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Gone Fishing at the Southwest Fish Market


Captain White Seafood City
Lean a little closer. I'm going to tell you about a secret place, a place in Washington, DC that few tourists know about. In fact, a lot of DC locals don’t know about it either. The place is one of the last of its kind on the entire east coast.

It’s authentic and rarely seen by tourists even though it’s only about five blocks from other tourist attractions like the Washington Monument,Jefferson Memorial, Holocaust Museum and Bureau of Engraving and Printing.

The place is called the Southwest Fish Market. Yes, an open air fish market right there in southwest Washington, DC almost in the President's back yard. On a crowded strip along the southwest waterfront under the busy Interstate 395 overpass, merchants sell fresh seafood from permanently docked floating steel barges along the pier on the Anacostia River.

As you walk pass the soda machines into the u-shaped market area where most of the merchants set up shop, your olfactory senses will be met with the competing briny smell of fish guts and salt water and the aroma of fresh steamed crabs.

You’ll find lots of uncooked fresh snapper, croaker, perch, tilapia, shrimp, oysters, lobsters, mahi mahi, tuna and live Chesapeake Bay blue crabs clawing their way to freedom. You can also get a variety of cooked seafood prepared while you wait. Choices include spicy steamed shrimp and blue crabs, both popular take home backyard fingerlicking selections.

Seafood dinners come in styrofoam containers stuffed with golden brown fried fish filets, a pile of french fries, a dollop of coleslaw, corn on the cob, and two slices of white bread. Unless you have a huge appetite, plan on sharing or saving some for your next meal. Other favorites include crabcakes, fresh oysters peppered with Tabasco and piping hot clam chowder soup.

The price for most cooked items is fixed and posted but do vary from vendor to vendor.

For some uncooked items like crabs or crab legs, you might want to test your negotiating skills. The more exotic offerings arranged over shaved ice include a variety of squid and octopus, tiger shrimp and other varieties that vary from day to day.

Parking is at a premium at this old fashioned open air market and there is so little seating that you shouldn’t even think about eating on site. This is definitely an order and go kind of place.

Also known as the Maine Avenue Fish Market, The Fish Wharf or just The Wharf, the market is open every day, 11:00 AM – 7:00 PM on weekdays and 11:00 AM – 9:00 PM on weekends.

Getting to the fish market on foot can be challenging and there are no signs to direct you. So check your map before heading out. From Metro, get off at the Waterfront (Green line) or L’Enfant (Orange, Blue, Yellow or Green line) stop then follow directions on your map.

Maine Avenue Fish Market
1100 Maine Avenue, SW
Washington, DC
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