro, Courtesy Shaw Main Streets.

When a restaurant earns a Michelin star, was a finalist for a James Beard Award nomination for Best New Restaurant, gets listed #1 in the Washington Post dining guide and as one of Esquire magazine’s Best New Restaurants in America, you know you’re in for a treat. Even if you aren’t vegetarian or vegan, the local, sustainable, plant-based cuisine at Shaw’s Oyster Oyster (1440 8th Street NW) is an eye-opener.

Some guests expect a restaurant called Oyster Oyster to be doubling down on the bivalve, but the name is a nod to both oyster mushrooms and the shellfish. The restaurant, which the Washington Post’s food writer calls “a garden of good eating in Shaw,” features a seasonal vegetarian and vegan tasting menu, with an optional oyster offering included.

Rob Rubba, Oyster Oyster’s owner/chef, has been in DC for nearly 10 years, most recently at Hazel in Shaw, after stints in New York, Chicago and Philadelphia. Rubba and his business partner Max Kuller connected over the goal of working toward a more sustainable restaurant concept.

“I personally wanted to be a more sustainable human being, and working in restaurants can be very unsustainable in terms of waste and ingredients and can have a big impact on our environment,” Rubba recalled. “Basically, it put me on this track to see if we could build a restaurant as sustainably as possible, but still provide that luxury in life of being able to go out and have a really fun dining experience.”

Local sourcing drives the creation of both the menu and operations at Oyster Oyster. They focus on local produce, from the mid-Atlantic region, cooking with all the ingredients from here and utilizing as many sustainable practices as possible while eliminating single use plastics in our restaurant.

The restaurant’s relationship with the community began in the early days of the pandemic when they were providing take out.

“Being able to provide something comforting for everyone during those hard times in the early days of the pandemic was extremely important,” Rubba remembered. “We got to know a lot of our neighbors.”

He said that the community has continued to be incredibly supportive of their sustainable, local approach to food and described the restaurant’s clientele as a “revolving door” of regular customers coming to dine from the neighborhood. That’s no surprise when that revolving door leads to food by the winner of a RAMMY award for Chef of the Year and a Food & Wine magazine Best New Chef nod.

Oyster Oyster is open Tuesday through Saturday, with tasting menu seatings from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. For more information, visit oysteroysterdc.com.