Most Cape restaurants fall into one of two categories: beachy seafood shacks staffed by teenagers, or precious tourist traps with huge markups. The Naked Oyster is neither—just a sleek raw bar and restaurant featuring oysters fresh from chef Florence Lowell’s farm. Enjoy baked bivalves of every variety, inventive fish preparations, and a civilized bar scene fueled by well-made drinks. 410 Main St., Hyannis, MA 02601, nakedoyster.com.
On a recent visit, the Waquoit oysters were fabulous. But don't limit yourself—the Cherrystone clams are also wonderful, as is fresh fish of almost every variety. We've had particularly good luck with the grilled trout of late, and even Legal's fried fish—its longtime staple—seems to have a new lightness. Various locations, .
Imagine rosé cascading down tabletop fountains during a springtime caviar "egg hunt." Silver platters loaded with watermelon at a rooftop pool party. Gin cocktails propelling raw oysters via an ice luge into partygoers’ waiting mouths. Memorable dinners are all about the details, something East Boston Oysters founder Alexis Cervasio knows all too well. The woman behind this secretive supper club—which anyone can snag tickets for by signing up for her email newsletter—isn’t just curating chefs’ dinners and corporate events, though the well-connected hospitality pro does both extremely well. She’s creating experiences worth shelling out for. MA eastbostonoysters.com.
In a historical building steps from the Paul Revere House, Waypoint alum Pierce Boalt Juckett sates North Enders’ seafood cravings with platters of briny Eider Cove and Mookie Blues oysters, immaculate crudos, and—of course—buttery lobster rolls. 5 North Sq., Boston, MA 02113, northsquareoyster.com.
An order of the fried Ipswich clams comprises two heaping piles—one of plump bivalves, and the other of twice-cooked, almost caramelized French fries. Follow our lead and generously dunk both in the house-made, lemon-aioli-based tartar sauce. 550 Tremont St., Boston, MA 02116, bandgoysters.com.
Maybe it's the two dozen varieties of oysters talking, but we've fallen hard for B&G. Barbara Lynch's imaginative takes on the standards—a lobster roll lined with bacon, Portuguese clam stew accented with pork belly—pair seamlessly with an ever changing menu of flounced-up yellowfin, sole, perch, and halibut. Wash it all down with one of 40 wines on offer and you, too, will feel a wave of affection coming on. 550 Tremont Street, Boston, MA 2116, bandgoysters.com.
When summer finally arrives in Boston, every restaurant with a patch of sidewalk scurries to put out a few wrought iron tables and hang its 'al fresco' shingle. Sure, we'll take every ray of sun we can get, but our kudos in this category is reserved for spots with expansive, more thoughtful outdoor spaces. While Oleana's courtyard has long been a standout, there's just something wildly appealing and Secret Garden-like about the sunken back patio at the South End's B&G. Almost primitive in design, with seemingly rogue vines gripping the stone walls, it feels the way a real outdoor eatery should: comfortable and slightly magical, a lovely aesthetic backdrop to the splendor on the plate. 550 Tremont St., Boston, MA 2116, bandgoysters.com.
Oysters on the half shell at the Union Oyster House, 41 Union St., Boston. Straight from the Cape, fresh daily. Stay at the raw bar ($2.95 for six); upstairs they cost more. 41 Union St., Boston, MA .
Unlike the chef-owners who delegate oenophilic duties elsewhere, Michael Serpa has embraced the role of part-time wine professional, curating an astute list that displays the same fastidiousness as his seafood menu. Debating between a sancerre and that stony Sicilian rosé? Just ask the chef: He knows the perfect glass to stand up to the panoply of flavors in his saffron-tinged bouillabaisse. 50 Gloucester St., Boston, MA 02115, selectboston.com.
If hyperfresh seafood is the sole requirement, Legal and McCormick can deliver the same still-quivering quality for a few clams less. It takes a hypertalented chef like B&G's Barbara Lynch, however, to gussy it up with refined flavors and textures that accentuate without stealing the show. That intense focus on pristine ingredients is evident throughout the small, cleanly constructed menu. The cult-spawning lobster BLT is a study in restraint, and a sauteed halibut rings sweet above grassy artichoke, tangy tomato, and briny black-olive consomme. 550 Tremont St., Boston, MA bandgoysters.com.
The homemade rosemary roll and a touch of crème fraîche dress up this classic, while the lobster is as fresh as it gets. 500 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, MA islandcreekoysterbar.com.
Maybe it's the two dozen varieties of oysters talking, but we've fallen hard for B&G. Barbara Lynch's imaginative takes on the standards—a lobster roll lined with bacon, Portuguese clam stew accented with pork belly—pair seamlessly with an ever changing menu of flounced-up yellowfin, sole, perch, and halibut. Wash it all down with one of 40 wines on offer and you, too, will feel a wave of affection coming on. 550 Tremont St., Boston, MA 2116, bandgoysters.com.
Forget the hot butter for a minute. Named for chef Jeremy Sewall’s grandmother, Ethel’s Lobster Roll at ICOB updates the cold Maine style for a new generation. Sewall’s recipe for success? A simple dressing of crème fraîche, chopped dill pickle, and a touch of celery seed, tossed with the sweetest meat and lovingly arranged on brioche with a hint of rosemary. 500 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, MA 02215, islandcreekoysterbar.com.
For Ethel’s Lobster Roll, named for his beloved grandmother, chef Jeremy Sewall sources delicate, ultra-fresh meat from his Maine fisherman cousin, then classes it up with a rosemary-imbued bun, crème fraîche, and the perfectly calibrated blend of celery salt and pickle. Your favorite seafood shack can’t compare. 500 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, MA islandcreekoysterbar.com.
Nineteenth-century urban planning may have transformed an ocean inlet into the Back Bay neighborhood, but about 150 years later, inspired chef Michael Serpa is still filling it with (fabulous) Mediterranean-inspired fish: sea bream, whole-roasted and sauced with parsley, mint, and oregano; swordfish with champagne mango and rose harissa; and salmon crudo augmenting towers of oysters and crab salad. A whip-smart wine list—including a nice pool of reds—pays equal attention to terroir. 50 Gloucester St., Boston, MA selectboston.com.