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L.A.'s best seafood restaurants

Dive into L.A.'s best seafood restaurants, from a two-star Michelin fine dining spot to a Santa Monica seafood market

Photograph: Jakob N. Layman
Langoustines at Coni' Seafood

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 are a few great options. Check out our favorite seafood restaurants in L.A., from a special-occasion splurge to a family-style grill.

RECOMMENDED: Guide to the best restaurants in Los Angeles

L.A.'s best seafood restaurants

1

Providence

Chef Michael Cimarusti may have inherited Patina’s original home, but he quickly forged his own culinary identity, establishing one of L.A.’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.

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Hollywood
2

Coni' Seafood

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, 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. Chicharrón de pescado involves crispy, pan-fried tilapia chunks with tangy soy and lemon sauce, while another standout dish stars sweet langoustines—bathed in garlic, chiles and lemon juice—and, if you’re lucky, prized roe.

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Inglewood
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3

Fishing With Dynamite

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.

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Manhattan Beach
4

Santa Monica Seafood

This L.A. 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 and crudo—choose silky salmon or buttery hamachi—simply dressed with lemon oil, basil and sea salt. Crab Louie and cioppino satisfy with text-book versions of the classics, but the best deal might be hearty fish chowder, 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.

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Santa Monica
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5

Connie and Ted's

L.A.'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.

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West Hollywood
6

Son of a Gun

Walking into Vinny Dotolo and Jon Shook’s sophomoric 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 knick-knacks frame the walls—what sea quarters wouldn't be complete without a giant mounted fish—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 shrimp toast with 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 at the communal table or the bar; otherwise, limited reservations are available.

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Central LA
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7

Blue Plate Oysterette

L.A. 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.

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West Third Street
8

Cape Seafood & Provisions

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.

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Fairfax District
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9

Mariscos Jalisco

One of the long-standing heroes of the old school taco trucks (aka loncheros), Mariscos Jalisco has earned a deservedly loyal and devoted following. Their signature tacos dorado de camaron lives up to the hype with flavorful and fresh shrimp folded into a corn tortilla that is 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. Follow them on Twitter and don’t forget to bring cash.

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Boyle Heights
10

Malibu Seafood

Malibu Seafood has been an oceanside staple on the PCH since 1972, offering up super-fresh seafood and sunny views of the Pacific. Owned by commercial fisherman, 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 homemade clam chowder or cole slaw) along with a slew of spices, rubs, cookbooks and other kitchen accoutrements to help you cook an incredible seafood dinner. Or if you're interested in dining on the restaurant's three-tiered outdoor patio, hop in the (very long, but swift-moving) line and peruse the menu while you wait. The fish and chips dish is fantastic here, as are the fish tacos and ceviche—but anything you order will be fresh and tasty. If you're not too stuffed after lunch, treat yourself to a locally made ice cream sandwich for dessert. This place has slightly less character (and fewer biker characters) than Neptune's Net, but the food is undeniably fresher and more flavorful.

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Malibu
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11

Water Grill

Downtown L.A. 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.

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Downtown Financial District
12

L & E Oyster Bar

L&E Oyster Bar channels the spirit of the sort of old-school oyster shack you might expect to find on a remote oceanfront highway. The place seats no more than 50, and visitors will find an illuminated sign on the wall announcing the day’s haul of fresh oysters. 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 grilled casino, with butter, bacon and shallots, or a daily special like Tomahawk oysters with harissa. Beyond the namesake bivalves, the rest of the menu is short and succinct: shrimp cocktail, steamed mussels, clam chowder (very good), French fries (excellent), plus a few standard salads and three or four entrées each night. The line-up changes constantly, but some recent standouts have included an excellent kanpachi tartare and a very reputable fried oyster po’boy.

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Silver Lake
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13

Jae Bu Do

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.

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East Hollywood
14

The Hungry Cat

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.

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Pacific Palisades
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Comments

2 comments
Bob S
Bob S

No Gladstones?