Dining on a Shoestring: Fish in the Hood

Bill White keeps fans coming back with witty banter and terrific seafood.

Bill White at Fish in the Hood. Photograph by Scott Suchman.

Talk to someone who has been to Fish in the Hood—also known as Bill’s Seafood Kitchen—and you may encounter an evangelist. One customer said he regularly drives in from Fairfax because he and his wife are addicted to the fried shrimp and broiled salmon.

As it turns out, the storefront’s cult-like following is deserved. The brief menu is posted on a glass case holding rows of seafood on ice. Choose a fish and a preparation—fileted or whole, broiled with spices or fried—and it’s taken out of the case, weighed, and cooked. The bone-in fish lend themselves to broiling. The black bass ($10.99 a pound) and the red snapper ($12.99 a pound) are sprinkled with an herby Cajun seasoning and get a dollop of butter before their trip to the broiler.

Salmon filets ($13.99 a pound) and scallops ($18.99 a pound) are other good choices for the broiler, as is the giant crabcake ($10.99)—about the width of a dessert plate—packed with herb-flecked jumbo lump crab and no sign of filler.

Fried seafood has a thin cornmeal crust that lets the fish shine. Try the fried catfish filet ($10.99 a pound), perch ($10.99 a pound), or large shrimp ($18.99 a pound). All remain hot and crispy even after a car ride home.

Non-fish items are just as satisfying. The excellent chicken-fried pork chop ($4.50) is heavy on the pepper. Barbecue chicken wings ($6 for five) are sweet and smoky, the meat falling off the bone.

Side dishes mean soul-food favorites. We like the buttery candied yams ($2.75), celery-seed-spiked potato salad ($2.25), well-seasoned mac and cheese ($2.75), and rich, earthy collards ($2.25).

Skip the cakes lined up on the counter. The best dessert is the sweet-potato pie that owner Bill White makes. He playfully offers serving tips: “It tastes better if you bring it to room temperature and if your man feeds it to you bite by bite using his best Barry White voice.”

Everything is freshly made, though not always available, so the clams and cornbread you eyed on one visit might not be there the next.

But White is always there converting newcomers into regulars—who will likely continue to spread the good word.

Fish in the Hood, 3601 Georgia Ave., NW; 202-545-6974. Open Monday through Saturday for lunch and dinner.

This article appears in the February 2012 issue of The Washingtonian.