Come for the vaguely Parisian bordello vibe and warm chocolate cake; stay for the unexpectedly epic raw bar. After sampling a cluster of oysters (from Kumamotos to Malpeques) and cups of salty periwinkles, move on to the beautifully iridescent scallop ceviche and call it a meal. 129 South St., Boston, 617-542-5108, winebar.com.
Patrons may pile into chef Charles Draghi’s enoteca for his much-ballyhooed
wild boar, but along the way they’ll often detour to his seafood dishes: razor clams with fennel; mussels steamed with rosemary and saffron; and mako shark with cherry-tomato salsa. 69 Church St., Boston, 617-426-6969, erbaluce-boston.com.
Even the most ardent carnivores eventually (begrudgingly) admit that this beloved steakhouse is actually a seafood joint at heart. Proof: mahi mahi with Maine shrimp; crab cakes jacked up with a generous dose of coriander; and a glorious tuna tartare spiked with ginger syrup and cilantro sorbet. 161 Berkeley St., Boston, 617-542-2255, grill23.com.
Okay, this one isn’t too surprising, given chef-owner Jeremy Sewall’s history — helming the now-closed Great Bay and, these days, Island Creek Oyster Bar. Even so, a Coolidge Corner bistro with a wood-fired oven hardly seems the place for dishes like seared red snapper with romesco, chorizo, and fried capers, or red wine–braised baby squid. But trust us: It is. 242 Harvard st., Brookline, 617-232-0065, lineagerestaurant.com.
Special-occasion restaurants, which so often offer by-the-numbers fine dining, have no business delving into the waters of funky fish species and even funkier pre-parations … right? Don’t tell that to Barbara Lynch, who unapologetically sends out plates of clean-flavored local skate wing with almonds and capers, and langoustine wrapped in sweet pastry with pumpkinseed oil and pickled rhubarb — all of which serve to enhance the seafood. 354 Congress St., Boston, 617-737-0099, mentonboston.com.
Plumb the depths of (and quiz your server on) the ever-changing menu at this date-night bistro, and you’ll get an earful about precisely which local boat caught each fish. Chef Michael Leviton is an OCD sourcer, a fact that benefits both his halibut with preserved lemon and his diners. 1293 Washington st., Newton, 617-244-9199, lumiererestaurant.com.
Hard-core Chinese-food aficionados adore this place for the shredded duck with pickled veggies, while mere dabblers enjoy the pork lo mein. But true seafood lovers go straight for the fish head with ginger and scallions; the salty prawns; and the jumbo crab. It all comes out hot and fast, and disappears even faster. 4 Tyler St., Boston, 617-482-1116.
T. W. Food
Known mostly for its ultralocal menu, Huron Village’s unassuming little boîte serves fish from—and only from—New England. That results in stunners like grilled bluefish, an under-appreciated regional treasure from which chef Tim Wiechmann coaxes incredible freshness and flavor—and then serves only in midsummer (read: get some now). 377 Walden St., Cambridge, 617-864-4745, twfoodrestaurant.com.