Is there anything better than dumping a bushel of spicy steamed crabs onto a table? Here's where you can find the best fresh fish, crabs, shrimp, and bivalves in D.C.

D.C. fishmongers do a great job of finding and buying up local fish, crabs, and more to bring to market. Here's our list of where you should go to shop for your next seafood feast.


Courtesy of Captain White's Seafood

Jessie Taylor Seafood

WHERE: 1100 Maine Avenue SW | Washington, D.C.
PHONE: (202) 554-4173

Hands down, this is one of the biggest stalls on Maine Avenue. Jessie Taylor Seafood even has a separate side just for their giant steamers. Whatever you do, don't be lazy and buy the already-steamed crabs. You want to go to the right side, pick them out when they're alive, then head to the left side to get them steamed. 


The trick with Jessie Taylor's is to BE NICE. A smile and a few neatly folded singles goes a long way toward getting your steamer ticket taken care of quickly. While you're waiting, have a few local oysters shucked right in front of you and browse through some other stalls.

blue crab

**Both photos are courtesy of Jessie Taylor Seafood.

Captain White's Seafood

WHERE: 1100 Maine Avenue SW | Washington, D.C.
PHONE: (202) 484-2722

Almost the entire far side of the Maine Avenue fish market is occupied by Captain White's. They have a huge variety of specialty items like octopus, shucked oysters, and seasonal roe.

This is where I would go for shrimp. You'll find many different sizes and sources here, and the variety is simply dizzying. They get some great fresh fish too, so keep an eye out for what looks best when you go.


Courtesy of Captain White's Seafood

The Market at Ivy City Smokehouse

WHERE: 1356 Okie Street NE | Washington, D.C.
PHONE: (202) 529-3300

Head up to Ivy City for some daily seafood offerings carefully chosen by their fish market gurus. Local oysters and crabs are available at the restaurant, just in case you don't want to take them home and deal with them yourself.

Treat yourself to a dozen up on the roof next time it's nice out!


Courtesy of The Market at Ivy City Smokehouse

Are there other seafood markets? Yes. Are they worth trying out? Sure. This is just our list of the best vendors that you can count on for your fresh seafood needs.

Tips on getting the best seafood:

  • If you make the trek to Maine Avenue, go early, no later than 9 a.m., and eat the steamed crabs while they're still warm. The texture changes if you refrigerate them after they're steamed; that's why I never buy the pre-cooked crabs.
  • You can ask for your seafood "half-spiced" or even take the seasonings home with you in a bag. 
  • For fish, you want to look for whole fish with clear (not cloudy) eyes. Buy the fish whole and have it cleaned at the market. Don't forget to tip for great service!
  • If you're buying clams, mussels, or oysters, they should be tightly shut. Be sure to keep them on (not in) a bag of ice if you're going to be running other errands.
  • Be careful with your belongings if you go to Maine Avenue -- there is a space between the stalls and where you order so you could easily drop keys or a credit card down into the water. I've seen it happen several times!

Did your favorite seafood market make the list? Let us know in the comments below!

Need a good health food store? We list our favorite D.C. health food stores here!