Horace and Dickie’s Seafood, Washington
When you think of great seafood, it makes sense to think of the Chesapeake Bay area. But that kind of seafood tends to be crabs. Not so at Horace and Dickies, where whiting is the standard seafood of choice.
Located in the northeast part of Washington (the District is divided into four quadrants of NE, NW, SE and SW, for those who have never been before), Horace and Dickie’s is known as a spot for take-out comfort food done right. For starters, they don’t waste their efforts on a large menu. Instead, they focus on the entrees that they know will be done perfectly, which include catfish, crab, shrimp and chicken, plus the staple of whitefish.
It’s the whitefish they’re known for, as they take a secret spiced breading, dredge each piece in and fry to perfection. Each piece is crispy and flavorful on the outside and has the perfect texture inside. It’s everything that a good piece of fish should be.
What makes Horace and Dickie’s different besides their secret breading is the way they choose to serve their fish. At most places, a sandwich is meat between two slices of bread with toppings. At Horace and Dickie’s, all sandwiches are served open-faced, with you having the ability to assemble it yourself if you want, or just eat your four pieces of fish and the bread separately. The result ends up being a less spicy version of the bread at Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack, as the bread stays heated from the catfish, but doesn’t have the fires of hell to soak into it, leaving it a very nice finish to your meal.
Tartar sauce is another key to the Horace and Dickie’s experience. Normally, I’m not a fan of tartar sauce and tend to avoid it when I do have fish (and I have fish a lot, because I love almost all kinds of seafood), but Horace and Dickie’s has designed its breading to be perfectly complemented by the taste of the tartar sauce. It’s an excellent match, and it had me using the sauce throughout my enjoyment of the fish.
When it comes to sides, Horace and Dickie’s again knows what they’re doing. Comfort food staples like collard greens, baked macaroni and cheese, french fries and potato salad dot the menu. These gems tend to be made best by those who have grown up with these recipes, and Horace and Dickie’s is no exception. The restaurant has been open for 22 years, and the women behind the counter have perfected their craft long before that. The fries are cooked to a perfect coloring and texture, and the macaroni is just wonderful.
The one negative about Horace and Dickie’s is that it’s difficult to find a place to eat it. The place is carryout-only, which means that you’ve got to find some place in the District to enjoy your meal, and that can be a real chore. Really, the best way to do it is to bring a friend, have one of you drive and the other go in for your order, then either take it home or go find a park somewhere to enjoy your feast.
Whatever you decide to do, Horace and Dickie’s is an experience not to be missed. They say their restaurant is “Simplicity, Great Food, Great Experience”, and they aren’t kidding. It’s simply some of the best fried fish that you can find.
Time to visit: Lunch/dinner. Either meal is a good time for fish.
Wait during my visit: Not long, but I also got there at a less-than-busy time. The lines certainly can pile up into a lengthy wait.
Location: Horace and Dickie’s can be found at 809 12th Street in northeast DC
Cost: It’s not bad. The fish sandwich and sides can be had for about $10.
Parking: Dream on. It’s DC, which means parking is nonexistent. You don’t really need to park anyway, seeing as how you can’t eat it there. I recommend just driving and taking it somewhere else. I do not recommend doing what I did, which was taking the Metro to the nearest stop and walking a mile to the restaurant, while carrying two suitcases. Thank goodness the meal was worth it, or I’d have been very annoyed.
Website: Horace and Dickie’s
Specialty items: Fried whitefish