Portland Lobster Shack
The United States is a huge country, one that stretches from sea to shining sea, with an incredible bounty of fresh seafood to be found not only on the East and West Coasts, but the Gulf coast as well. But which states are home to the most amazing restaurants for seafood?
Lenny & Joe's
Connecticut’s southern coast faces the Long Island and Block Island Sound, and its most inland town is only about 50 miles from the water. Tale a drive along I-95 and you’ll find an endless array of destinations for great seafood (especially traditional New England fare like lobsters and clams), like Lenny & Joe’s Fish Tale in Branford, Johnny Ad’s in Old Saybrook, and Captain Scott’s in New London; but even further inland you’ll find plenty of great seafood spots, like Max’s Oyster Bar in West Hartford.
Washington State is home to the Puget Sound, which is overflowing with salmon, trout, char, cod, Pollock, rockfish, and many other types of seafood. Head to Seattle and you’ll not only find plenty of amazing seafood restaurants like Elliott’s Oyster House and Ivar’s, you’ll also encounter the Pike Place Market, home to one of America’s best seafood markets. Seemingly every town in Washington has countless great seafood restaurants, like Fins Bistro in Issaquah, Andy’s Fish House in Snohomish, Tides tavern in Gig Harbor, and Breakwater in Sekiu.
South Carolina is most renowned for its 187-mile long coastline of sea islands and subtropical beaches, and seafood from its local waters is celebrated throughout the state. In Charleston you’ll find great seafood restaurants like Bowens Island and Hyman’s; Myrtle Beach is home the Crab Cake Lady; the Lowcountry’s famous boil is made with the state’s famed shrimp; and Hilton Head Island has spectacular oysters.
Da Poke Shack
Being that it’s located right in the middle of the South Pacific, it can be assumed that Hawaii has some spectacular seafood. Mahi mahi, ahi tuna, wahoo, and opah are some of the state’s finest culinary contributions to American culinary scene, and visitors will discover a wide array of delicious fish you can’t find anywhere else in the United States, like akule, enenue, hebi, onaga, and opakapaka. To get a sense of how locals are putting their own spins on these delicious fish, visit Da Poke Shack in Kailua-Kona, Jameson’s By the Sea in Haleiwa, and Azure in Waikiki.
The Clam Shack
In Maine, seafood isn’t just something to eat, it’s a way of life. While it’s most famous for its legendary lobsters (and lobster shacks), you’ll also find cod, crabs, flounder, haddock, halibut, oysters, salmon, shrimp, scallops, striped bass, tuna, and many other species in its coastal waters. Visit The Clam Shack in Kennebunkport, The Lobster Shack in Cape Elizabeth, and Red’s in Wiscasset for the best lobster rolls you’ll ever taste, Eventide and J’s in Portland for legendary oysters, and The Captain’s Restaurant in Cape Porpoise, Dolphin Marina in Harpswell, and Boone’s in Portland for fresh fish.
Island Creek Oyster Bar
The fishing industry has been a quintessential aspect of the Massachusetts economy and way of life since colonial times, and seemingly every town along its ample coastline (and inland along its numerous lakes) is home to countless fishing operations and stellar seafood restaurants. More than 80 different types of fish live in the commonwealth’s inland waters, including catfish, bass, and trout, and along the coast you’ll find cod, tuna, haddock, pollock, halibut, striped bass, and of course plenty of lobsters, oysters, and clams. If you’re looking for a great local seafood shack in Massachusetts, look no further than The Bite in Menmesha, Arnold’s in Eastham, Clam Box in Ipswich, Moby Dick’s in Wellfleet, and Woodman’s in Essex. In Boston, Don’t miss Island Creek Oyster Bar, Neptune Oyster, Mare, and Ostra.
Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute
Alaska has an astounding 6,640 miles of coastline, far more than any other state (Florida, the next in line, has 1,350). And as can be assumed, the seafood pulled from its waters is some of the finest on earth. Crab, salmon, shrimp, lobster, and halibut are some of its primary catches, and there are countless wholesalers that will ship it directly from the water to your door (or restaurant). Most of the seafood restaurants in Alaska are fairly no-frills operations, cooking it simply and without any fuss; the quality is good enough to stand on its own. Visit Hangar on the Wharf in Juneau or The Whale’s Tail, Glacier Brewhouse, or Bridge Seafood Restaurant in Anchorage for a taste.
The bounty of the Gulf of Mexico is on full display in Louisiana, where nearly 40 percent of the country’s estuary marshes (the lower channels of a river where brackish water supports a massive array of marine life) can be found. The largest commercial fishery in the U.S., Louisiana is best known for its oysters, shrimp, blue crab, crawfish, catfish, drum, red snapper, and tuna. GW Fins, Acme Oyster House, and Peche in New Orleans; Parrain’s, Mike Anderson’s, and Drusilla in Baton Rouge; and Fisherman’s Cove in Kenner are just a handful of the legendary seafood spots you’ll find there.
Joe's Stone Crab
Florida is in the enviable position of facing both the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, and the bounty coming out of those waters is simply astounding. Amberjack, blue and stone crab, catfish, conch, spiny lobster, grouper, snapper, shrimp, clams, mullet, pompano, and scallops are just a handful of the species of seafood you’ll find along its coasts. There are countless restaurants both high-end and low-end to enjoy the freshest catch, but we recommend Alabama Jack’s in Key Largo, City Seafood in Everglades City, The Seafood Bar in Palm Beach, Shells in Tampa, and La Camaronera in Miami.
Fishing with Dynamite
From San Diego in the south to Crescent City up north, all 840 miles of California’s coastline are home to a truly astounding array of seafood. Down south you’ll find spot prawns, swordfish, rock crab, rockfish, and mackerel; in the Santa Barbara Channel you’ll find spider crab, sea urchin, and ridgeback shrimp; along the Central Coast you’ll find Dungeness crab, albacore tuna, white seabass, abalone, and oysters; and up north there’s king salmon, sole, pink shrimp, hake, and sea urchin (plenty of these species can be found in multiple regions, of course). The Monterey Bay is also home to a wide variety of marine life. Not only are California’s waters chock-full of amazing seafood, there are also many amazing restaurants highlighting the bounty; legendary shacks include Barbara’s Fishtrap in Half Moon Bay, Fishing with Dynamite in Manhattan Beach, Malibu Seafood in Malibu; Swan Oyster Depot in San Francisco, and Splash Café in Pismo Beach. Those looking for a more upscale experience should check out The Hungry Cat in Hollywood, Providence and Son of a Gun in Los Angeles, and Farallon in San Francisco.