As an ocean-adjacent city rife with beaches, LA doesn't have as many seafood restaurants as one might think it would. But if you're craving a decandent lobster roll or looking for a tower of oysters at a fine-dining restaurant, there are a few great options. Check out our favorite seafood restaurants in LA, from a special-occasion splurge to a family-style grill.
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Best seafood restaurants in LA
Chef Michael Cimarusti may have inherited Patina’s original home, but he quickly forged his own culinary identity, establishing one of LA’s premiere dining spots. The seafood-focused restaurant sports an elegant dining room with wave-like glass panels and top-notch white-tablecloth service for an a la carte or tasting menu experience. The meal begins with housemade breads like bacon brioche and nori focaccia and an edible cocktail—a burst-in-your-mouth, spherified Greyhound that goes beyond the usual aperitif. Next up, amuses consist of unexpected, delicate bites such as nasturtium taco with sushi rice, luscious scallop tartare and a high-brow version of chips and dip—crispy baked salmon skin with sea trout spread. Cimarusti combs the world’s waters to showcase pristine seafood in imaginative ways: Meaty Deer Isle, Maine scallops are accompanied by winter vegetables, La Quercia bacon, hazelnuts and brown butter powder, while wild black bass is dressed with tangerine juice-braised fennel, black olives, sweet Anaheim peppers and Pernod.
The vast expanse east of LAX doesn’t exactly scream seafood destination, but Coni’ Seafood has managed to turn Inglewood into an oceanic dining hotspot. The minimalist, glass-facade space houses grey walls, aquarium-like room dividers filled with under-the-sea tchotchkes and a large, tapered-roof back patio for beachside-style dining. The lean menu includes popular smoked marlin tacos ($9), more than a dozen shrimp dishes from raw to deep-fried and more elaborate house specialties like Pescado Zarandeado ($22/kilo)—butterflied snook fish that’s marinated in soy sauce and grilled to savory perfection over charcoal. Chicharrón de pescado ($16) involves crispy, pan-fried tilapia chunks with tangy soy and lemon sauce, while another standout dish stars sweet langoustines ($20)—bathed in garlic, chiles and lemon juice—and, if you’re lucky, prized roe.
David LeFevre's fever for fresh bivalves blows coastal dining doldrums out of the water, showcased in sterling specimens of jumbo shrimp, live Peruvian scallops, Littleneck clams, PEI mussels and oysters pulled from all directions to grace the restaurant's showpiece shellfish towers. The MB Post chef also offers tailored renditions of tried-and-true cooked seafood classics from across the seven seas, frequently revealing recipes that surpass their archetypes, as in a cozy coconut-tinged Thai broth brimming with shrimp and mussels, and an Asian pear and kimchi–spiked albacore tartare that obliterates the ubiquitous (and often bland) menu item. You can't miss with the mollusks and crustaceans—squeaky fresh scallops on the half shell and creamy, plump PEI mussels—unquestionably the reason this diminutive restaurant is so hard to get a seat at right now.
This LA seafood institution started at the Santa Monica Pier and, more than 70 years later, the retail market and café—now operating blocks from the Pacific—is still family-run and the city’s go-to, one-stop shop for all things seafood. The 60-foot, horseshoe-shaped seafood case boasts every imaginable bivalve, crustacean and finned creature with a daily-changing board that lists fresh catches of the day, like sturgeon fillets and spiny lobsters. Grab a seat at the raw bar and dive into oysters ($16, half dozen; $30, dozen) and crudo ($15)—choose silky salmon or buttery hamachi—simply dressed with lemon oil, basil and sea salt. Crab Louie ($19) and cioppino ($22) satisfy with text-book versions of the classics, but the best deal might be hearty fish chowder ($4, cup, $7, bowl), chock-full of whitefish, swordfish and mahi in a corn and potato–studded tomato broth. Join the lunchtime crowd and pre-dinner market rush, or loll over a glass (or bottle) of wine in-between services.
LA collides with the Northeast at Blue Plate Oysterette, where oysters on the half shell and seafood towers find their place at the raw bar. As the offshoot of Blue Plate Oysterette's Santa Monica location, the 3rd Street joint is just as beachy chic as its Westside counterpart. Choose from fresh plates of fish tacos and lobster mac and cheese, crab cakes, and fish and chips, and even non-seafood items like New York strip steak and grilled chicken. Oh, and don't forget the key lime pie—it rivals Fishing with Dynamite's stellar version.
David Lentz’s contemporary culinary empire spans from Hollywood to Santa Barbara, offering seafood-centric American classics. Santa Monica’s cavernous, beachside outpost screams upscale New England seafood shack, while in Hollywood, you’ll find a lively crowd of date-nighters and brunch-goers piled into cushioned banquettes around stainless steel tables. Start with goodies on the half shell and in the shell from the raw bar—splurge for the eponymous seafood tower—then progress to lobster and clam rolls and composed plates of land and sea. Depending on the season, you'll find kabocha squash soup paired with Nantucket bay scallops and sage brown butter or whole, grilled striped bass dressed in carrot purée, spigarello, hazelnuts, blood orange and chermoula. Of course, another way to enjoy the fruits of the sea is the Maryland Mary, an oyster with an Old Bay–rimmed, vodka chaser—a tasty (and eye-opening) cocktail.
Michael Cimarusti has already proven his seafood prowess with the continued success of Providence as well as Connie and Ted's, but Cape Seafood & Provisions skews toward a more casual crowd. The Fairfax market and takeout deli offers sustainable, fresh catches of the day—halibut, cod, mackerel—all packed in ice alongside tubs of both chunky New England and Manhattan chowder. Confer with the helpful staff behind the counter for tips on how to cook your filet of salmon or selection of shrimp. On the shelves, bags of Grist & Toll grain, Connie and Ted's fish fry batter and plenty of cocktail sauce are the perfect supplements to take home. And if you're planning on a seafood spread at the beach of the Hollywood Bowl, Cape's has picnic baskets to customize as well.
Downtown LA might not be a stone's throw from the ocean, but there's plenty of seafood to be found inside this upscale restaurant on Grand Avenue (another location sits on Ocean Ave in Santa Monica). Executive chef Chris Idso is turning the catch of the day into dishes like sea bass with butternut squash gnocchi, black cod miso with Szechuan glazed yams and pork belly, and sea scallops on a bed of cauliflower puree. For the after work crowd, a raw bar and an outstanding bar program will satiate your appetite until dinnertime.
It's one thing to promise a slice of New England, but it's quite another to deliver a full-fledged, Martha's Vineyard-esque lobster shop. Knuckle & Claw, a lobster roll spot that began in farmers' markets, has set up a brick and mortar in both Silver Lake and Santa Monica, though it channels the Vineyard to a T. Framed photos of the island and its landmarks hang on the walls, while the small kitchen staff takes your order with a kind of small town charm. The lobster roll is straight-up Vineyard, too—cold and fresh, it's served in two sizes (four ounces of lobster in a large bun, two ounces in a small) and accentuated by a small amount of butter and mayonnaise. A secret blend of spices top the large chunks of lobster meat. There are other items on the menu, too—a Dungeness crab roll, chowder, shrimp rolls—but, to put it in Vineyard speak: that lobstah is wicked good, and it's all you need.
Koreatown's seafood barbecue joint, Jae Bu Do, pays homage to the East China Sea serving its edible bounty in waves at the table. Go with one of the bang-for-your-buck combo sets—even the basic A set is enough to feed a family—that begins with airy, scallion-flecked steamed egg, crisp-edged scallion pancakes, sizzling creamed corn and a heaping bowl of chile-soaked shrimp and snapper ceviche. From there, DIY grill options include sea scallops and mussels on the half shell, whole clams both big and small that pop ready on the grill, large shell-on shrimp, spicy red chile paste–slathered octopus tentacles and plump, foil-wrapped oysters on the half shell. Upgrade to a B or C set to score creatures like abalone, which writhe alive in their shells before yielding tender meat after cooked. Wind down the seafood feast with a comforting (and nonetheless generously-sized) cauldron of chicken soup with vegetables and hand-cut noodles.
LA's seafood guru, chef Michael Cimarusti of Providence, pays homage to his New England roots with a modern take on the clam shack. The lofty eatery in the heart of West Hollywood features alfresco dining with seating outdoor and indoor—grab a seat at the raw bar for a close-up view of the kitchen—and a constellation of ceiling lights. To eat, order from the raw bar (think: oysters, clams, lobsters, crabs, shrimp and spot prawns) or get hands-on with oysters Rockefeller or deviled oysters. Two-fisters include the lobster and clam rolls, served on a griddled top-split bun. Classic seaside plates include grilled or steamed lobster served with drawn butter, fried clams served with tartar sauce and fries, and a clam bake of mussels, steamer clams, lobster, linguiça (Portuguese sausage) and steamed potatoes and corn. Domestic craft brews are offered on tap and by the bottle, as well as a California-centric selection of reds and whites by the glass, carafe and bottle. A limited list of cocktailsare just as appetizing as the food, and a perfect way to start a summer feast.