Best restaurants in Los Angeles: LA's best seafood restaurants

Dive into LA's best seafood restaurants from a two-star Michelin fine dining destination to a Santa Monica seafood market.

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  • Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

    Best seafood restaurants in Los Angeles: langoustines at Coni' Seafood

  • Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

    Best seafood restaurants in Los Angeles: langoustines at Coni' Seafood

  • Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

    Best seafood restaurants in Los Angeles: chicharrón de pescado at Coni' Seafood

  • Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

    Best seafood restaurants in Los Angeles: Coni' Seafood

  • Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

    Best seafood restaurants in Los Angeles: smoked marlin tacos at Coni' Seafood

  • Photograph: Noe Montes

    Best seafood restaurants in Los Angeles: the Hungry Cat

  • Photograph: Noe Montes

    Best seafood restaurants in Los Angeles: housemade chorizo, manila clams, sofrito, cavalo nero, grilled bread, aioli at the Hungry Cat

  • Photograph: Noe Montes

    Best seafood restaurants in Los Angeles: seafood tower at the Hungry Cat

  • Photograph: Joshua Lurie

    Best seafood restaurants in Los Angeles: Set A at Jae Bu Do

  • Photograph: Joshua Lurie

    Best seafood restaurants in Los Angeles: Set A at Jae Bu Do

  • Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

    Best seafood restaurants in Los Angeles: Littlefork

  • Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

    Best seafood restaurants in Los Angeles: clams Casino at Littlefork

  • Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

    Best seafood restaurants in Los Angeles: oysters at Littlefork

  • Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

    Best seafood restaurants in Los Angeles: steamed snow crab at Littlefork

  • Photograph: Noé Montes

    Best seafood restaurants in Los Angeles: the Ugly Bunch at Providence

  • Photograph: Courtesy Providence

    Best seafood restaurants in Los Angeles: uni canapé at Providence

  • Photograph: Courtesy Santa Monica Seafood

    Best seafood restaurants in Los Angeles: Santa Monica Seafood

  • Photograph: Courtesy Santa Monica Seafood

    Best seafood restaurants in Los Angeles: Santa Monica Seafood

Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

Best seafood restaurants in Los Angeles: langoustines at Coni' Seafood

As a city by the Pacific, LA doesn't have as many seafood restaurants as one might think it would. But if you're intent on diving in to a raw bar or various seafood classics, there are plenty of good options. Whether you're looking for a special-occasion splurge or a family-style grill, LA's best seafood restaurants fit the bill.


RECOMMENDED: Best Restaurants in Los Angeles


The Hungry Cat

  • Price band: 3/4

David Lentz’s contemporary culinary empire spans from Hollywood to Santa Barbara offering seafood-centric American classics. Santa Monica’s cavernous, beachside outpost screams upscale New England seafood shack, while in Hollywood, you’ll find a lively crowd of date-nighters and brunch-goers piled into cushioned banquettes around stainless steel tables. Start with goodies on the half shell and in the shell from the raw bar—splurge for the eponymous seafood tower ($145)—then progress to lobster and clam rolls and composed plates of land and sea. Depending on the season, you'll find kabocha squash soup paired with Nantucket bay scallops and sage brown butter or whole, grilled striped bass ($28) dressed in carrot purée, spigarello, hazelnuts, blood orange and chermoula. Of course, another way to enjoy the fruits of the sea is the Maryland Mary ($12), an oyster with an Old Bay–rimmed, vodka chaser—a tasty (and eye-opening) cocktail.

  1. Santa Monica/Hollywood
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Providence

  • Price band: 4/4

Chef Michael Cimarusti may have inherited Patina’s original home, but he quickly forged his own culinary identity, establishing one of LA’s premiere dining spots. The seafood-focused restaurant sports an elegant dining room with wave-like glass panels and top-notch white-tablecloth service for an a la carte or tasting menu experience. The meal begins with housemade breads like bacon brioche and nori focaccia and an edible cocktail—a burst-in-your-mouth, spherified Greyhound that goes beyond the usual aperitif. Next up, amuses consist of unexpected, delicate bites such as nasturtium taco with sushi rice, luscious scallop tartare and a high-brow version of chips and dip—crispy baked salmon skin with sea trout spread. Cimarusti combs the world’s waters to showcase pristine seafood in imaginative ways: Meaty Deer Isle, Maine scallops are accompanied by winter vegetables, La Quercia bacon, hazelnuts and brown butter powder, while wild black bass is dressed with tangerine juice-braised fennel, black olives, sweet Anaheim peppers and Pernod.

  1. Mid-City West
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Coni' Seafood

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

The vast expanse east of LAX doesn’t exactly scream seafood destination, but Coni’ Seafood has managed to turn Inglewood into an oceanic dining hotspot. The minimalist, glass-facade space houses grey walls, aquarium-like room dividers filled with under-the-sea tchotchkes and a large, tapered-roof back patio for beachside-style dining. The lean menu includes popular smoked marlin tacos ($9), more than a dozen shrimp dishes from raw to deep-fried and more elaborate house specialties like Pescado Zarandeado ($22/kilo)—butterflied snook fish that’s marinated in soy sauce and grilled to savory perfection over charcoal. Chicharrón de pescado ($16) involves crispy, pan-fried tilapia chunks with tangy soy and lemon sauce, while another standout dish stars sweet langoustines ($20)—bathed in garlic, chiles and lemon juice—and, if you’re lucky, prized roe.

  1. Inglewood
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Jae Bu Do

  • Price band: 2/4

Koreatown's seafood barbecue joint, Jae Bu Do, pays homage to the East China Sea serving its edible bounty in waves at the table. Go with one of the bang-for-your-buck combo sets—even the basic A set is enough to feed a family—that begins with airy, scallion-flecked steamed egg, crisp-edged scallion pancakes, sizzling creamed corn and a heaping bowl of chile-soaked shrimp and snapper ceviche. From there, DIY grill options include sea scallops and mussels on the half shell, whole clams both big and small that pop ready on the grill, large shell-on shrimp, spicy red chile paste–slathered octopus tentacles and plump, foil-wrapped oysters on the half shell. Upgrade to a B or C set to score creatures like abalone, which writhe alive in their shells before yielding tender meat after cooked. Wind down the seafood feast with a comforting (and nonetheless generously-sized) cauldron of chicken soup with vegetables and hand-cut noodles.

  1. Koreatown
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Santa Monica Seafood

  • Price band: 2/4

This LA seafood institution started at Santa Monica Pier and, more than 70 years later, the retail market and café—now operating blocks from the Pacific—is still family-run and the city’s go-to, one-stop shop for all things seafood. The 60-foot, horseshoe-shaped seafood case boasts every imaginable bivalve, crustacean and finned creature with a daily-changing board that lists fresh catches of the day like sturgeon fillets and spiny lobsters. Grab a seat at the raw bar and dive into oysters ($16, half dozen, $30, dozen) and crudo ($15)—choose silky salmon or buttery hamachi—simply dressed with lemon oil, basil and sea salt. Crab Louie ($19) and cioppino ($22) satisfy with text-book versions of the classics, but the best deal might be hearty fish chowder ($4, cup, $7, bowl), chock-full of whitefish, swordfish, and mahi in a corn and potato–studded tomato broth. Join the lunchtime crowd and pre-dinner market rush, or loll over a glass (or bottle) of wine in between services.

  1. Santa Monica
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Littlefork

  • Price band: 2/4

Restaurateur David Reiss (Sunny Spot) and New England-born chef Jason Travi—he honed his cooking chops at Spago and Fraîche—join forces at this contemporary Hollywood restaurant, which pays tribute to the Atlantic. The boxy space features a homey front bar and dining room with faux wood walls, actual-wood tables and shelves lined with jars of pickled vegetables—some end up as starters, like sweet pickled fennel with caraway seeds. The day's oysters ($13, half dozen, $25, dozen) might consist of East Coast bivalves from Barnstable, Rocky Nook or Sweet Petite, whose taste is just as the name suggests. The menu offers a heavy selection of small plates, so order up and share. Oyster sliders ($10) are served with tartar sauce and hot, pickled pepper for a modern take on the po' boy and Clams Casino ($13) are baked with squares of bacon. Don't miss house originals like steamed snow crab ($18) with chermoula and charred lime. For dessert, slabs of buttermilk maple custard pie or sugar-coated apple cider donuts plated with apple butter and salted caramel are a perfect finish.

  1. Hollywood
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