The Wharf – A Mix of New and Old

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There are times when Clay and I stroll through Washington DC, weaving in and out of the monuments before hopping on the metro to Eastern Market to grab a bit to eat,  wondering what it would have been like if we were stationed here right out of college. The night he had to rank his top stationing choices during his senior year, I remember sitting next to him on my bed with my laptop, plugging in the possibilities into Map Quest (t’was before Google Maps entered the scene) to see how far they were from Clemson University. Because he’s a whopping 11 months older than me, we planned to do the long-distance dance while I finished my senior year. We’d have a summer wedding, honeymoon in Costa Rica, and then I’d join him at Fort Meade, Maryland – the installation at the top of our list, where I would then put my Political Science and Economics degree to good use in our nation’s capital.

In reality – we ended up scrambling to have a December wedding during the winter break of my senior year, we honeymooned in New York City for three-days because that is the only amount time for which his unit would release him, and I joined him at Fort Drum, New York six months later, after I graduated. It would then take me another six months to find a full-time job quasi-related to my career-field. It was our first experience with, as my friend Sheena so lovingly put in my previous post, the Army showing us that ultimately she’s the boss.

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I realize now that this is quite the long introduction for a post about the District Wharf. Basically – it’s nice to experience the things that we long ago dreamed of doing as newlyweds stationed in this area. Granted, I have yet to work in the district using my undergraduate degree and having two kids means that we don’t attend nearly as many cocktail parties as we did our original scenario, but we get to do things we enjoy and spend our free time exploring a world class city. We’ve been wanting to check out the District Wharf since the grand re-opening in October 2017. The gray and drizzling sky on a Sunday afternoon provided the perfect backdrop to walk around where DC meets the water.

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The Maine Avenue Fish Market is the oldest continuously operating open-air fish market in the United States. Despite recent and continuing redevelopment to the DC’s Southwest Waterfront, the Maine Avenue Fish Market hasn’t changed much since the 1960s, which is quite charming. The plan is for the new Southwest Waterfront to be a mile-long stretch along the Potomac River with restaurants, residences, storefronts, and commercial businesses. Phase I of the Wharf redevelopment was completed in October 2017 and Phase II is projected to be finished in 2022, so there is still quite a bit of construction going on in the area. But there is enough there to keep this family of four entertained for a couple of hours on a cloudy Sunday afternoon.

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We walked along the various piers, admiring sailboats that we’d never be able to afford nor operate with our limited sailing knowledge. The actual seafood market was bustling with activity but the waterfront itself was quite empty. We didn’t buy fresh seafood this time around but now we know where to go for our blue crab fix and any other ocean creatures we wish to prepare for consumption ourselves.

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Parking is quite expensive in the garage located on the Wharf. However, with a validated ticket (the validation booth is right in the seafood market area – you can’t miss it), it is only $2 to park for an hour, which is more than enough time if you’re there just to pick up some stuff fresh off the boat. Because street parking is free on Sundays in DC, we parked in L’Enfant Plaza and walked the 1/4 mile to the District Wharf.

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We ate lunch at Hank’s Oyster Bar, which is located at the wharf. Clay and I love going to the Old Town Alexandria location but it is not a place we care to take the children because it is has more of a small and intimate vibe. However, the wharf location is very kid-friendly, complete with a kid’s menu, coloring sheet, and crayons. This location, like the others, also serves complimentary goldfish while you wait for your food.

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Clay and I enjoyed $10 draft beers, which was annoying but we weren’t about to eat raw oysters without beer – that’d be uncivilized.

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The oysters were amazing, as usual. We got an assortment and we both agreed that the Pacific Northwest oysters were our favorite. I absolutely loved the Cranberry Creek oyster, which surprised me because I usually go for the extremely briney (apparently not a word) varieties.

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We also had peel-and-eat shrimp, lobster bisque, and New England clam chowder. The kids helped us with the seafood but mainly stuck with their chicken fingers and fruit. Clay and I both agreed that the oysters and shrimp were the best aspects of the meal.

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After lunch, we walked around the remnants of the previous night’s Fire & Ice festival before making our way to the National Mall to hit up a couple of museums before they closed for the night. We won’t be around by the time Phase II of the District Wharf redevelopment is finished (or maybe we will be stationed here a third time by then…) but I look forward to seeing the progress over the next months. And I really look forward to Blue Crab season.

2 comments on “The Wharf – A Mix of New and Old”

    1. It actually was – albeit on the bottom. Silly us – we didn’t know having Drum anywhere on the list would ensure that we’d be stationed there. 🙂 We ended up loving it though!

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