The Real Reason You Should Avoid Ordering Fish On Mondays At Restaurants

Where do you go to get advice on dietary and food choices? Every five years, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services update and release the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The guide aims to help all Americans — healthy and unhealthy — make good choices when it comes to food and drinks.

The current edition (2020-2025) is inclusive, allowing room for people to make adjustments based on their cultural background, personal preferences, and financial status (per Dietary Guidelines for Americans). In addition to developing healthy eating habits over time, the guide's call-to-action — "Make Every Bite Count" — suggests that nutrient-dense foods should take up the majority of your daily caloric intake (~85%). The remaining 15% percent are for free sugars, alcohol, and saturated fat.

These kinds of guidelines are perfect for constructing a healthy and nutritious diet, but they might not always address some of the nuances of the dining experience. Many people turn to chefs, restaurateurs, and even food bloggers for this advice. Here is why one of the most famous chefs and food journalists of all time — Anthony Bourdain — recommends that you avoid ordering fish on Mondays at restaurants.

Fish does not stay fresh for long

In 1999, Anthony Bourdain gave a little piece of advice that would follow him around for the rest of his career. "Don't eat fish on Mondays" is an idea that Bourdain formed based on his years of experience as a cook and a chef. In an article — as well as his best-selling book, "Kitchen Confidential" — Bourdain explained that most chefs get their weekend seafood orders on Friday morning, and the weekdays' fresh stocks don't hit the tables until Tuesday (via The New Yorker). Unfortunately for the diner, that gap means the fish you order on Monday could be up to four days old.

Raw fish can stay fresh by refrigeration for one-to-two days (per EatingWell). Meanwhile, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, cooked fish can be stored in the refrigerator for up to four days. Bourdain cautioned that the chaos of a kitchen often leaves fridge doors open for periods of time (via The New Yorker). 

In 2016, Bourdain backed off on the rule, claiming that times have changed in the kitchen (per Eater). "Maybe if you're eating in an Irish pub, don't order the mussels on Monday on special, but in most places [the food is fresh]" said Bourdain (via Eater). Either way, you might want to think twice about seafood specials on a Monday.