11 Best Cities Around The World For Seafood Lovers Slideshow

11 Best Cities Around the World for Seafood Lovers

The taste and smell of seafood can be like a snapshot, evoking memories of a romantic honeymoon in the islands, childhood vacations eating at a seafood shack on the shore, or walking into Nonna's kitchen on Christmas Eve. Seafood is beloved worldwide, and while we may eat it often and in our own backyards, seafood lovers will travel the globe for that perfect meal — one they will remember for years to come.  

That perfect meal could mean enjoying freshly grilled fish on an Indonesian beach while the tide washes over your feet, having ceviche spooned into your cup on the pier from where the fish was caught, or  eating a sushi breakfast at a pre-dawn Japanese fish market.

We assembled this list considering three important factors: quality of seafood, variety of species, and preparation. While it was not a criterion, coastal cities dominated supplying the freshest catches. These cities were then cross referenced with Michelin star ratings, lists of top ranking restaurants, and presence of renowned chefs.

Some seafood and locations are expected — sushi in Tokyo is always a winner — while others bring something new or unique to the table. Larger cities, like Tokyo and San Francisco, are gourmet trendsetters, while a newly resurged South American fishing port is still more up-and-coming. Heading to the dock is a common theme for freshness, but most of these cities have upscale choices as well.  Preparation is equally as important, with each place bringing its own unique flavor and vibe, covering everything from sushi to Cajun.

Keeping all of that in mind, here are 11 awesome seafood cities you'll want to go the distance for. 

#11 New Orleans

New Orleans is world-famous for its food, in particular its seafood. Cajun and Creole, NOLA's local cuisines offer a fantastic and unique mix of seafood dishes with an easily recognizable Louisiana flavor: Seafood stews shrimp étouffée and gumbo; Creole favorites like shrimp creole and jambalaya; Gulf oysters fried or on the half-shell; and catfish all make the Big Easy a must for any seafood lover.

#10 Palermo, Italy

The Sicilian capital's cuisine relies heavily on the island's surrounding seafood incorporated with fresh vegetables and often pasta. In addition to tuna, sea bass, and cuttlefish, Palermo features species less common to other cities on this list  — sea urchin, sardines, anchovies, swordfish  — prepared more obscurely (think sardines or swordfish stuffed with raisins and pine nuts and seafood couscous). Street food is immensely popular in Palermo, sometimes including seafood. 

#9 Valparaiso, Chile

Prior to the opening of the Panama Canal, Valparaiso (or "Valpo") was the most important port city in the southern Pacific. The canal was a blow to Valpo's economy since ships no longer needed the stop between the Pacific and North Atlantic. In 2003, Valpo's historic quarter earned World Heritage Site status, creating a renaissance of sorts. Artists set up shop and with that came a culinary resurgence. Locals and entrepreneurs opened restaurants in restored old houses. Thanks to the nutrient-rich Humboldt Current, a plethora of fresh seafood species swarm the coast bringing immense variety to local cuisine. Small inn-restaurant Espíritu Santo focuses on local fish and seasonal ingredients.

#8 Jimbaran, Bali

The Jimbaran Seafood Cafes, a cluster of restaurants set up near the tide's edge on Jimbaran Bay, offer a unique and memorable dining experience in this fishing village. At this seafood lovers' haven, diners select their own freshly caught, live seafood and it is grilled on the spot over a fire of coconut husks. Red snapper, prawns, squid, and lobster, among other shellfish, are enjoyed while watching the beautiful sunset.

#7 Panama City, Panama

Panama is rumored to mean "an abundance of fish." Undoubtedly, the best place to buy fresh seafood in Panama City is Mercado de Mariscos, a fish market set right on the pier and lined with al fresco cevicherias ladling out this national specialty in plastic cups. Corvina, red snapper, octopus, and langostino are abundant and popular, but many other species and rare delicacies are found.  Panama City is rife with other options for fantastic seafood at reasonable prices, including Maito and Manolo Caracol. 

#6 Madrid

Though your meal won't come with an ocean view, Spain's capital city doesn't disappoint when it comes to seafood. The landlocked city is home to the world's second largest fish market and serves some of the best seafood from Spain's coastal regions. Eating tapas, or visiting several bars and ordering a variety of small plates, is common in Madrid and favorites include prawns with garlic and bocadillo de calamares (fried squid sandwich). Madrid's cuisine is a fusion of various Spanish regions, and you will find everything from authentic Valencian paella at Casa de Valencia to a Galician feast of heaping platters of crab, prawns, and gooseneck barnacles at Ribeira Do Miño.

#5 Boston

Boston is practically synonymous with New England seafood, offering a signature cuisine of pub-style comfort food with the day's fresh catches. Locals and visitors feast on lobster, clams, crab, and scrod served up in classic dishes like New England clam chowder, fried clams, fish and chips, and lobster rolls. The presence of nationally renowned chefs such as Jasper White, Todd English, and Lydia Shire up Boston's status. The Boston-based Legal Sea Foods chain is famous for its quality and variety, and no trip to the city would be complete without a visit to Neptune Oyster or the Yankee Lobster Co. 

#4 Sydney

Sydney, Australia's largest city, is a dream destination for seafood lovers. Australia's clean ocean environment is known for producing high quality seafood, making it easy for Sydney to offer a huge variety of species. While recognized for fish such as salmon, tuna, lobster, abalone, prawns, and barramundithe Sydney Fish Market trades up to 100 species daily and approximately 500 annually. With a large Asian-Australian population, sushi has become extremely popular. Sydney is home to many celebrated restaurants, including Tetsuya's, where the confit of Petuna ocean trout is widely recognized as the world's most photographed dish. 

#3 San Francisco

Yes, San Francisco is a coastal city swimming in freshly caught seafood. And yes, they have their signature seafood dishes, like Dungeness crab (currently inedible, unfortunately, to the dismay of local food-lovers) and cioppino. But, so much more than that, San Francisco is a culinary trendsetter specializing in California fusion cuisine that is a seafood lover's dream. It's home to some of the best chefs in the U.S. as well as James Beard Award-winning and Michelin Star-rated restaurants boasting innovative seafood menu items, like Benu creations sea urchin tarte flambée and lobster coral xiao long bao.

#2 Hong Kong

Its deep, natural harbor and traditional Cantonese-style seafood make Hong Kong a prime seafood destination. Head to the Seafood Market in Sai Kung for seafood so fresh you can literally see it swimming minutes before it's served: Along the waterfront promenade vendors sell their catches directly from their boats; you can then take your purchase — still alive — to a nearby eatery for preparation in Hong Kong's traditional less-is-more style (minimally seasoned then steamed, boiled, or stir-fried). Also popular are the Jumbo Kingdom floating restaurants in Aberdeen Harbour and Lung King Heen in the Four Seasons Hotel, which has three Michelin stars.

#1 Tokyo

With sushi being Japan's most internationally famous and popular dish, Tokyo is a top destination for seafood lovers. Dining options run the gamut from fine dining at prestigious Michelin Star-rated restaurants (Tokyo has more Michelin Stars than any other city) to sushi breakfast at the world's largest, busiest fish market. Tsukiji Fish Market  — a predawn tourist destination and wholesale fish market  — is famous for its live tuna auctions and sushi counters where freshly caught fish practically lands on your plate. If you can get a reservation and have $300 to drop, try the internationally renowned, U.S. President-visited, documentary-inspiring Sukiyabashi Jiro. Both options are often hailed as the world's best sushi, so choose your favorite.