Though I live in the general area, I don’t spend much time on M St. in Georgetown. It’s not that I have anything against it, except that I run the risk of driving myself in to serious debt every time I walk down the street. Intermix, your siren song calls to me. There is one place that I’m willing to risk credit card debt for, and thy name is Tackle Box.
Tackle Box is the cooler little brother to its snooty boarding school sister, Hook, next door. While Sis spends her days rolling her eyes at all those outlanders who come to Newport in droves every Memorial Day weekend, Little Bro spent his summers working at a dockside restaurant and drinking on the beach with his friends at night. In other words, while Hook is a great meal for a special occasion, Tackle Box is at your service for a tasty lunch, brunch, dinner or snack just about any time.
Just like that dockside restaurant, the decor at Tackle Box is somewhere between a tugboat captain’s basement and a Smithsonian storage locker. Weathered wood paneling is all Cape Cod, while the old flags on the wall have a certain “look but don’t touch” vibe about them. Diners sit at long picnic tables outfitted with plenty of napkins and vinegar for dousing just about anything on your plate.
As with most order-at-a-counter restaurants, I get stressed when I hit the cash register at Tackle Box. The menu is straightforward, but with so many tasty options it sometimes isn’t easy to choose. Written on a chalkboard up on a side wall, the menu lends itself to the swapping out of fish when the freshest ones come off the boat. The center of the menu, both physically and psychologically, is the fish section. Broken down by grilled or crispy options, on a recent trip I saw bluefish, catfish and trout in the grilled section and bay scallops, haddock and clams ready to be fried.
The best way to approach the menu, in my personal opinion, is to go for one of the two value meals. The first, the Maine meal, is the fish of your choice, two sides and a sauce for $13.50. The second, the Tackle Box meal, is the same as the Maine but with only one side and will run you $9.50. There’s also the Seacoast Salad meal, which is a fish plus a salad and a sauce, but salads are for losers so forget about that. All the sides at Tackle Box are fresh and simply prepared, which isn’t to say they aren’t interesting or delicious. My favorites are the fries and the grilled asparagus, but again, keep an eye on the menu because sides are also subject to freshness and availability.
Though I do love the meals, I have a hard time passing up the lobster roll. It’ll run you a steep $19, but it’s a great rendition of the Maine favorite, and you are getting a seriously mountainous pile of fries alongside. The lobster meat is tender and a-plenty, and the buttery roll is divine. And you get it without having to wait outside a truck for 40 minutes.
In addition to the great food they have been serving up for the past couple years, Tackle Box has a fair amount of expansion happening these days. First of all, a second location in Cleveland Park is shooting for an April opening. Same old grub, a little more Metro accessible. While you wait for the second shop to open though, the Georgetown location has expanded in to the upstairs space (formerly the private dining room of Hook) and has dubbed it “Crackle Bar.” Evoking a happy hour in Key West feeling, you can expect specials like $1.50 beers and $2 margaritas, and $1 oysters if you feel the need for food.
So is a meal here worth the threat of debt collectors? Maybe not, but leave the credit cards at home and give Tackle Box a whirl. Incidentally, when I found myself taking the risk of eating there just last week I was weak of will and ended up at Intermix. But there was a sale! And it was worth it for a lobster roll.
Tackle Box is located at 3245 M St. NW. The closest Metro station is Foggy Bottom (Orange/Blue line). For more information, call 202-337-TBOX.