Best seafood restaurants in Boston
One of the city’s best seafood-focused eateries, ICOB resides in a high-visibility Kenmore Square space. A mix of Sox fans, local seafood lovers, and guests of the (connected) Hotel Commonwealth pack the large, loud dining area to slurp down the namesake bivalves. Chef Jeremy Sewall puts out an inviting, seafood-heavy menu that runs the gamut from creative plates to warm buttered lobster rolls.
Courtesy of Jeremy Sewall and the team behind Island Creek Oyster Bar, Row 34 has become Fort Point’s go-to spot for wickedly fresh seafood. On weekdays, business types stop in to close deals over platters of oysters and orders of lobster rolls (offered hot and cold, based on Sewall’s grandmother’s recipe). Those waiting for a table have more time to explore the extensive, seafood-friendly wine and beer lists.
Ever since it opened in 2004, Neptune Oyster has been one of the city’s most in-demand options for fresh local seafood. (There’s almost always a line out the door.) Lined with pressed tin, subway tiles and etched glass, the tiny space exudes an unmistakably retro charm. Expert shuckers handle a variety of fresh bivalves with aplomb, and rare is the order that doesn't include one of the city's most lauded lobster rolls.
Looking to indulge in some prosecco and bivalves? There may be no better option than Barbara Lynch’s subterranean South End eatery, which carries more than a dozen different east and west coast oysters. Cooked classics are also served here, including fried Ipswich clams and a pair of lauded lobster sandwiches: a classic lobster roll and a lobster B.L.T. When the weather allows, the backyard patio is a popular spot for alfresco slurping.
Chef Michael Serpa - formerly of Neptune Oyster - opened his first solo venture in a townhouse-like enclave in the heart of the Back Bay. Serpa marries New England seafood with Mediterranean techniques, exemplified by the signature blue prawns a la plancha. While some diners enjoy a multi-course feast, others stop in for a quick oysters-and-wine fix.
Situated just outside of Harvard Square, Michael Scelfo’s seafood-focused restaurant spotlights the chef's forward-thinking approach to coastal-inspired fare. Starters run the gamut from raw bar and delicate crudo to classic caviar service with modern touches (plankton and white corn blini, anyone?) Seafood items are woven through an assortment of pizzas, pastas, and composed plates. The cocktail menu places a focus on absinthe, and the beer and wine lists are populated with inviting, hard-to-find options.
As the flagship location within the iconic Legal Sea Foods empire, Legal Harborside offers three floors of different dining experiences, all with sweeping views of Boston Harbor. You can glimpse oyster-shucking action at the informal first-floor dining room, which has counter seating the length of the semi-open kitchen. Here, the menu focuses on raw bar items, soups, salads, pastas, crowd-pleasing seafood faves, and wood-grilled dishes. The second floor is the epitome of fine dining with an elegant, carpeted space reminiscent of a ship’s captain’s quarters, and an upscale, fish-focused menu. The third floor is reserved for private dining, and the roof deck and bar—complete with a retractable roof—is wildly popular with after-work and pre-concert crowds.
For those who might claim they’ve tried it all, seafood-wise, Saltie Girl finds ways to always reinvigorate the classics. The rich, bacon-kissed clam chowder, Ipswich fried clams, and a warm buttered lobster roll are all worth the wait for a booth or bar seat inside the narrow townhouse space. Also notable: tinned seafood offerings, from imported sustainable caviar to Icelandic cod liver.
From its busy intersection where the Back Bay meets the Theatre District, Ostra dishes out an assortment of sophisticated seafood. The exquisite menu is dotted with Mediterranean touches, and there are plenty of big-ticket items on offer (think three-pound lobsters and $155 Israeli caviar service), perfect for special occasions and celebratory business dinners.
The restaurateurs from 80 Thoreau in Concord understand their way around a regional line catch. This multi-story, seafood-focused enterprise is focused on the second floor restaurant, where a variety of locally-sourced seafood is served with aplomb. (For the full experience, try the five-course “tasting of local fishes” menu.) Patrons looking for something lighter can visit the Moon Bar, and for those in a hurry, there's Cusser's, a street-level takeaway spot specializing in seafood and roast beef.
It’s New England meets Mediterranean via Jody Adams, whose seafood-centric, Greek-inspired menu favors simple preparations so as to let the ingredients sing. Hamachi tartare gives way to steamed clams and grilled sardines; entrées include striped bass a la plancha and whole roasted lobster. On nights when a full sit-down meal seems too much, slip into the bar for some fried oysters and a Greek negroni.
This two-floor North End restaurant is a throwback gem, with penny tiles, cafe-style seating, oversized windows and a neon sign out front. Though seasonally driven, the menu does right by the evergreen classics: clam chowder, lobster rolls, raw bar offerings. The small bar in back is the place to drink your way through the small but potent cocktail list.
Part of North End restaurateur Frank DePasquale’s local empire, Mare’s calling card is the crudo menu, best enjoyed on the sleek patio with fire pits and a retractable roof (making year-round alfresco dining possible). The kitchen preps a variety of crowd-pleasing, Italian-accented seafood dishes, including filling plates of pasta and light salads.
This cheery, boisterous Harvard Square restaurant aims to deliver all of your most desired seafood dishes in style. Clam chowder, lobster bisque and fried oysters give way to classics like fish ‘n’ chips, seared scallops and whole roasted branzino; there’s also a separate lobster menu that includes a lobster roll and lobster and shrimp scampi. In the summer months, request a patio table in the charming hidden alley a couple of doors down.
A city staple since 1978, Atlantic Fish Company has thrived on an underserved premise: when it comes to seafood, keep it simple. Daily catches can be broiled, sauteed, fried or blackened; if you’re feeling fancy, the lobster ravioli or swordfish piccata will scratch that itch nicely. This is the place you bring your parents (or some out-of-town clients) to introduce them to allure of New England seafood.