In the land of beach bars and clam shacks, C Salt is a breath of fresh (salt) air. This tiny house looks more like a ski chalet than an oyster bar, but the locals who pack the dining room don't let that distract them. From an open kitchen, chef Jonathan Philips turns out root-beer-braised short ribs and a spicy tuna tartar tostada with avocado-cilantro aioli worth bottling. The clincher: the coldest, stiffest martini we've ever enjoyed. 75 Davis Straits, Falmouth, MA 02540, csaltfalmouth.com.
Decide to update from your Timex Indigo or last year's candy-colored Swatch? Alpha Omega has watches for people who have arrived (on time, of course). No need to settle for cliché—even Rolex offers a modern classic, the Cellini line, as well as the venerable Oyster. Each maker seems to display a singular character along with the hour: genteel Baume & Mercier, brazen Bulgari, obsessive Tissot, and precious Ulysse Nardin. 57 JFK St., Cambridge, MA .
Unless your mother has the culinary savoir-faire of Todd English, you likely did not grow up on "chowdah" that tasted anything like what you'll find at KingFish Hall. Hence, the house's smartly dubbed "Not the Clam Chowder Your Mother Made," a perfect blend of cream, clams, and potatoes, served with homemade oyster crackers. Should you get bored with the original concoction, there's always the lobster and corn chowder, or the mouthwatering gumbo and bisque. 188 South Market Building, Faneuil Hall Marketplace, Boston, MA .
Faithful followers suggest that perennial Best of Boston winner Oishii serves the best sushi in New England. Rare (and delectably dangerous) options such as blowfish hold court with traditional rolls and sashimi creations. Don't miss the toro tata, Kumamoto oyster sushi, and hamachi torched maki topped with caviar. Note to claustrophobes: The Chestnut Hill location is tiny. 612 Hammond St., Chestnut Hill, MA oishiiboston.com/.
This romantic hideaway is just far enough from Washington Street so you don't feel trapped in the Downtown Crossing mosh pit. Bonus—dollar oysters and clams are offered from 4 to 6 p.m., and 9 to 10 p.m., daily. What to Order: The pan-roasted chicken with risotto; mussels with roasted tomatoes. 10 Bosworth St., Boston, MA marliave.com.
Amid pastel-colored walls (so charming!), fireplaces (so cozy!), and food like Wellfleet oysters on the half shell with yuzu ice (so flirtatious!), what makes this the Hub's most romantic option is the space. Specifically, that there's lots of it. Amorous ambiance is so often ruined by patrons who are positioned a little too close and talking a little too loudly. At UpStairs on the Square, it's private enough to murmur juicy tidbits and sweet nothings with abandon. 91 Winthrop St., Cambridge, MA 2138, upstairsonthesquare.com.
You can concoct your own cocktail at the bloody mary bar, but why bother when these master mixologists can whip up delicacies like the oyster shooter—a tender bivalve nestled in a bloody mary shot? Even the entrées are a twist on the norm: The cornbread-crusted French toast comes with tropical fruit, and the Mexican omelet is loaded with avocado, beans, cheese, and salsa. 1271 Cambridge St., Cambridge, MA eastcoastgrill.net/.
Neither rain, nor heat, nor pandemic will keep a Bostonian from a great lobster roll. Given the zealous following for this fast-casual clam shack moderne’s distinctive iteration—served on a fluffy steamed bao—it only makes sense that it would be a centerpiece of Eventide’s takeout game, a comprehensive program that also includes unshucked oysters and the heavenly fried-fish sandwich. 1321 Boylston St., Boston, MA 02215, eventideoysterco.com.
Italian food means many things to many people. At Riva it means a lusty love of fresh flavors, simple preparations, and family-friendly but still serious—and seriously good—dishes. Gather by the fireplaces over grilled oyster ;spiedini, or dig into gemelli with spicy sausage and broccoli rabe outside on the patio for a taste of Italy that doesn't require a transatlantic plane ride. 116 Front St., Scituate Harbor, MA 2066, rivarestaurant.net.
Sometimes it feels as if romance has all but vanished. Luckily there's L'Espalier, where Frank McClelland's sumptuous cuisine is guaranteed to set hearts aflutter. Settle into a table at one of the bay windows of this charming townhouse, and unwind together as a parade of champagne, oysters (served with a sensuous dab of pink sorbet), and decadent chocolates comes and goes as if by magic through our stomachs. 30 Gloucester St., Boston, MA lespalier.com/.
Gleaming, deep-cup Island Creek oysters. Salty-sweet Wellfleets. Fleshy shrimp and crab so tender, they go down in one gulp. This is the ocean's bounty as originally interpreted by way of French brasseries: an icy onslaught of shellfish that is mostly raw (of course), but occasionally cooked (as with the Jonah crab claws). Everything is so fresh, the sauces and mignonettes ought to be superfluous—and yet they're so damn tasty, you can't leave them alone. 129 South St., Boston, MA 2111, winebar.com.
Can a place that rolls sushi really be considered a clam shack? For the Net Result, we'll bend the rules. The legendary Vineyard Haven fish market deals in only the freshest catch—its suppliers drop off their hauls several times a day—including shrimp, sea and bay scallops, king crab, squid, and scrod. The takeout counter hawks overstuffed lobster rolls and heaping plates of crispy clam bellies, oysters, and assorted other crustaceans and bivalves. And, yes, the sushi's pretty damn good, too. 79 Beach Rd., Vineyard Haven, MA 2568, .
It's safe to say Chris Parsons has a love affair with New England seafood. The menus at his diminutive Winchester restaurant read like a roll call of the Atlantic's tastiest yield: salt-roasted Wellfleet clams with chorizo; fried Island Creek oysters with snap peas and baby basil; Maine lobster with bacon and chanterelles. Add in Parsons's strong commitment to produce from local, sustainable farms, and Catch is, well, an excellent catch. 34 Church St., Winchester, MA 1890, catchrestaurant.com.
Patrick Shea, son of the couple behind Essex icon Shea's Riverside, has New England seafood in his blood. So much so, in fact, that he decided to open his own riverfront restaurant, C. K. Pearl, right next door to his parents' joint. Now in its second year, the younger Shea's spot offers a more modern but no less delicious take on the local haul with live music, $1 oyster nights, and a lobster sandwich that rivals Dad's. 112 Main St., Essex, MA 01929, ckpearl.com.
Ipswich may be best known for its clams, but this recently opened gastropub celebrates other local exportsnamely, rum (the North Shore’s own Privateer and Folly Cove); beer (Ipswich Oatmeal Stout); and salt (we loved the smoked cherrywood version that came sprinkled atop olive oil). The rustic-cozy dining room brings in hordes of neighborhood types, who come for the grilled oysters, the fish and chips, and, of course, the quirky rum-based cocktails every day of the week. One Market St., Ipswich, MA 1938, saltkitchenandrumbar.com.