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Celebrate America’s holiday appreciating one of D.C.’s finest chefs in a building that’s all too American.

José Andrés’ FISH is great. We already told you this. This was our second trip to FISH. We really enjoyed the Maryland Fry Bar on the first visit. If you’re able to get seats for it, do it. It’s a great experience. But it’s an experience. And something you don’t have a few hours to enjoy fried food (It’s extremely difficult to enjoy fried food for a large meal, but it isn’t nearly as heavy as you think).

FISH is odd. It feels bigger than any other Andrés restaurant and attracts a different clientele than what you’ll typically find in Penn Quarter. From large groups of young people playing with someone else’s money to elderly couples to groups out-of-towners in town for a conference, the spot attracts all kinds. It’s like multiple restaurants with one address. There’s the aforementioned Fry Bar, a lounge area at the bar, multiple dining areas and an outdoor patio. The spaces allow for a choose your own adventure dining experience.

MD Fry Bar at Fish-40

For our most recent FISH visit, we decided to experience it before a show. What should you order when you have to be somewhere at a specific time? Begin with a cocktail.

You can have a really great cocktail (order the White Negroni made with Rock Creek Whiskey, honey, lemon, bitters and Hefeweizen beer) for $16 that feels like a reasonably priced cocktail. That’s odd. $16 shouldn’t seem like a good price for a drink. But remember that you’re in a casino so spending a few dollars more than you would on a tall boy of Bud Light appears like a deal. Casinos are odd.

We’ve already raved about the fried food (we don’t feel too bad about this since most everyone that writes about food tends to agree that it’s great). One of the reasons why it’s good is because it’s all local fried food. The local Lucky Shuck oysters satisfied, but if you’re going to order one dish to split, we recommend the tuna tartare. Prepared table side, it’s ideal for sharing and more than enough food for two. If you’re on a short timeline for your restaurant visit at MGM, get this and a drink. It’s all you need. Served with Parker House rolls, it’s difficult to walk away hungry. You’ll want more (get the Lucky Shuck oysters), but you won’t need it.

But casinos aren’t really about what you need. It’s about want. You’ll want to try more because the staff is fantastic, the atmosphere is welcoming and it’s really easy to lose track of time in a casino. So you’ll end up with oysters (which is never a bad idea, unless you’re deathly allergic to oysters, but maybe if you’re allergic to seafood you should avoid a place named FISH) and dessert. If you’re going to do dessert, get the Atlantic Beach Pie. Made with Ritz crackers, yogurt-lemon cream and chantilly, it breaks through the main dishes you most likely overindulged and enjoyed. Casinos are about overindulging.

MD Fry Bar at Fish-6

You appreciate good seafood much more after suffering through a night of bad seafood. Some bad seafood kept me up last night. It was not from FISH. I should have spent the hour traveling from 15th and K NW in rush hour than settle for subpar seafood.

MD Fry Bar at Fish-4

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