With the goal of giving readers weekend dining inspiration, we’re introducing a new Friday feature detailing the best dish we encountered all week. We’re out there eating all the time, and this city is too tasty not to share our findings.
Lately I’ve been bypassing all of Union Market‘s other options in favor of District Fishwife, the 400-square-foot seafood market and food stall helmed by Aussie fishmonger Fiona Lewis. While Lewis has added more offerings recently, including a fried shrimp donburi bowl scattered with pickled vegetables, the first dish she put on the menu is most deserving of your dining dollars.
“We only did the fish and chips the first month we were open,” Lewis explains. “In Australia, fish and chips is a religion.” District Fishwife batters and fries two four-ounce pieces of cod and serves them with golden brown chips, a Haitian-style slaw spiked with fresh oregano and jalapeños, and house-made tartar sauce. The heavenly basket costs $14, plus tax.
“When I first came to America and had tartar sauce here it was sweet, not tart,” Lewis explains. “Tart is in the name, so we keep ours quite acidic.” The restaurant makes its own mayo and adds pickles, dill, and capers for flavor.
Most fish and chips restaurants in Australia and the United Kingdom have an array of fish to choose from, but District Fishwife is limited in space so Lewis zeroed in on cod. “Americans like cod,” Lewis says. That said, you can also request an off-menu alternative—the wild blue catfish the restaurant uses in its fried fish sandwich. It’s an invasive species in Chesapeake Bay tributaries, so you can feel a bit less guilty stuffing your gills with deep-fried food.
After ordering the fish and chips, pick up a tropical juice from Cuban stall Zita Rica, and find some bench space outside. You just might feel like summer has arrived early.
District Fishwife’s kitchen is open Mondays through Wednesdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Thursdays through Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
District Fishwife, 1309 5th St. NE; (202) 543-2592; thedistrictfishwife.com
This post has been updated to reflect District Fishwife’s new hours.