10 of New England’s Best Seafood Restaurants


The fact is, seafood – including fish – doesn’t travel, and the best and tastiest seafood dishes can be found near the source: on the coast. There are no finer or fresher fish or seafood restaurants than those found near New England’s beautiful coastline, from Connecticut to Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and up to Maine.

The Lobster Trap – Bourne, Massachusetts

The Lobster Trap in Bourne, Massachusetts — Photo courtesy of Linda Laban

This indoor-outdoor restaurant and the Fresh Seafood Market (for home cooks) is located in decidedly non-touristy Bourne on western Cape Cod. This is where lucky locals and in-the-know visitors enjoy succulent whole fried clams, creamy clam chowder, stuffed quahog (a giant clam) and, of course, lobster – all while overlooking a stretch of natural salt marsh. and a giant pop culture mural.

Union Oyster House – Boston, Massachusetts

Union Oyster House in Boston, MassachusettsUnion Oyster House in Boston, Massachusetts — Photo courtesy of Linda Laban

Not only do you get a great deal of Boston history here at America’s oldest continuously operating restaurant (certified by a National Register of Historic Places plaque), but the seafood is excellent. To Union Oyster Houseyou’ll find creamy “yankee-style” chowder, scrod (which simply means catch of the day), crispy fish and chips and oysters, the latter freshly shucked from the very bar where famed cook Julia Child and, long before her , statesman Daniel Webster sat down to swallow them.

Oyster Club – Mystique, Connecticut

Oyster Club in Mystic, ConnecticutOyster Club in Mystic, Connecticut — Photo courtesy of Linda Laban

This highly honored restaurant overlooking this charming, bustling Connecticut coastal town, combines a cozy indoor dining room and open kitchen with a multi-level outdoor deck, known as the Treehouse. While al fresco dining here is eclectic, indoor diners can watch the strong hands of the oyster scaler open up the gentle Mystics and the more brackish Fishers Islands, each drawn from Long Island Sound.

Local and more sustainable fish, such as fluke, pan-roasted and served with oyster mushrooms and fingerling potatoes, or baby smelt, which is used in the Caesar salad dressing instead of anchovies.

Select Oyster Bar – Boston, Massachusetts

Select an oyster bar in Boston, MassachusettsSelect Oyster Bar in Boston, Massachusetts — Photo courtesy of Linda Laban

Located in a Back Bay townhouse, this animated box is a favorite with downtown folks, who climb to cram at the bar, the big table in the window, or the veranda. Dine on hamachi crudo with tangy passion fruit coulis, blue crab salad with crispy and creamy celeriac remoulade and steaming bowls of saffron-infused bouillabaisse loaded with whole shrimp, mussels, clams and local monkfish.

Bob’s Clam Hut – Kittery, Maine

Bob's Clam Hut in Kittery, MaineBob’s Clam Hut in Kittery, Maine — Photo courtesy of Linda Laban

In 1956, the late Robert Kraft, a Mainer native and avid clam digger, opened Bob’s Clam Shack in his parents’ backyard off Route 1 in Kittery. It was a success and has remained a beloved seafood restaurant. The menu has expanded to include clam chowder, lobster stew and rolls and other fish favorites.

At some point, a second recipe for cooking clams was added: longtime employee Lillian Mango took issue with Kraft’s simple flour-dredged clams, and Lillian’s method of pre-dipping the clam in egg wash remains an option. Order Bob’s or Lil’s, or do a split combining the two and discuss the draw, just like Bob and Lillian did!

Coquette – Boston, Massachusetts

Coquette in Boston, MassachusettsCoquette in Boston, Massachusetts — Photo courtesy of Linda Laban

This magnificent restaurant in boston seaport brings a bit of “ooh la la” to the New England seafood scene. Try the imposing Petite Plage, home to oysters, littleneck clams, jumbo shrimp, lobster tails, mussels and tuna. More humbly, but equally tasty, try a simple plate of Northeastern oysters – including the meaty Wellfleets and Cotuits from Cape Cod – or one of the jumbo wild shrimp. Both are splendid companions for an aperitif or a cocktail.

The Banks Fish House – Boston, MA

The Banks Fish House in Boston, MassachusettsThe Banks Fish House in Boston, Massachusetts — Photo courtesy of Linda Laban

This posh restaurant in Back Baynamed after the once-fertile fishing region of the great Atlantic Ocean, Georges Bank, is set over two floors, each with fine views of Trinity Church in Copley Square and the magnificent modernist Hancock Building.

This new restaurant also offers a fine selection of North Atlantic seafood, both in classic recipes and in revisited recipes. New England clam chowder, while creamy and rich, is served in a mug rather than a mug. And among several flatbreads, The Chowda reuses clam chowder to create a white pizza loaded with clams and potatoes, topped with oyster crackers.

Jumpin’ Jay’s – Portsmouth, New Hampshire

Jumpin' Jay's in Portsmouth, New HampshireJumpin’ Jay’s in Portsmouth, New Hampshire — Photo courtesy of Linda Laban

Located in the heart of this architecturally appealing town on New Hampshire’s short coast, Jumpin’ Jay’s the kitchen prepares beloved New England seafood classics, but often includes an Italian twist. For example, haddock piccata, linguine with littleneck clams with a hint of red pepper flakes, or a sumptuous seafood fettuccine filled with scallops, mussels and shrimp, topped with pistachio powder.

Diners will see the oyster shuckers busy at work at the raw bar. Shuck-a-buck nights feature regional oysters at a dollar a pop. And, yes, it really makes the place jump, as locals flock there, especially taking advantage of a seat at the elevated central bar to sip oysters and sip local beer.

Champlin’s – Narragansett, Rhode Island

Champlin’s in Narragansett, Rhode Island — Photo courtesy of Faye Pantazopoulos

When it comes to boat-to-table seafood, this quaint seaside town’s longtime favorite restaurant is located at the entrance to Galilee Harbor, home to Rhode Island’s largest fishing fleet. This is where it all happens. Dine on the casual restaurant’s terrace or indoors, overlooking the water, and watch local fishermen unload their daily catch.

At Champlin’s the menu really pays tribute to the riches of the sea: lobster, oyster and clam rolls; fish and chips made from dry breaded plaice; and the New England seafood feast known as clam bake, featuring clams, lobster, corn, and potatoes.

Nubb’s Lobster Shack – Cape Neddick, Maine

Nubb's Lobster Shack in Cape Neddick, MaineNubb’s Lobster Shack in Cape Neddick, Maine — Photo courtesy of Cliff House Maine

Tucked away inside Cliff House Maine, an oceanfront resort on the south coast of Vacationland, you’ll find the famous lobster in all its familiar and newer culinary forms: whole, in rolls, but also in totchos of idiosyncratic lobster, a couple of lobster meat and tater tots in a nachos style dish.

The Nubb’s the menu also features clam chowder, crab cakes, whole clams, fried Maine oysters, and fish and chips. Order at the window, a real lobster shack, and eat inside or outside, with a view of the cliff and the ocean.

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