Don't let the corporate, almost chainlike interior keep you away: This spot's the real deal. Slurp fresh, cold oysters at the rowdy raw bar, or sit down at a table and dip into Turner's expansive menu. The fried platters come out heaping and hot, and the lobster rolls—the true measure of any seafood shack—come stuffed with sweet claw-meat chunks and only the lightest swipe of mayo. 506 Main St., Melrose, MA 2176, turners-seafood.com.
If the location in Menemsha's western cove feels a bit desolate, rest assured: The Bite's bright blue picnic tables will beckon like a desert oasis. You'll quickly find yourself tearing through brown paper bags turned translucent with grease to get at overflowing cartons of oysters, clams, zucchini, and shrimp delicately fried to a flavorful crisp. Grab a cup of the creamy quahog chowder to complete what might be the quintessential summer meal. 29 Basin Rd., Chilmark, MA 2535, thebitemenemsha.com.
Visiting Gargoyles only on date night (yes, the lighting flatters; true, the velvet cascades) is like eating oysters only to boost your mojo. Both should be enjoyed, and often, on their own merits—nooky prospects be damned. Wash away the workday with a silky but strong cocktail (we love the summer-in-a-glass Backyard), and refuel for tomorrow with chef Jason Santos's seasonally inspired fare. And, if you must, flirt at the dish sitting at the next table. Somerville, MA 2144,
Who knew a gas station could be so appealingly reborn as a restaurant? And yet, all of Brookline seems to be angling for a seat at this new bistro. Its classic French dishes teem with fresh, local seafood and sustainably raised ingredients (the mussels escargot and house-made gnocchi are particular coups). Bonus points for the occasional $1 oyster specials and first-rate desserts. 455 Harvard St., Brookline, MA 2446, cognacbistro.com.
Ferreting out a well-made cocktail and inventive cuisine—minus the pretense—can be a tall order anywhere. Find them in a North Shore beach town at 11 p.m., and it's like striking gold. Discriminating night owls flock to the Franklin Cape Ann, northern sibling of the South End's much-loved Franklin Café; for hearty, affordable (read: under $25) dishes like pan-seared cod with oyster mushrooms and ginger, as well as a killer lineup of old-fashioned drinks. 118 Main St., Gloucester, MA 1930, franklincafe.com.
No matter whom we ask, Grand Chau Chow is the first place people mention for authentic Chinese fare. In addition to such adventurous dishes as Fish Head with Ginger and Scallions and Braised Duck Feet with Oyster Sauce, you'll find excellent examples of such old faves as Crispy Sesame Chicken and Beef with Scallions. All this, plus a cool faux waterfall. 45 Beach St., Boston, MA .
Stop at Sun Sun to pick up all those items on your grocery list you just can't seem to find at Super Stop 'n Shop: dried oysters, fish heads (some of which seem to be moving), and live crabs, as well as a great selection of produce, meats, and fish. Worth a trip simply to stock your spice cabinet with authentic Oriental sauces and seasonings. Plus, rice in bulk and many herbal and green teas. 18 Oxford Street, Boston, MA .
The food at Fin is subtle at first, but soon shows its adventurous side. Take the chowder. It's a go-to order at any restaurant on the Cape, but Fin uses oysters instead of clams and adds a drizzle of white-truffle oil. That level of detail and savory depth permeates the offerings here, from the flawless pan-seared scallops to the salted-peanut ice cream. 800 Main St., Dennis, MA fincapecod.com.
This French-inspired restaurant is not what you'd expect to find in a quaint seaside town. The feel is trendy but unpretentious; the space is open and airy; and the wine list rivals those you might see in Boston. The food itself is a wonderfully eclectic mix of country cooking and local seafood, with everything from escargots and oysters to bacon cheeseburgers and house-made squid-ink spaghettini represented on the menu. 2 School St., Marblehead, MA 5cornerskitchen.com.
Why choose among made-to-order omelets, eggs Benedict, and malted Belgian waffles when you can have it all? The superlative Sunday brunch at Water Street, the Harbor View Hotel's on-site restaurant, features a veritable smorgasbord of everyone's favorites: savory carving-station roasts, a raw bar stocked with oysters and fresh seafood salads, and a dessert table showcasing profiteroles that proliferate beyond your wildest fantasies. 131 North Water St., Edgartown, MA 2539, harbor-view.com.
The Winnetu takes the prize this year not only for its comfort, charm, and amenities such as poolside cabanas and front-lawn clambakes, but also for its new programming. The resort’s Over-Sand Beach Day package includes a bottle of prosecco, a picnic lunch, and a permitted Jeep waiting to take you on a romp to one of the island’s outer beaches. Signature oyster tours and kayaking expeditions, meanwhile, round out the summer adventures. 31 Dunes Rd., Edgartown, MA 02539, winnetu.com.
The North Shore isn’t exactly tourist-averse, but upscale hotels are still surprisingly hard to come by—which made the Beauport a particularly welcome addition when it debuted in 2016, rendering the site of a Birds Eye frozen-foods plant unrecognizable. Boasting beachfront access and a roof deck with a pool and fire pit, the hotel is a short walk from Gloucester’s downtown. But why would you want to leave when Wellfleet oysters and local craft beer are moments away at the in-house restaurant? 55 Commercial St., Gloucester, MA 01930, beauporthotel.com.
With its prime waterfront location and cute boutiques (hello, J Mode and Roost and Company), Salem has become so much more than ground zero for the witch-tourism industry. The town's many culinary offerings, including new seafood restaurant Sea Level Oyster Bar and a soon-to-open specialty cheese shop, keep gastronomes satisfied. The Peabody Essex Museum, meanwhile, is a must-visit for culture vultures. MA
For a port city, Boston is surprisingly lean on fantastic waterfront dining. Thankfully, Legal Sea Foods’ Titanic-size flagship offers prime views from lower-level patios and a swinging third-floor rooftop lounge that kisses the space where sky and ocean meet. (A retractable roof and glass walls assist in iffy weather.) Head here to soak up the sun, slurp down oysters, and smell that salty air. 270 Northern Ave. , Boston, MA legalseafoods.com.
It’s hardly a secret that Jody Adams’s Cambridge institution has mastered high-end Italian fare. But the strength of the vast, separate bar menuwith bites like duck-pâté bruschetta and pan-roasted broccoli, and larger plates like rigatoni Bolognesemight be the biggest secret in Harvard Square. Swing by on Mondays between 5:30 and 7 p.m., when oysters are a buck a shuck. One Bennett St., Cambridge, MA 2138, rialto- restaurant.com.