When you’re travelling to D.C., often times they overlook the places frequented by residents that might not be so glamorous and well-known but offer a unique experience of our city. The Maine Avenue Fish Market just south of the Mall is one such place. The market displays fresh seafood daily in the morning into the midafternoon, attracting locals in search of the best deal on crabs and fresh-shucked oysters and clams. What makes the Fish Wharf special? For one, it’s the oldest open-air fish market in the United States – slinging grouper since 1805. Some even say the ghost of pirate Saul “Gunpowder” Bellamy wanders the barges at night searching for the best deals on monkfish. Okay, only I say that just now… but the Wharf has a lot of history.
During my trip to the Wharf I bought a plate of Chesapeake oysters and blood clams and found a place on the sidewalk to sit down and eat. Then – glutton that I am – I bought a whitefish sandwich, which was just a whole fried fish served with bread and sauce packets. It was delicious, and I felt like a fat sea otter afterwards.
While the Wharf is historic and offers impressive deals on an array of specialty seafood, it’s not glamorous. If you’re squeamish at the smell of fish entrails, maybe don’t visit on a hot July afternoon. I think most people can stomach the natural aromas of the sea’s bounty. If not, there’s a Five Guys down the street.
If you’re bored of all the beautiful museums and the political institutions have you feeling alienated, head down to the Wharf and pick up a pound of steamed shrimp or crab legs. It’s worth the crowd and the bloodthirsty pirate ghosts.
Marcos, Innkeeper at American Guest House, a Washington, DC Bed and Breakfast
(Image in the public domain)