Maine Ave Fish Market
This morning, I had the amazing opportunity to experience something that has been around for over 200 years - The Maine Ave Fish Market aka Fish Wharf aka The Wharf. It has been in continuous operation since 1805 and is the oldest open air fish market in the United States—even older than New York's Fulton Fish Market by seventeen years! I stumbled upon this jewel as I was browsing the internet for DC Bucket Lists - things to see and do in DC - a regular activity for me each month. I have no idea why I have never come across this place before but it was mentioned on several lists, so I had to see it!
I am a lover of all things seafood and this incredible market is now one of my favorite places in DC! I invited my friend, Rachel, to join me on this adventure, and we planned to be there a few minutes after 8am, which is when they opened to the public for business. As you can tell from the picture above, we were the only customers there that early, and the rest of the activity was by the vendors. This allowed us to get up close and personal with the seafood, and get to know the vendors a bit more.
The freshest fish and shrimp, live crabs, mussels, and scallops I had ever seen! Being from India and living near a coast, I had been spoiled by having fresh fish, shrimp, and live crabs brought to my doorstep when I was a young girl. It has been over fifteen years since I have had seafood this fresh!
It was fun to have Rachel and her little boy, Ethan, come along for the ride. Rachel is a foodie and loves to explore. Therefore, I find a kindred spirit in her. She was excited to buy some fresh scallops for her husband's birthday dinner tonight. Ethan was a bit overwhelmed by it all but was thrilled to see the trucks and the forklifts, while his mother and I ooh-ed and aah-ed over the fish.
Fresh seafood is sold on floating barges and at lower prices than the supermarkets. The vendors fought hard to keep the market while the city tried to raze it all to make way for urban development. The fight still goes on, even though the original vendors invoked a clause in their leases that allowed them to stay there for 99 years. The vendors are friendly, knowledgeable, and give you tips on best ways to cook your purchase. Jesse Taylor's Seafood goes one step further and even steams and spices up your desired seafood for you! We were not going to pass up the chance to sample some of the freshest shrimp ever. So, Rachel and I bought half a pound of shrimp to share, found a wall on the wharf on which to sit, chatted with a friendly fisherman, and devoured our delicious shrimp for breakfast. Yes, we are cool like that!
Ethan was a trooper and even tried some spicy shrimp. We admired the location, the culture of the fish market, and the fresh food. It was wonderful to see the crabs being sorted, the fish being weighed, and the crabs, then, being stuffed in baskets to be transported.
It was a wonderful morning, spent with a beautiful friend, and making the Maine Ave Fish Market a part our DC experience was priceless!