When discussing the iconic dishes of Washington, the fried whiting sandwich with hot sauce is often criminally overlooked, despite the fact that it’s a staple of the African American community here. Whenever there is a social function in African American neighborhoods, you can almost be sure that fried whiting will be there.
One of the District’s best suppliers of the deep-fried fish sandwich is Horace & Dickies Seafood, just off H Street NE; the hole in the wall has been peddling the dish — and playfully pressing for tips — since 1990. I consider it one of the most authentic eating experiences in the District, in that it channels a particular D.C. culture and has not, as far as I know, ever attempted to chase any ephemeral trends to attract diners.
Which is why I’m pleased to learn that Horace & Dickies is planning to open a second location in the Takoma neighborhood of the District. Simone Shannon, daughter of founder Richard “Dickie” Shannon, plans to debut the new Horace & Dickies early next week at 6912 Fourth St. NW in the former Wing Supreme space.
She had hoped to open this week, but ran into an inspection snafu today.
“Something went wrong with the inspection so we’re trying to get that fixed right now,” Simone Shannon said during a phone interview this afternoon. Apparently city inspectors told Shannon that she couldn’t use a shower as a mop sink, as the previous tenant had.
“We’re kind of getting that underway now,” she said, about the new mop sink. “That’s our hold-up right now.”
She’s looking to schedule a new inspection for Friday or Monday in the hopes of a Tuesday (May 15) opening of Horace & Dickies in Takoma, which will feature not only several new items such as fish tacos and banana pudding, but also booth seating for about 20. (What was I saying about trend-mongering?)
In 2009, the original Horace & Dickies was included in a Washington-centric episode of “Man Vs. Food,” Adam Richman’s ode to greasy spoon gluttony. During his stop at H&D, Richman downed the jumbo fish sandwich, which included six breaded and fried whitefish fillets, enough to make a grown glutton cry for mercy. “This is an entire school of fish sandwich,” he said. “You should call this one the ‘Aquarium Special.’ ”
Richman pronounced the sandwich “just perfection. Every element works together, you know. The fish by itself is incredible. You add in the crunch of the coleslaw, the sweetness of the cabbage, the tartness of the tartar sauce, and that creaminess. It is absolutely out of this world.”
Like so many customers before him, Richman also found himself charmed by “Big Mama” Marshall, the sassy soul of Horace & Dickies itself. Will Big Mama spend any time in the Takoma store?
“She’ll probably be in-between the two,” says Simone. “She wants to come here.”