DC at Night

DC at Night

Monday, September 24, 2012

Fishing for Hidden Treasure

Every great tourist city like Washington D.C. has some marvelous places that, for one reason or another, remain pretty much for locals only. For example, nature lovers in the DC area know that they can find plenty of natural serenity on the usually deserted Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Island in the middle of the Potomac River.

And then there's the Maine Avenue Fish Market, also known as Fisherman's Wharf or just the Wharf.

Located in the southwestern section of the city, the market is situated just under the shadow of Interstate 395 and can lay claim to be the oldest continuously operating fish market in America. Opened in 1805, the local market is 17 years older than the famed Fulton Fish Market in New York City. And although it is located within sight of the Washington and Jefferson monuments and walking distance of 2 Metro stations, it is one of the few historic sites in the city where locals can browse without encountering mobs of tourists.

Now this is choice
The market, which features 10 different stores, is open 7 days a week, but the largest selection of fish is available on the weekends. As you stroll, you will find rows of crab, shrimp, clams, and mussels in a variety of sizes and shades. There are all kinds of local fish, as well as several more exotic varieties to appeal to DC's multi-ethnic population.

You can select seafood to take home with you in large paper bags. Or you can have your seafood prepared on site. But fancy isn't the way here. With the exception of a few tables, you will be required to eat your lunch or dinner standing up at high tables. And if you order crabs, it helps to be handy with a wooden mallet. Metal nutcrackers are a no-no.

Cleaning our crabs for dinner
The taste and quality of the Fish Market has been documented by no less of an authority than food writer and Travel Channel commentator Anthony Bourdain. You can check out Bourdain's take by clicking here.

But even though this a not a tourist designation, like other DC landmarks, the Fish Market has been a setting for some major Hollywood films. The most recent was the 2009 political thriller State of Play starring Russell Crowe, Rachel McAdams, and Ben Affleck. To read a blog to find out what it is a like to eat crab balls with Russell Crowe, click here.
Tales, Tips, and Tidbits
Oriental lunch is served
While we enjoyed the floating docks of the Fish Market and strolling along the walkways to check out all kinds of private vessels from small speedboats to large houseboats, we did have one problem. We were planning on buying a couple dozen crabs for dinner. But we came at lunchtime. We were hungry, but we didn't want to have America-style seafood for lunch and dinner. Fortunately, there was a solution. Right next to the market area is Jenny's Asian Fusion restaurant, which received 4 stars from both Urban Spoon and Trip Adviser. So what did we have? I had Jenny's special lo mein noodle soup with seafood and fresh vegetables. Judy had miso soup. We split the sampler plate which included spring rolls, cream cheese wontons, Oriental baked mussels, Chinese stuffed clams, crab pearls, and spicy salt and pepper calamari. So how was it? We both agreed 4 stars was about right.

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