It is hard to deny the charm of a dockside shack with red and white tablecloths, Styrofoam plates, and the sound of your name being called before you dig into some unapologetically decadent fried food. There’s a not-unreasonable conviction that the best place to experience this is New England, where items like fried clams, Maine lobster, and New England clam chowder are ostensibly at home. However, there are some pretty amazing seafood joints outside New England, too; here are 12 of them.
Based on the popularity of our previous article, America’s 40 Best Seafood Shacks, we decided to give the seafood shacks that aren’t located in New England their moment in the sun. Sure, the Maine lobster might not be caught in their backyards, but items like Louisiana crawfish, Hawaiian ahi, and Maryland crab certainly taste better closer to home.
Due to various criteria and personal tastes, we opted not to rank our list, but to instead select fantastic seaside establishments that each offer a unique experience. While conducting our research, we looked at various shacks across the country that are highly rated among diners, are a go-to spot for locals, and have won awards and earned spots on various “best of” and “top” lists.
So before summer ends, make sure you visit at least one casual seafood joint. Remember: Think outside the New England box.
Big John’s Seafood Patio, Erath, La.
Big John’s Seafood Patio
Smack dab in Cajun country and surrounded by crawfish ponds, Big John’s Seafood Patio sells boiled crawfish in three- to 10-pound lots — but they are only open, of course, during crawfish season, which typically begins in March and ends in June (though in 2015, warmer-than-average weather extended the season through July).
Bowen Island Restaurant, Charleston, S.C.
Set among the marshes at the tip of a 13-acre island, Bowen’s was recognized by the James Beard House as an “American Classic.” This legendary restaurant — where customers are encouraged to write on the walls — is famous for its fried shrimp and roasted oysters. Bowen’s opened in 1946, and through the decades has made a name for itself in the world of seafood shacks, even after a devastating fire in 2006 shuttered it temporarily.