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DonRocks

Mid Atlantic Seafood, Takoma Park - Jacob Lee's Soul Food on New Hampshire Avenue

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Inspired by the daring forays of Todd Kliman, I took it upon myself to do something people who frequent these internet food boards rarely do: I drove my car down New Hampshire Avenue from Langley Park into the District of Columbia.

Cheesesteak Mike's in Hillandale? Might as well have been Flaps in Potomac.

Tiffin at the intersection of University Blvd? I'd sooner go to Rasika.

No, my friends, I went, and I went deep. Threading in and out of pothole-ridden parking lots, I walked up to places previously unthinkable, and even looked through the windows. One of my dicier moments came when I walked into an Guyanese-Caribbean market, and was immediately assaulted with a snootful of rodenticide. A quick lap, and I was gone.

Down a side street (a side street, mind you), just past the Takoma Park post office, inside a gated parking lot, sat a tiny little Bangladeshi - perhaps even Sri Lankan - market, imposingly decrepit from the outside. I walked in quietly, asked if they had any ready-made food, and breathed a small sigh of relief when they told me, in broken English, that they did not.

I came upon Mid Atlantic Seafood, near the old Allen theater where I used to go to the movies with my dad when I was a child. There was a small group of people gathered at the front door, so I drove to the back of the lot to park my car. I opened my door, got out of the car, and in the distance, somewhere down New Hampshire Avenue, I heard a jackhammer that sounded a LOT like sniper fire, so I crouched down, and ran as fast and as hard as I possibly could, eventually making it to the front door of the restaurant.

Stuffed Whiting ($12.95) was three filets arranged as a triangular prism, stuffed with a baseball-sized pile of crab in the middle. So how's the crab? Gloriously full of the "hanger steak" of crabmeat: cheap little shards of claw, the parts that are traditionally shunned by the so-called food cogniscenti. Lovingly breaded throughout, with little flecks of onions, red and green pepper, it made a perfect soak for the juices of the frozen whiting. Black-eyed peas? You bet. Topped with a squirt of "hot sauce" which is nothing more than Tabasco. The whole thing was brought into balance by a scoop of steamed, white rice, taken straight from a rice cooker.

I made it back to the car, and pulled out of the parking lot, looking behind me, my forehead moist with beads of nervous perspiration. Turning right onto New Hampshire Avenue, driving across the district line, and then heading down North Capitol street - my door unlocked the entire time - I ate my meal with a sense of pride, accomplishment, and self-satisfaction - it was the kind of feeling one can only find after participating in a fundraising walk, giving a dollar to a homeless person on Christmas day, or perhaps on a smaller scale, allowing someone to change lanes in front of you on the beltway. Philanthropic, honorable, urban derring-do at its absolute finest.

Cheers,
Rocks.

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In case you had hopes of reliving some "glory days" from restaurant visits past let me dissuade you. Having just moved into the neighborhood one of my neighbors recommended Mid Atlantic as a place to go when "you don't feel like cooking". Having finished work late last night this was just one of those nights. I arrived at Mid Atlantic just 15 minutes before closing....I almost wished I hadn't made it. The fried shrimp were precooked, greasy, and over breaded. The smothered pork chops were grisly and tough. Neither of the side dishes we ordered (collards and mac and cheese) tasted of any sort of culinary integrity....I felt like all I was doing was eating off the back of the Sysco truck. When I see soul food I expect something homemade and comforting, this was neither. If this is "soul food" then Mid Atlantic will surely be spending some time in Purgatory before seeing the pearly gates.

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Welcome to the neighborhood! Thanks for the report on mid atlantic seafood.. I drive by it all the time and have wondered...

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There are at least 25 “virtual restaurants” operating out of the small local chain’s Takoma Park location. Have you tried GastroPub, Nonstop Breakfast Club, Burger Land, or Caroline’s Country Fried Cafe? How about Big MaMa’s Seafood & Soul Food, Rainbow Smoothie, Just Wing It, On A Bun, or Giant Breakfast Burrito

"Fry Me a River and Burger Mansion Are Two of Mid-Atlantic Seafood's 25 Virtual Restaurants" by Laura Hayes on washingtoncitypaper.com

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Feb 4, 2020 - "Tucker vs. Lee" on casemine.com

I don't think it matters (does it?), but the one time I went to Mid-Atlantic Seafood, I had a really good experience at what was clearly an Asian-owned restaurant (hence the steamed rice, scooped from a rice-cooker) serving traditional soul food in the heart of Takoma Park on New Hampshire Avenue.

Gosh I hope everyone realizes how sarcastic and self-deprecating I was trying to be in that first post (if not, please re-read).

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