Willie T's Lobster Shack, which opened last week in the former Marvelous Market space near Dupont Circle, is D.C.'s newest source for fast-casual crustaceans in buttery rolls. The menu is simple: Lobster, crab and shrimp rolls are front and center, with sides including clam chowder, salad and Cape Cod chips.
At $16, Willie T's is a dollar more expensive than Luke's Lobster and Red Hook, for those tracking the price of D.C.'s lobster rolls. But they don't skimp on the claw meat, which is doused in a house-made herbal mayonnaise. If you're avoiding gluten, all of the rolls can be served as a lettuce wrap instead. And for dessert, whoopie pies come in mini and large sizes.
The restaurant is the newest brand from the group that owns Austin Grill, American Tap House, and others. Inside, the "shack" part of the name is taken quite literally: To order, you walk up to a shack that contains the kitchen. On the side, there's a long counter with tall stools, covered by a canopy of nets. And a word-art mural asks several questions about lobsters -- "Do lobsters have teeth?" "What color is a lobster's blood?" -- but does not provide any answers. So, for inquiring future Willie T's customers: Yes, a lobster has teeth, but in its stomach (called the "gastric mill"), and its blood is colorless, but turns blue when exposed to oxygen. If that's kind of icky, well, I guess that's why the restaurant's muralists left us hanging. Bon appetit!
Willie T's Lobster Shack, 1511 Connecticut Ave. NW. 202-332-3690.