Gordon Ramsay’s Fish and Chips, a snug chipper overseen by the bombastic British TV personality, opened in October at the Wharf. That means there are now four places at the Southwest DC development where you can find the classic fried pub staple. So who does it best? A ranking, from best to worst:
665 Wharf St., SW.
The place—which has Union Jack decor and siblings in Vegas and Orlando—boasts all the stylistic allure of an airport cafe. Still, when it comes to fish, Ramsay wins: His hunks of sustainable Atlantic cod are seasoned with lemon salt and have the kind of crunch you can hear from across the patio. The latter trait is thanks to a couple unexpected additions in the batter: rice flour and pastry-cream powder. Get your order with tartar for dunking, but also load up on other sauces (Dijon mayo, cocktail) for the fries, which are passable. And don’t miss the sticky-toffee milkshake.
749 Wharf St., SW.
The fish and chips ($24) at Mark Kirwan’s pub almost tied Ramsay for the top slot. Kirwan has been faithful to his traditional recipe for more than a decade, both here and at Samuel Beckett’s, his pub in Shirlington. It’s inspired by a little shop in Galway that Kirwan fell in love with. His secrets: high-quality North Atlantic cod; hand-cut, double-fried Yukon Gold potatoes; and housemade tartar sauce that’s more herby than sweet. Another nice touch: a side of housemade mushy peas.
701 Wharf St., SW.
There’s nothing British or Irish about Jamie Leeds’s seafood restaurants. So perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising to taste—sorry, purists—Old Bay in its battered cod ($22) and atop the skinny fries served alongside. The fish’s fried sheath is more fluffy and tempura-like than crunchy. It’s not bad, but not destination-worthy, either.
4. The Brighton
949 Wharf St., SW.
At this bar next to the Anthem, which is run by H2 Collective (a.k.a. the Hilton brothers), the fish tasted fresh and clean, the batter was fine—not super-crispy, but not flabby—and the fries were tasty enough. But the whole plate ($20) was undone by something funky-tasting in the frying oil.
This article appears in the January 2023 issue of Washingtonian.