Thanks to the city’s proximity to open waters, seafood has always been an important part of the New York diet. In the early days of settlement, street vendors hawked fresh oysters for just cents apiece; today, a happy hour oyster goes for a buck. (To us, that’s still cheap eats.) Gotham’s obsession with seafood hasn’t died down, and no matter where you are in the city—whether you’re near the source at one of these waterfront restaurants or far from any shore at one of many Midtown restaurants—you can score a great plate of fish. These are the best seafood restaurants in NYC.
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Seafood restaurants in NYC
We can’t resist buttery lobster rolls and simple shucked oysters on the half shell, but when it comes to seafood, Fish Cheeks’ coastal Thai preparations are far more exciting. Taking its name from a part of the fish that is considered to be a delicacy in various cultures, Fish Cheeks offers a more nuanced understanding of Thailand’s cuisine: Bangkok-style sour orange curries and chilli jams demonstrate the diversity of the country’s regions. Ohm Suansilphong, who grew up around his parents' restaurant in Thailand, and co-owner Jenn Saesue, bring their Noho restaurant’s family-style joy to the convivial atmosphere of our communal dining tables. MENU: Oyster with nam jim seafood sauce and fried shallots Phlaa Salmon (lightly cured salmon, chili jam, mint, makrut lime, lemongrass and Thai bird's eye chili) Zabb Wing Fried Chicken (wings with chili, lime, mint) Shrimp in 3 Crab Sauce (lightly cured shrimp, garlic, lime juice, cilantro roots and Thai bird's eye chili) Som Tum Corn Salad (Vegan) (steamed corn, cherry tomato, long beans, garlic, lime ai bird’s eye chili) Coconut Crab Curry (southern style curry with crab meat house-made curry paste and sea beans served with rice) Vegan Green Curry (Thai basil, red finger chili, roasted seasonal vegetables served with rice) Tom Yum Noodle Soup with Tiger Prawns (lemongrass broth, mung beans noodles, tiger prawns)
New York dining mores have experienced a seismic paradigm shift in the past decade, toppling Old World restaurant titans and making conquering heroes of chefs that champion accessible food served in casual environments. But Le Bernardin—the city’s original temple of haute French seafood—survived the shake-up unscathed.
Michael White's extravagant, spectacular shrine to the Italian coastline is a worthy indulgence. Spend you shall, and with great rewards: start with crostini topped with velvety sea urchin and petals of translucent lardo, then move on to seafood-focused pastas, like fusilli spiraled around chunks of octopus in a bone marrow–enriched sauce, or strozzapreti nestling hunks of jumbo lump crab, sea urchin and basil.
Russ & Daughters has been serving lox, herring and other specialty foods since 1914. But one of our favorite delicacies here is a more modern invention: the Super Heeb sandwich, slathered with horseradish cream cheese, wasabi-flavored roe and sublime whitefish salad.
This bright fish shack, with wainscoting and whitewashed walls, offers a the bill of fare balanced between the curated raw bar (16 oysters, as well as clams and lobster) and plated dishes that salute seafood favorites, ranging from greaseless clam strips with a tangy tartar sauce to a robust shellfish-enriched lobster bisque.
From behind a minimalist ebony counter at Neta, rock-star chefs Jimmy Lau and a beanie-capped Nick Kim—longtime disciples of sushi demigod Masa Takayama—brazenly served peanut-butter ice cream and uni-rich risotto alongside their gleaming, à la carte tiles of nigiri. That populist streak softly colors this 20-seat follow-up but where a pricey omakase was an option at Neta, here it’s mandatory.
Scuffed into submission by owner Joshua Boissy and the designers behind nearby Moto, this gorgeous salon—its green walls fogged with a faux patina that suggests decades of Gauloises smoke—is devoted to the twin pleasures of oysters and absinthe: two French Quarter staples with plenty of appeal in Brooklyn.
Some commuter bars are built for killing time, but this historic spot could entice you to miss your train on purpose. The O-Bar dates back to 1913, and its vaulted ceilings and desultory service suggest its institution status. Stick to platters of iced, just-shucked oysters spanning dozens of varieties, from Baja to Plymouth Rock.
This fish shops focuses on sourcing only seasonal and sustainable—and sometimes local—catch like wild Alaskan salmon and Arctic char at a retail counter. They put the fresh goods to use in dishes like lobster rolls, kelp-noodle pad Thai and Baja-style fish tacos dressed with citrus-cabbage slaw and chipotle-lime mayo, doled out in a tiled space outfitted with marble counters and high-top tables.
Chef Ed McFarland's New England–style fish shack is a Soho staple. If you secure a place at the 25-seat marble bar or at one of the few tables, expect superlative raw shellfish, delicately fried Ipswich clams and lobster served every which way: steamed, grilled, broiled, chilled, stuffed into a pot pie and—the crowd favorite—in the lobster roll. Here, it’s a buttered bun full of premium chunks of meat with just a light coating of mayo.