The fishmongers at Washington’s Municipal Fish Market have been selling crabs on the Potomac since the Civil War.

That’s how the Washington DC tourism website describes the Municipal Fish Market on the banks of the Potomac in the southwest of the city.

It’s a bit of a mouthful, to be sure. But I’m pretty sure the claim will have been vetted by a battery of lawyers to ward off litigation from the Fulton Fish Markets in New York. (They muddied the waters by relocating to the Bronx in 2005.)

Anyway, the good news is that the Municipal Fish Market looks like it has been operating continuously since 1805. While the rest of the waterfront here has been prissied up and gentrified, the fish market remains resolutely old school.

You want a live crab boiled right in front of you and then served in its half-shell? 

Not a problem.

Having said that, the rest of The Wharf, as it has been rebranded, is worth checking out. There’s a rum distillery, a 6,000 seat music venue, a converted airstream caravan selling s’mores, a terrific book store and, of course, the ubiquitous Irish pub.

And then there’s the Spy Museum, just up the hill a bit.

But for me, it’s the heroes with the half-shells that make a visit to this part of DC worthwhile. 

The fact that old-timers make a point of coming here to buy their seafood tells you everything you need to know.

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