Seafood Restaurants: In a nation renowned for its carnivorous cravings, an enigmatic celebration of aquatic delights thrives—echoing through clambakes, crab galas, piscatorial fiestas, and oyster soirees. These twenty-one extraordinary marine sanctuaries in the United States not only perpetuate these time-honored customs but also weave novel narratives of culinary excellence.
While the more formal entries stake their claim among the upper echelons of our roster of paramount French diners in the nation, the more laid-back establishments masterfully straddle both spheres. Picture succulent lobster rolls harmonizing with craft ales of unparalleled distinction. A tapestry of origins unfurls: some, hailing from the northern and eastern realms, go head-to-head with Boston’s finest culinary sanctums; others, basking in milder climes, unravel the tapestry of Southern fare.
Yet, an invisible thread weaves through these marine citadels: a shared, unequivocal worthiness of your time and resources. For the latest updates, don’t forget to join Time Out USA’s Facebook enclave and subscribe to their newsletter!
Elite Eight: Pinnacle Seafood Palaces Across America
Washington, DC’s Fiola Mare: A Sibling’s Symphony.
In the vibrant tapestry of the Trabocchi family’s Italian heritage, the dedication to life’s sumptuous tapestry exudes an unspoken melody. While Fiola resonates as the senior, Fiola Mare, the younger sibling, harmoniously follows suit. The repertoire spills forth—crudo, caviar, and delicacies like Spanish crawfish and razor clams—orchestrated in the most cerebral yet sensual cadence. This opus emanates not only from its menu but also the resplendent vantage on the Potomac River and the vibrant personas it entwines.
From chickpea cream infusing a Norwegian skrei with flair to bucatini serenading smoked sea urchin and Calabrian chilies, each note resonates. The vaulted bar and cellar cascade with concealed treasures, and the locals gather, indulging in lavish repasts and the indulgent bomboloni. Yet, it’s not just the lavish dinners they gather for; the languid breakfast rituals hold their own charm.
New York, New York: Le Bernardin – A New Chapter.
In a decade where New York’s culinary narrative metamorphosed, informal, relatable cuisine and their heralds dethroned Old World epicurean giants. Amid this transformation, Le Bernardin, the city’s eminent shrine to French marine marvels, held steadfast, undeterred by the tumult.
Within its sanctuary, guests revel in bar symphonies—kanpachi adorned with wasabi tobiko or scallop ceviche ensconced in verdant olive oil. The finesse, even as the $205 tasting odyssey or the $140 prix fixe tantalize beyond reach, remains indisputable.
Providence, California; Los Angeles, California – Maritime Maestro.
Assuming the reins of the former Patina stronghold, Chef Michael Cimarusti promptly infused his culinary prowess, transforming his establishment into a quintessence of gastronomy in Los Angeles. In this abode of seafood, glass walls mimic undulating waves, whilst the tableau is graced by white-clad attendants. A duet of à la carte and tasting menu options sates discerning palates.
In-house bread, like bacon brioche and nori focaccia, partners an edible libation—spherified Greyhound, a burst of aperitif allure. Cimarusti forages oceans for the extraordinary: black bass dances with tangerine-infused fennel; scallops from Deer Isle waltz with winter greens and hazelnuts. An oceanic symphony, indeed.
An institution since 1914, Russ & Daughters, a Jewish deli, etches its legacy in impeccably sliced lox, herring, and other gastronomic gems. A century-long wait culminated in 2014 with the birth of Russ & Daughters Café, a grandeur dedicated to tier-one delicacies—lox, caviar, and beyond.
New York, New York’s Russ & Daughters – Epicurean Odyssey.
The Hattie, a mosaic of smoked whitefish, kippered salmon, and Gaspe Nova smoked salmon, beckons. The Super Heebster, an emblem of eclectic palates, migrates from grocery store to café. This New York symphony, bedecked with whitefish and baked salmon, resonates the century-old palate parade.
Neptune Oyster, Boston, MA – Unveiling the Unexpected.
In the realm of small parcels lies grandeur—Neptune Oyster, an unassuming realm that since 2004 revitalized New England’s maritime essence and reshaped an ancestral Italian neighborhood. Surprises emerge—pickled beef tongue, Gruyère in fried oysters, sea urchin ditalini. Sparkling shellfish symphonies and chowder crescendos grace the stage.
Proprietor Jeff Nace orchestrates a wine symposium, curating bottles with scholarly zeal. Legendary waits waltz with eventual triumph, magnifying jubilation.
Portlander Roe – Enigma Embodied.
Roe, a pearl within the oyster’s embrace, metamorphoses via nature’s alchemy into the opulent prix fixe rendezvous at B&T Oyster Bar. A waltz through the seven-course chef’s tasting, accompanied by libations, navigates the amalgamation of Asian and Western melodies.
King crab over gnocchi marries bouillabaisse and kimchi; confit swordfish and truffled ponzu resonate. Butterfish sashimi, a specialty, cascades alongside frozen foie gras. Noodles birthed from cuttlefish, squid’s chorizo—the repertoire unfurls in harmony.
Swan Oyster Depot, San Francisco, California – Century-Old Serenade.
A centenary legacy, Swan’s, juxtaposes a fish market and a luncheon counter, adorning the narrative with filleted, cracked, and shucked marine marvels. A quartet—clam chowder, San Francisco bread, Dungeness crab, smoked salmon—sets the stage. The curtain rises on a tableau of Miyagi oysters, a seafood symphony unfolding before the audience.
Coni’s Seafood, Inglewood, California – Culinary Coastal Odyssey.
Inglewood, an unexpected haven, houses Coni’s Seafood—a minimalist haven adorned with maritime memorabilia, a terrace inviting al fresco indulgence. Smoked marlin tacos and a mosaic of shrimp dances—raw to deep-fried—populate the stage.
Coni’s opus resounds—Pescado Zarandeado, snook fish swathed in soy and roasted over charcoal. Chicharrón de pescado, tilapia kissed by sour soy and lemon, enthralls. Sweet langoustines, a treasure trove—garlic, chiles, and lemon juice—finds its spotlight. An overture of oceanic prowess.