The 15 best Boston seafood restaurants you need to try

Fishing for fresh seafood? Look no further than these local restaurants, raw bars, lobster shacks and fancy fish joints.
North Square Oyster
Photograph: Courtesy North Square Oyster North Square Oyster
By Eric Grossman and Time Out contributors |
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Boston restaurants have spent decades prioritizing the fruits of the sea, from freshly shucked oysters to gourmet lobster rolls. Meantime, some of the city’s newer seafood entries are reinventing the wheel by offering modern options such as smoked whitefish pizzas and fried oyster sliders. Sure, Boston knows a thing or two about pizza and tacos, but it’s the citys culinary expertise on all things aquatic that sets it apart. However you like your just-from-the-water eats, a visit to one of the best seafood restaurants in town should be at the very top of your list of things to do in Boston.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best restaurants in Boston

Best seafood restaurants in Boston

1
Island Creek Oyster Co.
Photograph: Courtesy Island Creek Oyster Co.
Restaurants, Seafood

Island Creek Oyster Bar

icon-location-pin Fenway/Kenmore

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.

2
Row 34
Photograph: Morgan Ione
Restaurants, Seafood

Row 34

icon-location-pin Seaport District

Courtesy of Jeremy Sewall and the team behind Island Creek Oyster Bar, Row 34 has become Fort Points 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.

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3
Neptune Oyster, Restaurants and cafes, Boston
Photograph: Elan Fleisher
Restaurants, Seafood

Neptune Oyster

icon-location-pin North End

Ever since it opened in 2004, Neptune Oyster has been one of the citys most in-demand options for fresh local seafood. (Theres 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.

4
B&G Oysters
Photograph: Courtesy B&G Oysters
Restaurants, Seafood

B&G Oysters

icon-location-pin South End

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.

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5
Select Oyster Bar
Photograph: Courtesy Select Oyster Bar
Restaurants, Seafood

Select Oyster Bar

icon-location-pin Back Bay

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.

6
Waypoint
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Michael C.
Restaurants, Seafood

Waypoint

icon-location-pin 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 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. 

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7
Legal Harborside
Photograph: Courtesy Legal Harborside/Heath Robbins
Restaurants, Seafood

Legal Harborside

icon-location-pin Seaport District

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.

8
Saltie Girl
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Tim K.
Restaurants, Seafood

Saltie Girl

icon-location-pin Back Bay

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.

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9
Ostra
Photograph: Courtesy Ostra
Restaurants, Seafood

Ostra

icon-location-pin Back Bay

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.

10
Mooncusser Fish House
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Mooncusser Fish House
Restaurants, Seafood

Mooncusser Fish House

icon-location-pin Back Bay

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. 

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11
Porto
Photograph: Courtesy Porto
Restaurants, Mediterranean

Porto

icon-location-pin Back Bay

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.

12
North Square Oyster
Photograph: Courtesy North Square Oyster
Restaurants, Seafood

North Square Oyster

icon-location-pin North End

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.

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13
Mare Oyster Crudo and Seafood Bar
Photograph: Courtesy Mare Oyster Bar
Restaurants, Seafood

Mare Oyster Bar

icon-location-pin North End

Part of North End restaurateur Frank DePasquales local empire, Mares 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.

14
The Hourly Oyster House
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Matthew S.
Restaurants, Seafood

The Hourly Oyster House

icon-location-pin Harvard Sq

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.

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15
Atlantic Fish Company
Photograph: Courtesy Atlantic Fish Company
Restaurants, Seafood

Atlantic Fish Company

icon-location-pin Back Bay

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.

See the best seafood restaurants in America

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