Seaside eats: Best summer seafood dishes in NYC

Whether or not you hit the shore this summer, we’ve tracked down the city’s best seafood dishes—from humble clam-shack fare to upscale chefly platters—that conjure oceanfront dining.

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  • Photograph: Virginia Rollison

    Cape Cod clambake for two Extra Fancy

  • Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

    Peel-and-eat shrimp at the Dutch

  • Photograph: Virginia Rollison

    Steamed lobster at Ken & Cook

  • Photograph: Noah Devereaux

    Tempura hake at Prima

  • Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

    Clam Roll at Sea Witch

  • Photograph: Virginia Rollison

    Steamed mussels with spring-green broth at 606 R&D

  • Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

    Fried oyster sandwich at Potlikker

  • Photograph: Noah Devereaux

    Shrimp cocktail at Saxon + Parole

  • Photograph: Virginia Rollison

    Halibut with watermelon and watercress at North End Grill

Photograph: Virginia Rollison

Cape Cod clambake for two Extra Fancy

When the warm weather hits, we want to dig into fresh seafood dishes that are reminiscent of beachfront fare. You might not be able to make it to Maine or even the Rockaways, but you can find standout seafood dishes—like clambakes, steamed whole lobster and crispy clam rolls—right here in NYC. Channel beachside dining with these summery seafood dishes.

Cape Cod clambake for two at Extra Fancy

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

On balmy days, vacationers on the Cape bury speckled black pots—brimming with briny shellfish, round potatoes and fat knobs of corn—in sand fire pits and steam them in seaweed wraps for breezy beach gatherings. Chef Josh Blakely’s stellar ode to those outdoor feasts is perfect for sharing at one of the umbrella-covered tables on Extra Fancy’s sunlit back patio. He first throws juicy kielbasa, sweet corn, blanched potato quarters, a lobster tail and jumbo shrimp in their shells onto the grill. The smoke-perfumed mixture is added in stages to a pot of clams and mussels, steamed with Budweiser until the shellfish release their liquid, and finished with a shallot-butter sauce punched up with hard cider and apple vinegar. Sop up the lush drippings with hunks of corn bread or the chunks of potatoes clustered at the bottom of the pot.

  1. 302 Metropolitan Ave, (between Driggs Ave and Roebling St), 11211
Book online

Peel-and-eat shrimp at the Dutch

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

At Andrew Carmellini’s boisterous downtown eatery, diners can ramble across America via the regionhopping menu. Touch down in port city New Orleans with this gloriously messy French Creole favorite. Carmellini gently poaches thick prawns in a light broth flavored with vegetables and spices, and dusts them with a zesty Cajun spice mix of paprika, onion and garlic powders, dried herbs and cayenne. You’ll stain your fingers a rusty red prying tender meat from the shells and dunking the crustaceans in a plucky horseradish-spiked red rémoulade sauce. One bourgie update: steamed and rolled hand towels for wiping your digits clean.

  1. 131 Sullivan St, (at Prince St), 10012
More info

Steamed lobster at Ken & Cook

Doors flung open onto sunny Kenmare Street offer a cacophony of car horns, not waves, but this emblematic summer dish will transport you to the shoreline anyway. Chef Richard Diamonte doesn’t mess too much with the classic preparation, simply steaming a 1.5-pound Maine lobster in a Combi Oven, which is gentler than boiling water. The split-tailed crimson crustacean is served on a regal aluminum platter with a ramekin of golden drawn butter and bright halves of lemon. There are cloth napkins rather than paper bibs at this pretty spot; after crushing claws and knuckles with the cracker, sending juice and shell bits flying, you may have to call for a few more.

  1. 19 Kenmare St, (between Bowery and Elizabeth St)
Book online

Tempura hake at Prima

  • Price band: 2/4

Although this East Village seafood spot namechecks the Japanese deep-frying technique, tempura, on the menu, the standout dish is closer in form to the classic British fish-and-chips. Chef David Malbequi cloaks two fillets of the white-fleshed hake in an effervescent batter zipped up with Sam Adams Boston lager, plunges them in boiling oil and then sprinkles them with peppy Old Bay. The result: moist slabs of opalescent fish encased in burnished, ethereally puffy shells. Get yours alongside tangy buttermilk tartar sauce laced with fresh tarragon and a side of Old Bay–seasoned fries ($6) to complete the plate.

  1. 58 E 1st St, (between First and Second Aves)
More info

Clam roll at Sea Witch

  • Price band: 1/4

Channeling the signature sandwich of famed Ipswich, Massachusetts, seafood shack the Clam Box, chef Andrew Wandzilak imports full belly clams directly from the sammie’s coastal New England hometown. Instead of the traditional top-loading bun, Wandzilak swaps in a squishy Martin’s potato roll. A heaping mound of tubby clams, rich with oceanic funk, spill over the splayed bun’s halves. The flash-fried bivalve’s crackling cornmeal coating contrasts with its succulent center, while cool iceberg lettuce and a homemade tartar sauce dappled with capers and pickled jalapeños brighten the whole package.

  1. 703 Fifth Ave, (between 21st and 22nd Sts)
More info

Steamed mussels with spring-green broth at 606 R&D

  • Price band: 2/4

Mashing up garden and sea, chef Ilene Rosen cooks down an armload of bold, fresh greens—spinach, cilantro, parsley, dill and green garlic—for the herbaceous base of this steaming crock of mussels. Scoop up the brackish liquid with shells and slurp it down with the plump and tender bivalves. The buttery, grassy broth is addictive, especially soaked into the charred slices of country white bread that are served alongside.

  1. 606 Vanderbilt Ave, (between Prospect Pl and St. Marks Ave)
Book online

Fried oyster sandwich at Potlikker

  • Rated as: 3/5
  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Chef-owner Liza Queen offers this whimsical twist on Louisiana’s po’ boy sandwich, changing out the French bread and adding a few upmarket touches. She dredges creamy, pungent oysters—the sweetbreads of the ocean—in cornmeal, deep-fries them until crunchy and plunks them into a crisp-toasted ciabatta roll along with thick, chewy bacon and swipes of mayo. Tendrils of peppery baby arugula and a dollop of bittersweet Meyer-lemon marmalade cut through the sub’s layers of richness.

  1. 338 Bedford Ave, (between South 2nd and 3rd Sts)
More info

Shrimp cocktail at Saxon + Parole

  • Rated as: 3/5
  • Price band: 3/4

The chilled American seafood standby reclaims its ’50s glory, perched on a silver bowl in a crystalline bed of crushed ice, at this sceney downtown eatery. Crisp breakfast radishes, cucumber sticks and lemon wedges frame the pinkish curled shrimps, which are poached in kombu-fortified sea broth and decorated with a tangle of pea shoots. Grab a tail and dunk the toothsome prawn into the homemade cocktail sauce—chef Brad Farmerie’s mellower update is made from a ketchupy base spiced with sriracha, horseradish and ginger, and scented with yuzul.

  1. 316 Bowery, (at Bleecker St)
Book online

Halibut with watermelon and watercress at North End Grill

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Chef Floyd Cardoz brought this signature halibut plate from the beloved, now-shuttered Tabla to his new station at Danny Meyer’s New American grillery, steps from the West River banks. Cardoz combines the fish with warm-weather staple watermelon as a tribute to his father, who liked to season the juicyfruit with black pepper. Panfried halibut with a crispy rice-cereal crust sits in a pool of luscious watermelon curry, piquant with cumin, turmeric and ginger. A bed of wilted peppery watercress, a crown of white watermelon seeds and green beads of lime balance the elegant, summery dish.

  1. 104 North End Ave, (at Murray St)
Book online

Users say

1 comments
Maggie
Maggie

No mention of Oceana or Esca? TWo of my favorite seafood places....Oceana's raw bar and patio make summer in the city all worth it!