Phillips Seafood (Flagship) 900 Water Street SW Washington, DC (202) 488-8515 Monday–Thursday & Sunday, 11am–9pm Friday & Saturday, 11am – 10pm Weekend Brunch, 11am – 2:30pm
Overlooking the Washington Channel on the Southwest Waterfront, Phillips Seafood (Flagship) is reputed to be the only all-you-can-eat seafood buffet in Washington DC. A large buffet of fresh seafood selections, as well other cooked and dessert specialties, make up an glutton friendly display. A traditional a la carte menu is also available. For those coming by car, you can swing below to an underground parking garage (complete with a man standing by the payment machine to help speed up the process at dinner time when the line can get long). Its a pure tourist destination however, so be warned…
The choice for this massive group dinner was left to someone who’s been here before and thought the simple venue and dining style would be conducive to our party – filled with a bunch of big strapping fellows associated with a certain active military outfit and accustomed to big eating of the seafood variety (as they are based on the west coast). I wasn’t particularly thrilled but decided to chalk it up to one of those unfortunate outings when one’s interest in eating well (and perhaps in more moderate quantities) was thrown to the wayside in the greater interests of group harmony and wasting time arguing about where to eat. I guess I can be accommodating to a fault.
Sandbar Seafood Restaurant 1535 Johnston Street Vancouver, BC (604) 669-9030
Much like an undercover agent infiltrating a tightly closed society, there are times when I deliberately jump right into the most touristy spots I can think of to try and get a sense of what drives non-locals to visit such eating establishments. More often than not, these kind of places are always touted and raved about by the native city’s mainstream media and publications, that surprisingly have far reaching audiences. Chalk it up to the incredibly connected and digital world we live in. In the past twelve years, I’ve had the pleasure of setting up a home base in four major cities now and in each one, I’ve conducted a similar exercise just for fun. Here in Vancouver, The Sandbar rated high on my list of tourist traps.
However this time, I had some out of town visitors in tow with me as I guided them around the markets at Granville Island and rather than bother with making a long stroll back to the vehicle we came in, I popped inside up and up the stairs to see if we could get a table on short notice. Being that it was a beautiful summer day, I had my doubts we could get one on the outdoor patio and that ended up being the case. Instead we were seated just inside, but the view of the water below was pretty much obscured. For visitors, provided you get a good stroll around the Island ahead of dinner, I think you can pretty much picture the view you could have if seated on the rail on the patio.
Go Fish Ocean Emporium 1505 W 1st Avenue Vancouver, BC (604) 730-5040
“Thirty minute wait for anything fried and ten minutes for the grilled items”. That’s what was being hollered out to the still not fully depleted lineup as the last business hour of the day approached this fine sunny weekend day. With hungry bellies, our rat pack of five quickly huddled and decided we’d opt for the healthier and quicker grilled menu choices, and that was by no means a default as these creations as you’ll see here did not disappoint or a downgrade to the more popular deep fried dishes like their fish ‘n chips.
In reality, the wait was indeed longer than advertised, but I assumed their time clock began once they could actually begin cooking your order, and not from the point of time when the order was actually received and paid for at the til. But with the nearby bench seating providing a view like this, the clock moving slowly isn’t all bad…
Fog Harbor Fish House Fisherman’s Wharf, Pier 39 San Francisco, CA (415) 421-2442
Not exactly high on my personal “bucket list” but I nonchalantly accepted the invitation from two of my fellow travelers – both first timers to Fog City – to go check out the Golden Gate Bridge after a long day and make the trek over it by foot. I had no problem with the physical act of crossing, that perhaps took us 30-40 minutes, give or take some for various stops along the way to take photos. Though we’d only intended to do this one-way, but without any taxi options on the other side, we reluctantly made a U-turn and made the same walk over back to where we came from. By the end of it all, we pretty hungry and luckily flagged down a ride to take us to Pier 39.
As the fall chill at night on the waterfront is none too pleasant, we quickly scurried to the nearest spot we could find that looked remotely decent. Our choice was made simply by scanning the signage in our line of sight. Fog Harbor Fish House, situated on the second deck of the structure not far from where our taxi dropped us off it was. No wait to be had, good. Inside was bustling however, and seemingly with people mainly much older than us. Especially in the back of the house near the restrooms, there were packs of people with white colored hair and fitting the retired tourist demographic. What made this very interesting was the fact that our server was also in that plus-sixty age zone. One of my dining partners remarked, “guess we’re getting served by grandma”. It was cute watching her waddle down the row to bring us our drinks and warm, fresh serving of sourdough bread, it made us feel like we were in grandma’s house. 🙂