Before I set out for Wheeling, I asked my friends knowledgeable about the Northern Panhandle (one being Wellsburg, W.Va., native and Morgantown food blogger Candace Nelson), “Where should I go for a taste of Wheeling?” The two responses that kept coming up: Coleman’s Fish Market and DiCarlo’s Pizza. Both seem to be honored eateries for the Wheeling area, and both have a long history in the region.
I started with Coleman’s, which is tucked into the revitalized Centre Market district of Wheeling, just a few blocks from the National Road. To me, what makes this 98-year-old establishment really unique is that the name describes exactly what the business is: a fish market that also serves great seafood.
There are two ends to Coleman’s: the restaurant part, where you wait in line to order and receive prepared food, and the fish market, which sells a huge variety of fresh, raw seafood. The “traditional” menu item is Coleman’s fish sandwich, which is several strips of fish put between two slices of white bread. There’s also a version which has a sauce over the fish, but I stuck with the regular sandwich and Coleman’s thick seasoned fries, both of which lived up to my high expectations (since I only had heard great comments).
After the food order is finished, tables are outside Coleman’s door in Centre Market in a larger, open seating area. When I visited on a Friday evening, both the fish market and restaurant weren’t packed, but definitely had a steady stream of customers. Coleman’s is featured on Roadfood, which provides some other great meal ideas and a little history.
Coleman’s had its start in 1914 by John Coleman, and has remained in the family throughout its history. As far as I know, it has remained in Centre Market for its entire existence. Centre Market is an attraction in itself, with the oldest section dating to 1853.
Coleman’s is open Monday and Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Wednesday, Thursday ad Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. (perhaps to help cater to Wheeling’s Catholic population during Lent?). It is closed Sunday.
To get to Coleman’s from U.S. 40, follow Main Street south through downtown and across Wheeling Creek. Make a left on 22nd Street until it intersects with Market Street. Parking is available on streets surrounding Centre Market. To reach Coleman’s, call 304-232-8510.