Seafood in DC, Arlington, Alexandria, Falls Church
My wife and I are headed to Arlington/Alexandria to visit my family this summer and want to eat all the wonderful things we can't get in small-town Ohio. Arlington is my home, but I've never been much on seafood until recently. Any recommendations for seafood in DC or inner-NoVa (Arlington, Alexandria or Falls Church)? Also, we have a newborn, so family/baby friendly is important.
Well, you know that the very local fare is blue crab, and summer is the season for them. You can search this board for blue crab and get tons of directions, mostly to the bay. My oft overlooked pick is Clarke's Landing down near Patuxent. On the way back you can stop of Thompson's seafood corner for an incredible soft shell sandwich (in season) or get their crab cakes to cook at home - there is no seating - it's a take away type of deal that just happens to cook a few things who just can't wait. You can see roadside crab sale signs by locals in some places. Of course, this would be a half day outing at minimum, but doable, especially with a newborn. Here's a full recap I gave when I first discovered this area: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/174882
On the other end of things, I think one of the nicest seafood experiences is Black Salt. Really any of this family of restaurants, but this one shines for straight ahead seafood, with elegance and daring (how do they go together?). Well timed, you could carry it off with a newborn.
Closer in, there's the Quarterdeck for a crab feast, the seafood place behind Arrowwine inthe Cherrydale area, and the wharf. Oh, and Johnny's HalfShell, now near Cap Hill - this is a nicer place for a good dinner where I know you can pull off a dinner with a well timed (just fed and snuggly sleeping) newborn. btw, I got it from another hound 2.5 years ago - cherish the time up to around 6 months - you can actually do any 3 hour stints of anything with the baby - especially dining out. We're just now past 2 years and are just now able to go back to semi-decent places - sometimes.
A seafood house per se in those three jurisdictions is hard to find. Some of the Vietnamese or Thai restaurants have some nice seafood items on their menues, though. And a lot of the sushi places also offer shrimp tempura, salmon teriyaki, etc.
But let me suggest Black Salt, in DC, on McArthur Blvd., not far from Chain Bridge. It's a seafood rstaurant AND upscale (no pun intended) fish market. Had good crabcakes, calamari and tuna steak sandwiches there.
Clare and Don's Beach Shack that used to be in Clarendon (Clare and Don = Clarendon - get it?) is now in Falls Church on Washington Street (Lee Highway, Rt 29) just a block north of Broad St. (Rt 7) across the driveway from the State Theater. It's hardly a specialty seafood house, but they have decent grilled and fried fish dishes in a kind of fun atmosphere, assuming the Falls Church version is similar to the original Clarendon model, so it might be more kid friendly than a fancier seafood restaurant.
I had a few decent meals and no bad ones at the original place but I haven't been in the Falls Church version yet. Pretty simple stuff, but that's usually the best way with seafood. Of course blue crabs are out of season now and just about anything else you can get (coming from somewhere) just about any time.
You might like the Dancing Crab on Wisconsin Avenue, almost to the Chevy Chase border (right hand side of the street near the movie theater.) We've gone there for years, and while it's no-frills and just a tad gimmicky, the food is good. If you don't want to bother with opening crabs, especially with a newborn, have the crab cakes and they can broil them.
The Quarterdeck is tucked behind some apts. in Arlington, a random crabhouse... never been but my sister liked it! I've had luck in Alexandria at the Chart House on the water, and I went to Potomac Landing before it was Indigo Landing, but I've heard good things. There's a Phillips buffet in DC... but it is buffet food.