If Maine Avenue Fish Market isn’t the most tourist-free attraction in all of DC, it’s got to rank right up there. I doubt most visitors on the Mall know that just a few blocks south, there exists this truly historic market (operating since 1805). It feels local, rooted and utterly unlike anything else in the city — which is what makes it so great.
Seafood lovers rejoice — everything your heart could desire is here, looking sparkling fresh like it’s just been plucked out of the Chesapeake.
I saw customers loading up on shrimp and all kinds of fish.
The star of the show though, is clearly the crabs. Chesapeake Bay blue crabs to be exact. You can buy them live.
Or steamed with Old Bay. The smell alone is enough to make your mouth water. My only regret was that I didn’t have a cooler on hand to take some crabs home with me.
At one point I swear I heard an announcement over one of the PAs: “Crab man, line 2. Crab man.”
There’s plenty of cooked seafood to be eaten, like at Captain White’s near one end of the market.
This is where I picked up a cup of Maryland crab soup — spicy and seasoned with Old Bay.
And a crabcake sandwich.
No tables with chairs, but there is an area where you can stand at wooden counter tops and enjoy your food, while looking out over the water towards Hains Point.
The thwack! of mallets hitting shells was all around, as people dug into their orders of steamed crabs.
I’m sure there were tourists mixed in with the crowd, but most of the people I saw looked like they knew exactly what they were doing; some looked like they’d been coming for years.
Don’t get me wrong, I love all the popular tourist destinations around here. They’re part of what make DC, DC. At the same time, it’s comforting to know a place like Maine Ave Fish Market exists… unsullied by bus tours, geared primarily for the people who live here, hardly apt to appear on a postcard, and cranking away long after the tourists have gone home.
Maine Avenue Fish Market
1100 Maine Ave SW