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Oysters
Photograph: Shutterstock

The best seafood restaurants in Boston

Look no further than these local restaurants, raw bars, lobster shacks and fancy fish joints

By Olivia Vanni and Eric Grossman
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With Boston's easy ocean access, it has a reputation for its fresh fishwhich means that eateries in this city really have to bring it, if they want to be considered one of the best seafood restaurants around. While some spots remain loyal to the New England culinary tradition, dishing out creamy clam chowder and lobster rolls, others tend to channel outside influences when preparing these locally caught ingredients. So whether you're looking for an excellent version of the classics or have a hankering for something more modern, this list has got you covered. For a singularly-focused seafood experience, check out the best clam chowder in Boston, the best lobster in Boston or the best oyster bars in Boston. And when weather permits, grabbing a seat at one of Boston's best places for waterfront dining will let you add serious coastal ambiance to your already amazing seafood experience.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best restaurants in Boston

A seafood destination we love so much that we welcomed them into Time Out Market

Mooncusser Fish House
Photograph: Brian Samuels

Mooncusser Fish House

Restaurants Seafood Back Bay

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. Or, to experience their greatest hits in a buzzy culinary-focused environment, stop by the Cussers at Time Out Market Boston.

Best seafood restaurants in Boston

Saltie Girl
Photograph: Courtesy Saltie Girl

1. Saltie Girl

Restaurants Seafood Back Bay

This Back Bay raw bar and seafood emporium is known for pushing the limits of customary fish preparations—and having a whole lot of fun while doing it. From its fried lobster and waffles to its rock crab carbonara, this place is well worth the wait for a seat in its brownstone space or on its patio. Other noteworthy coastal attractions: its selection of New York-style smoked fish used to top a bagelette and cream cheese, as well as an incredible assortment of tinned seafood, including imported sustainable caviar and Icelandic cod liver.

2. Holly Crab

Restaurants Allston/Brighton

Bringing a little bit of the bayou to Boston, this Allston spot serves the seafood we New Englanders know and love—Cajun style. You have your pick from Northern staples like lobster, shrimp and clams, as well as Southern classics such as crawfish and crab. These shellfish are then boiled with a selection of sides, doused in your flavor of choice and seasoned with whatever amount of spiciness you desire. Boils aside, Holly Crab also features seafood of the fried variety and, in line with its North-meets-South vibe, New England clam chowder and shrimp sausage gumbo.

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Ivory Pearl's caviar and tots
Photograph: Ran Duan

3. Ivory Pearl

Restaurants Seafood

No one does seafood quite like Ivory Pearl. The Brookline raw bar and fish emporium feeds folks an array of ocean offerings, including shellfish towers, uni service and swordfish steak frites. Drawing upon Asian influences, this place knows how to wow, serving jaw-dropping dishes like its smoking king crab trophies, homemade tots and caviar, unagi grilled cheese and its frequently Instagrammed octopus tentacle dog.

4. Atlántico

Restaurants Seafood South End

If you’re in search of seafood with serious Spanish flair, look no further than Atlántico. This South End spot’s menu mostly consists of fish, showing off the ocean’s best ingredients in the form of crudos and conservas, hot and cold tapas, and a la plancha plates. Among its Iberian-inspired dishes: mackerel salad with piquillo peppers, salt cod croquettes with squid ink aioli and, of course, paella.

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Row 34
Photograph: Emily Hagen

5. Row 34

Restaurants Seafood Seaport District

Courtesy of Jeremy Sewall, Row 34 has become Fort Points go-to spot for wickedly fresh seafood. On weekdays, business types come in to close deals over platters of oysters and orders of lobster rolls that are offered hot and cold—the latter of which is based on Sewall’s grandmother Ethel’s recipe. Could it honestly get any more New England than that?

Aqua Pazza
Photograph: Courtesy Aqua Pazza

6. Aqua Pazza

Restaurants Mediterranean North End

This North End eatery is crazy for fish, from start to finish. The Italian-inspired restaurant offers an array of seafood starters, including a selection of crudos, calamari and scallop fritto misto, and grilled octopus. More substantial dishes include its lobster ravioli—or “pillows”—as well as its namesake dish, aqua pazza, where the kitchen takes its catch of the day and bathes it in a garlicky white wine broth. While the entire menu is an incredible ode to the ocean, we highly recommend getting the whole fish, which is carved for you tableside.

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B&G Oysters
Photograph: Courtesy B&G Oysters

7. B&G Oysters

Restaurants Seafood South End

Prosecco and oysters are a perfect pairing, especially at Barbara Lynch’s subterranean South End eatery. Here, you'll find more than a dozen different types of oysters, as well as cooked classics like fried Ipswich clams, stuffed lobster and filets of freshly caught fish. When the weather allows, take your seafood alfresco in the restaurant's popular backyard patio.

Legal Harborside
Photograph: Courtesy Legal Harborside/Heath Robbins

8. Legal Harborside

Restaurants Seafood Seaport District

As the flagship location within Legal Sea Foods' empire, Legal Harborside offers three floors of diningall with fantastic fish-focused menus and sweeping views of Boston Harbor. On the first floor, crowds devour raw bar items and casual faves; the second floor is the epitome of elegance with its selection of upscale fare; while the third floor is reserved for private dining. After your meal, join the sea of people on its celebrated rooftop for a cocktail.

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Select Oyster Bar
Photograph: Courtesy Select Oyster Bar

9. Select Oyster Bar

Restaurants Seafood Back Bay

Brought to you by Michael Serpa, this cozy bar supplies Back Bay with the ocean's most beautiful bounty. Marrying New England seafood with Mediterranean techniques, the menu features must-easts like its signature blue prawns a la plancha, "taverna style" whole roasted sea bream and its own, saffron-infused spin on bouillabaisse. While some diners enjoy a multi-course feast, others stop in for a quick oysters-and-wine fix.

Neptune Oyster, Restaurants and cafes, Boston
Photograph: Elan Fleisher

10. Neptune Oyster

Restaurants Seafood North End

Ever since it opened in 2004, Neptune Oyster has been one of Boston's most in-demand options for fresh local seafood, as demonstrated by its ever-present line out the door. Accented 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 finesse, as the kitchen cranks out a steady stream of its lauded lobster rolls.

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11. Waypoint

Restaurants Seafood Harvard Sq

Situated just outside of Harvard Square, Michael Scelfos seafood-focused restaurant spotlights the chef's forward-thinking approach to coastal-inspired fare. Starters include a raw bar, delicate crudo and a classic caviar service with modern touches (try a plankton and white corn blini). Seafood shines on pizzas, pastas and composed plates. Pro tip: Try the uni buccatini with smoked egg yolk, pecorino and bottarga—it's a total umami bomb in your mouth.

Ostra
Photograph: Courtesy Ostra

12. Ostra

Restaurants Seafood Back Bay

From its busy intersection between Back Bay and the Theatre District, Ostra's kitchen specializes in sophisticated seafood. The exquisite menu is dotted with Mediterranean touches, with plenty of splurge-worthy items—think three-pound lobsters, salt-crusted branzino and $170 golden Ossetra caviar serviceperfect for special occasions and celebratory dinners.

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Mare Oyster Crudo and Seafood Bar
Photograph: Courtesy Mare

13. Mare Oyster Bar

Restaurants Seafood North End

Part of North End restaurateur Frank DePasquales local empire, Mare is known for its superb selection of crudo and fish-forward pasta dishes. From its lobster ravioli with smoked bacon and cream sauce to its truffle crusted tuna, this place makes seafood positively decadent. And if you need anymore convincing, this eatery's name literally translates to "ocean," so it sets the seafood tone from the very start. 

14. Eventide Fenway

Restaurants Seafood Fenway/Kenmore

Fans of the James Beard award-winning Portland restaurant flock to this more casual branch in the Fenway. The menu includes favorites like oysters on the half shell, crudo, tartare, clam chowder and Maine lobster stew. The fried fish sandwich is an unexpected delight but, of course, the real star is the brown butter lobster roll: a rich, nutty, singular treat.

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15. The Barking Crab

Restaurants Seafood Seaport District

Set right along the Fort Point Channel, this red-shingled seafood shack and open-air tent serves as party central during the summer months for locals and tourists alike. Gather at the spot's picnic tables, beneath lamps made of lobster traps strung with Christmas lights, for steamers, fried Ipswich clams or a full New England seafood bake. Just remember to stay hydrated and really push those Dels Shandies.

Atlantic Fish Company
Photograph: Courtesy Atlantic Fish Company

16. Atlantic Fish Company

Restaurants Seafood Back Bay

A city staple since 1978, Atlantic Fish Company has thrived on letting seafood shine by keeping it simple. Daily catches can be broiled, sauteed, fried or blackened—but if you’re feeling fancy, you can always try the lobster ravioli or cioppino. This is the place to go when you need to impress out-of-towners with the allure of New England seafood.

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