Restaurants in Washington, DC, tend to be cutting-edge and cosmopolitan, which is why we are so happy to have found Horace & Dickie’s up north in the Takoma neighborhood. It really does have a neighborhood feel; and its menu is more traditional than trendy. It is a soul food seafood place where the headline items are fried whiting, catfish, shrimp, oysters, and scallops; and where side dishes include first-rate versions of southern standards: mac ‘n’ cheese, collard greens, hushpuppies, and yams.
Shrimp are especially wonderful: firm plumpies just barely veiled in well-seasoned crust. Whiting fillets — which regulars get in immense sandwiches — burst with creamy, full-flavored meat inside their firmer golden coats.
Mac ‘n’ cheese packs brilliant tang; collard greens perform a delectable sweet/bitter balancing act; yams come sopped with spicy sugar sauce; and hushpuppies are irresistibly unctuous.
Banana pudding doesn’t look impressive, served already portioned out into a plastic container for the take-out trade. But a few spoonfuls deliver revelation. This is great banana pudding: extraordinarily creamy, chocked with slices of banana that are tender but not mushy, and with cookies that vary from dry and crumbly cake to moist veins of grain.
Service is pretty much do-it-yourself. Place an order and pay at the counter. The house policy is that customers then pick up their own food when it is ready, but when we visited for an early lunch, the staff cheerfully brought the meals to our table.