As an ocean-adjacent city rife with beaches, L.A. doesn’t have as many seafood restaurants as one might think it would. But if you’re craving a decandent lobster roll, cheap food truck fare or a tower of oysters at a fine dining restaurant, there a few excellent options abound. Check out our favorite seafood restaurants in L.A., including a special-occasion splurge, a family-style grill and even a local market.
This is a seafood splurge unlike any other. In fact, it’s an experience unlike any other. The Michelin-starred Joshua Skenes brought his San Francisco sea-focused stunner to Los Angeles, where it sits nearly hidden at the base of the Beverly Center. Outside, traffic whizzes by; inside, it’s all warm wood decor, an enthralling open kitchen and king crab bobbing silently in the live tanks—an almost contemplative setting for some of the country’s best shellfish and fresh-caught fish. (We say “almost” because that pumped-up ’80s playlist keeps things just fun enough to stave off any stuffiness.) The menu changes daily, ensuring the freshest ingredients on your plate: buttery poached marbled flounder, showstopping by-the-pound crab flayed out on the table, fresh spot prawns at $18 apiece, melt-in-your-mouth sea urchin served on the rocks. Sourced meticulously from independent fishermen and local authorities, it’s some of the finest seafood available in all of California—of course, we wouldn’t blame you if you got distracted by the eye-catching poultry, seasonal vegetables or remarkable venison steak, either.
Michael Cimarusti may have inherited Patina’s original home, but he quickly forged his own culinary identity—and accolades. The James Beard Award winner and Michelin-garnered chef established one of L.A.’s premier dining spots in the space, his seafood-focused tasting-menu restaurant that’s remained one of L.A.’s best dining destinations for more than a decade. The elegant dining room sports wave-like glass panels and top-notch white-tablecloth service, which set the scene for amuses of unexpected, delicate bites such as nasturtium taco with sushi rice; luscious scallop tartare; or a highbrow 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 Maine scallops are accompanied by seasonal 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. Our tip? Reserve a spot for Friday lunch, when you can enjoy the menu at a deep discount.
Christopher Tompkins might just make the best lobster roll in all of Los Angeles, but he doesn’t stop there. The Broad Street Oyster Co. founder and owner gives you two choices: warm and buttered or East-Coast style—chilled and in a thin sheen of mayo—with toppings like uni and truffle. There are garlicky sautéed razor clams, succulent spot prawns, shrimp cocktails, potato chips served with caviar, and, of course, a ton of bivalves. He and chef Alex Jermasek go to great lengths to source sustainably farmed and otherworldly-delicious oysters from around the globe, which get shucked to order and served all over L.A. thanks to their frequent pop-up schedule. In addition to weekly stints at Smorgasburg and Hollywood Night Market, you can now find Broad Street in a tucked-away corner of Malibu Village right on the creek, a casual, fun seafood-packed residency that runs through at least the end of 2019 (and believe us, we’re really hoping it sticks around longer).
The vast expanse east of LAX doesn’t exactly scream “seafood destination,” but Coni’Seafood managed to turn Inglewood into an oceanic dining hotspot—and from there, it was L.A. seafood domination, baby. Such is the power of this Nayarit-style fish spot, now with three locations that offer a tight menu of smoked marlin tacos, more than a dozen shrimp dishes from raw to deep-fried, and more elaborate house specialties like Pescado Zarandeado: butterflied snook fish that’s marinated in soy sauce and grilled to savory perfection over charcoal. Chicharrónes de Pescado involves crispy, pan-fried tilapia chunks with tangy soy and lemon sauce, while another standout dish stars sweet langoustines—bathed in garlic, chilies and lemon juice—and, if you’re lucky, prized roe.
David LeFevre’s fervor for fresh bivalves blows coastal dining doldrums out of the water, showcased here 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, frequently revealing recipes that surpass their archetypes: a cozy coconut-tinged Thai broth brimming with shrimp and mussels, an Asian pear-and-kimchi–spiked albacore tartare that obliterates the ubiquitous (and often bland) menu item, etc. You can’t miss with the mollusks and crustaceans—unquestionably the reason this diminutive restaurant is so hard to land a walk-in seat.
L.A.’s seafood guru, Michael Cimarusti of Providence, pays homage to his New England roots with a modern take on the clam shack. The lofty, casual restaurant in the heart of West Hollywood features some prime alfresco dining; indoors, grab a seat at the raw bar for a close-up view of the kitchen. To eat, order from the raw bar (think: oysters, clams, uni, 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, and seasonal specials like soft-shelled crab sandwiches. Classic seaside plates include grilled or steamed lobster served with drawn butter, fried clams served with tartar sauce and fries, and there’s always a daily special or two worth considering. Don’t even think about skipping the blondie for dessert, and if you’re in the mood for beef, this is also home to one of the best burgers in town.
Walking into Vinny Dotolo and Jon Shook’s second restaurant—the first being the meat-intensive Animal—feels like walking into a sea captain’s quarters (Captain Ahab’s, maybe, if he was more self-aware). Various nautical-themed knickknacks frame the walls, but a dive, Son of a Gun is not. Their take on the lobster roll, for instance, takes beautiful chunks of lobster draped in lemon aioli and plops them on a plump (albeit tiny) brioche bun. Other hits: the phenomenal shrimp toast sandwich with hoisin, herbs and Srircha mayo, and, oddly enough for a seafood restaurant, the fried chicken sandwich, piled with spicy pickles and crunchy slaw. Like most crew quarters, this space is small. Get there early to nab a seat, otherwise, limited reservations are available.
One of the long-standing heroes of the old-school taco trucks, Mariscos Jalisco has earned a deservedly loyal and devoted following. Their signature tacos dorado de camaron live up to the hype with flavorful and fresh shrimp folded into corn tortillas, which are then fried to a golden brown and topped with thick slices of avocado and a vibrant and complex salsa roja. You’ll also want to save room for their legendary tostadas like the Poseidon topped with shrimp ceviche, octopus and a fiery red aguachile of shrimp. street-cart staple, the quality and bright nature of their seafood surpasses many of L.A.’s fancier seafood joints.
Malibu Seafood’s been an oceanside staple since 1972, a fresh-fish and sunny-views destination for decades along PCH. Owned by commercial fishermen, the tiny spot with the giant lobster billboard has both a fish market and a café. You can pick up whole fish to go here (as well as fillets, shellfish and house-made clam chowder and slaw) along with a slew of spices, rubs, cookbooks and other kitchen accoutrements to help you cook an incredible seafood dinner. If you’re interested in dining on the restaurant’s three-tiered outdoor patio, which we always are, hop in the line and peruse the menu while you wait. The fish and chips are fantastic here, as are the fish tacos, ceviches, steamed clams and fried oysters. If you’re not too stuffed after lunch, treat yourself to a locally made ice cream sandwich for dessert.
L&E Oyster Bar channels the spirit of the sort of old-school oyster shack you might expect on a remote oceanfront highway, but all done up for Silver Lake. Visitors will find an illuminated sign on the wall announcing the day’s haul of fresh oysters, which should always be how your meal starts. The best way to eat an oyster is, of course, raw, but if you like yours cooked, the kitchen here offers several options, the best of which is simply fried. Try the daily specials, like Tomahawk oysters with harissa. Beyond the namesake bivalves, the rest of the menu runs the gamut: crab with green goddess dressing; shrimp cocktail; crab spaghetti; grilled whole branzino; steamed mussels; clam chowder (very good); French fries (excellent); plus a few standard salads and a slew of sides, like grits, roasted beets, or lobster mac and cheese.
Dudley Market is the kind of wine bar and seafood spot you’ll wish you had in your neighborhood, no matter how many incredible wine bars or seafood spots your neighborhood already has. You can slurp oysters with a briny chablis throughout the day, then tuck into heartier fare like whole rockfish or crispy-pork pho with a glass or bottle of gamay at night. Situated just off the main thoroughfare and right by the ocean, this charmer is all about the freshest seafood available—some of it caught by owner Conner Mitchell himself. A rotating menu of line-caught fish keeps the vibe new each visit, while neighborhood-friendly events like Sunday bring-your-own-vinyl nights help keep the tables packed, too. Like we said: Why don’t we have a Dudley Market in our neighborhood?
This L.A. seafood institution started at the Santa Monica Pier and, 80 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 sprawling seafood case boasts every imaginable bivalve, crustacean and finned creature, with a chalkboard that lists fresh catches of the day such as sturgeon fillets and spiny lobsters. Grab a seat at the raw bar and dive into oysters and crudo simply dressed so the quality of the fish can shine through. Crab Louie and cioppino satisfy with textbook versions of the classics, but the best deal might be hearty fish chowder, chock-full of daily-rotating fish in a corn- and potato-studded tomato broth.
K-town’s resident seafood BBQ joint, Jae Bu Do, pays homage to the East China Sea by 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—which begin with airy steamed egg, crisp-edged scallion pancakes, sizzling cheese corn and a heaping bowl of chili-packed mussel soup. From there, DIY grill options include sea scallops and mussels on the half shell, large shell-on shrimp, spicy chili–slathered octopus tentacles and more. Upgrade to a B or C set to score creatures like abalone, which writhe in their shells before yielding tender meat when cooked.
The Chesapeake Bay’s beloved Rappahannock Oysters landed on the West Coast via this sleek oyster bar in the center of ROW DTLA. Cousins and co-owners Ryan and Travis Croxton sell oysters farmed on their grandfather’s own land, not to mention raw-bar hits like bay scallops in a tart burnt-orange juice. And sure, the Virginia oysters grown by the owners are the must, but there’s also a brief sandwich menu—hello, oyster po’ boys and lobster rolls—plus one of the best burgers in town and salads, burrata, peel-and-eat shrimp, ceviche and even house-made, Southern-leaning desserts such as chocolate peanut butter mousse for a truly East Coast-meets-West Coast meal.
This beachy, all-day restaurant right off the pier is, unsurprisingly, all about seafood. But it’s also all about Venice Beach’s past, taking design inspiration from the boardwalk’s original dance hall, and it’s all about brunch and cocktails and ice cream. Think: your classic seaside seafood shack with a few elegant twists. You can find some stellar fried calamari here, plus other stalwarts such as lobster rolls, oysters and memorable, dill-coated poached shrimp, as well as some wholly creative, unique concoctions. Seriously, we dream about the deconstructed chowder: a hearty chunk of Atlantic cod surrounded by an allium-scented cream broth that’s anything but boring.
The charming, old-timey blue-and-white exterior is the first hint: You’re in for a classic treat. Oysters on the half shell and seafood towers find their place at this Santa Monica raw bar and restaurant, but its main inspiration is old-school East Coast clam bars and seafood shacks. Choose from crab cakes, lobster rolls, fish and chips, clam chowder and crispy calamari, but know you can get a few modern, L.A.-staple dishes, too: fish tacos, lobster mac and cheese, and tuna tartare, to name a few. Oh, and don’t forget the key lime pie—it even rivals Fishing with Dynamite’s stellar version.
There’s plenty of seafood to be found inside this dark, regal restaurant chain, whether you’re in bustling DTLA or oceanside at Santa Monica. Executive chef Jonathan Moulton is turning the catch of the day into dishes like wild, plancha-grilled Mexican swordfish with tapenade; jumbo soft-shelled crab with brown butter and watermelon salad; and Chilean seabass with butternut squash gnocchi. For the after-work crowd, a raw bar and an outstanding bar program will satiate your appetite until dinner, which, let’s face it, you’ll probably want to stay and eat there anyway.
Campanile’s Mark Peel has been delighting Angelenos for decades, working in some of the city’s most hallowed kitchens and co-founding the likes of La Brea Bakery. But he pivoted to a concept much more casual than oh, say, his alma mater (Spago) when he launched Prawn. His cheerful stall in Grand Central Market serves internationally-inspired, seafood-centric stews and sandwiches, like his must-order Thai lobster roll or the choose-your-own-broth mussels (hello, kombu broth with ginger and garlic). Nautical, gleaming and a perfect example of fast-casual that doesn’t sacrifice quality, it’s an ideal spot to satisfy a Downtown seafood fix.