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Best seafood restaurants in New York

Dive into NYC's best fish shacks.

It’s awfully easy to forget that Manhattan is an island, but happily New York has plenty of top-notch seafood restaurants to remind you that we are indeed surrounded by water. From New-England–style fish shacks and classic New York oyster bars, to haute European seafood palaces, we’ve compiled this list of best places to devour seafood in Gotham. Did we miss your favorite restaurant for fish in NYC? Join the conversation in the comments.

Le Bernardin

Critics' pick

New York dining mores have experienced a seismic paradigm shift in the past decade, toppling Old World restaurant titans and making conquering heroes of chefs that champion accessible food served in casual environments. But Le Bernardin—the city’s original temple of haute French seafood—survived the shake-up unscathed. Guests who find the $190 tasting menu or $120 four-course prix fixe out of reach can still experience the kitchen’s finesse in the lounge area, via stunning bar snacks: raw kanpachi topped with beads of wasabi tobiko ($18), for example, or gorgeous scallop ceviche ($18) resting in a pool of grassy olive oil.

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Midtown West

Marea

Critics' pick

Michael White's whose extravagant, spectacular shrine to the Italian coastline is a worthy indulgence. Spend you shall, and with great rewards: Start with crostini topped with velvety sea urchin and petals of translucent lardo, then move onto seafood-focused pastas, like fusilli spiraled around chunks of octopus in a bone-marrow–enriched sauce or sedanini (like ridgeless rigatoni) in a smoky cod-chowder sauce with potatoes and speck.

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Midtown West

Pearl Oyster Bar

Critics' pick

This convivial, New England–style joint was a forerunner of the city’s fish-shack trend. The outstanding lobster roll—sweet, lemony meat laced with mayonnaise on a butter-enriched bun—is Pearl’s raison d’être, but more sophisticated dishes fare equally well: A bouillabaisse features briny lobster broth packed with mussels, cod, scallops and clams, with an aioli-smothered crouton balanced on top—a great value at $20. For dessert, try a bittersweet chocolate mousse topped with a quenelle of barely sweetened whipped cream. Finally, a restaurant worthy of its hype.

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West Village

Ed's Lobster Bar

Critics' pick

Chef Ed McFarland's New England–style fish shack is a Soho staple. If you secure a place at the 25-seat marble bar or at one of the few tables, expect superlative raw shellfish, delicately fried clams and lobster served every which way: steamed, grilled, broiled, chilled, stuffed into a pie and—the crowd favorite—in the lobster roll. Here, it’s a buttered bun full of premium chunks of meat with just a light coating of mayo.

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Nolita

Elias Corner

Elias’s grilled fish stands out even in a ’hood packed with seafood-centric Greek restaurants. Those in the know order the swordfish kebabs, fired up simply with green peppers, onions and tomatoes. Dessert isn’t served on weekends, but keep an eye out for the occasional special of loukoumades—sweet dough fritters drizzled in honey.

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Astoria

Esca

Critics' pick

Part of the Mario Batali–Joe Bastianich empire, Esca's menu takes a whirl through Southern Italian seaside cooking. Start with the signature raw antipasti, called crudi, then move on to excellent, shareable pastas such as succulent square-cut maccheroni alla chitarra with sea urchin and crab.

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Hell's Kitchen

Lure Fishbar

Critics' pick

The retro yacht interior at this sexy subterranean restaurant might make you forget you’re docked in Soho. Hit the sushi bar to compare the flavors and textures of premium catches, or grab a table for a more extensive meal. Lure’s greatest achievement is its treatment of the classics. Dishes that have become rote at so many fish-focused eateries—seared yellowtail glazed in dashi, a lobster roll stuffed with sweet meat—are executed here with the dazzling skill usually reserved for more ambitious menus.

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Soho

Grand Central Oyster Bar & Restaurant

Some commuter bars are built for killing time, but this historic spot could entice you to miss your train on purpose. The O-Bar dates back to 1913, and its vaulted ceilings and desultory service suggest its institution status. Stick to platters of iced, just-shucked oysters spanning dozens of varieties, from Baja to Plymouth Rock.

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Downtown

The John Dory Oyster Bar

Critics' pick

April Bloomfield and Ken Friedman’s Ace Hotel endeavor is an understated knockout. Tall stools face a raw bar stocked with a rotating mix of East and West Coast oysters, all expertly handled and impeccably sourced. True to form, the rest of Bloomfield’s tapas-style seafood dishes are all intensely flavored. Chilled lobster tastes larger than life, its sweet flesh slicked in an herbaceous tomalley vinaigrette. Meanwhile, warm dishes take their cues mostly from the garlic-and-olive-oil belt—meaty octopus doused in aioli, plus miniature mussels stuffed with boisterous mortadella meatballs.

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Midtown

Russ & Daughters

Critics' pick

Russ & Daughters has been serving lox, herring and other specialty foods since 1914. But one of our favorite delicacies here is a more modern invention: the Super Heeb sandwich, slathered with horseradish cream cheese, wasabi-flavored roe and sublime whitefish salad.

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Lower East Side

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