Where to Find the Best Seafood Restaurants Around Boston Right Now
From Mediterranean-inspired hotspots to old-school crab shacks serving New England classics.
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Our restaurant scene is constantly evolving, but this is also a city steeped in tradition. So when we chose the best seafood restaurants in Boston, we cast a wide net. From a quirky little spot serving lobster sandwiches to buzzy destinations for crudo and cocktails, we’ve got you covered.
Alive & Kicking Lobsters
It looks like a fish out of water in its residential Cambridge neighborhood. But that’s part of the cult appeal of this no-frills joint, where the small menu focuses on steamers, chowders, and a fairly famous lobster sandwich—don’t call it a roll!—of luscious, mayo-tossed meat on Italian-style scali bread. Gulp it down on the backyard picnic tables, or take some market-fresh fish selections home.
269 Putnam Ave., Cambridge, 617-876-0451.
Atlantic Fish Co.
A Back Bay anchor since 1978, this old-school surf-and-turf still delivers. It’s a place to power-lunch over a shellfish-stocked Captain’s Platter, or close a deal over a dinner of linguine with clams, crab-crusted haddock, or filet mignon. When it’s time to celebrate, uncork something from a smart wine list that includes selections from the restaurant group’s own proprietary label.
761 Boylston St., Boston, 617-267-4000, atlanticfish.com.
The Barking Crab
You can’t miss that bright red- and yellow-striped big top tent on the waterfront. This Seaport fixture beckons with its boisterous crowds gathered for classic crab-shack eats: platters piled high with crustaceans for dipping in drawn butter, fried-seafood standards—like Ipswich clams or Rhode Island calamari— for scarfing, and plenty of cold beer to wash it all down. The space is strung with lobster traps and strands of lights; it ain’t fancy, but it’s a lot of fun.
88 Sleeper St., Boston, 617-426-2722, barkingcrab.com.
Barbara Lynch, doyenne of Boston dining, is the captain of this seafood restaurant in the heart of the South End. Head to its adorably cloistered rear patio, then dive in to a wide-ranging raw bar selection, Mediterranean-inflected fish preparations, and elegant expressions of New England seafood standards.
550 Tremont St., Boston, 617-423-0550, bandgoysters.com.
The Daily Catch
It’s all about Sicilian-style seafood at this North End-born, family-owned restaurant, a decades-spanning institution that has branched off to locations in Brookline and Vermont. Check the chalkboard menu to find out what’s fresh, from clam and calamari swimming in marinara, to puttanesca with puréed olive and anchovy butter. Take note: The original 20-seat spot is cash-only, but generous portions make it worth every dollar.
323 Hanover St., Boston, 617-523-8567; 65 Atlantic Ave., Boston, 617-772-4400; 441 Harvard St., Brookline, 617-734-2700, thedailycatch.com.
It’s pretty impressive to pull off a restaurant opening in the middle of a pandemic, but that’s exactly what happened when restaurateur Ran Duan (of Brookline’s Blossom Bar and Woburn’s Baldwin Bar) launched Ivory Pearl in 2020. Then again, it helps when you have attention-grabbing offerings like a “tentacle hot dog”—octopus sidled into a split-top bun with sauerkraut, roe, mustard, and sliced green apple—as well as impressively towering raw-bar platters that overflow with uni, oysters, king crab legs, and caviar. Duan is a renowned spirits expert, too, so don’t sleep on the cocktail list, which highlights some wonderful carbonated concoctions inspired by seafood-friendly wines (see: the Champagne Papi, vodka with koji rice, citric acid, and honeydew).
1704 Beacon St., Brookline, 617-487-5297, ivorypearlbar.com.
James Hook + Co.
For decades, this family-owned seafood wholesaler has been serving fish-market fare out of its counter-service shanty by Boston Harbor. The lobster rolls are iconic, of course. But don’t snooze on the creamy, sherry-spiked lobster bisque, jumbo crab cakes, or double-stuffed clams. Here’s where to hook a simple but spectacular bite to take back to the office, or for a weekend walk along the waterfront.
440 Atlantic Ave., Boston, 617-423-5501, jameshooklobster.com.
It’s hard to beat the harbor horizon views from this Titanic-sized offshoot of the Legal Sea Foods chain. The three-floor Seaport operation covers casual fish fare on the ground floor, more refined plates upstairs, and lounge-worthy bites and cocktails on the mast-high roof deck (which has a retractable glass covering, so you can enjoy the scenery whatever the weather). Is it a chain? Yes. Is it a really, really good one, and stuffed to the gills with consistently strong seafood staples, from baked stuffed lobster to an iconic chowder? Absolutely.
270 Northern Ave., Boston, 617-477-2900, legalseafoods.com.
By bringing Top Chef alum Carl Dooley into its kitchen last year, this refined but unstuffy Back Bay seafood-oriented destination earned a spot on our recently unveiled list of Boston’s best restaurants. His prix-fixe seafood menus never fail to surprise and delight, whether they include steelhead trout sashimi with Meyer lemon ponzu and crispy Brussels sprouts, celery root ravioli with sweet Red Royal shrimp and spicy habanero, or anything else meant for pairing with perfect, pristine wines. (Oh, and don’t forget about Cusser’s, the fully-casual operation downstairs, which doles out spectacular lobster rolls and other eats from a takeout window.)
304 Stuart St., Boston, 617-917-5193, mooncusserfishhouse.com.
Brazilian seafood stews are the name of the game (as well as the namesake) here. Cooked in clay pots and loaded with shrimp, mussels, and more, they’re warm, hearty offerings that complement a larger menu of chowder-like shrimp bobó made with yucca cream, seafood pie on a bed of rice, shellfish mariscada—and that’s just scratching the surface. There’s plenty for the landlubbers, too, including a mouthwatering plantain lasagna with a three-cheese sauce.
1008 Cambridge St., Cambridge, 617-354-3296, muquecarestaurant.com.
We think the ocean king himself would endorse this North End favorite. Granted, he could probably skip the lines that form for the famous lobster roll, served covered in hot butter or tossed in cold mayo. But it’s still worth waiting to get inside the relatively snug spot, where daily specials justify return visits: Spend Tuesdays with sea urchin bucatini, or wrap up your workweek with Friday’s squid ink risotto.
63 Salem St., Boston, 617-742-3474, neptuneoyster.com.
A posh Park Square-side offering from the local titans at Columbus Hospitality Group (Mistral, among others), Ostra looks to Mediterranean shores for its fine-dining seafood menu. Solicitous servers usher roasted monkfish with mushroom ragout, traditional Spanish paella, and caviar service to tables draped in crisp white linens. Wonderful wines are poured. There’s the tinkle of tickled ivories from the live pianist in the lounge. It’s elegant; it’s excellent.
1 Charles St. S, Boston, 617-421-1200, ostraboston.com.
One of the newest additions to Boston’s dining scene, the Pearl is a prized local-owned restaurant amid the cookie-cutter chains at South Bay Center. Head past the Applebee’s and Olive Garden to this lovely, lively operation focused on fabulous, relatively straightforward renditions of seafood staples—spicy gumbo and shrimp scampi, for instance—as well as spectacular surprises like spinach-, crab-, and cheese-stuffed salmon with an apple cider glaze. Nifty cocktails complete the package.
20B District Ave., Dorchester, 617-288-8810, thepearlsouthbay.com.
Boston’s venerable chef Jody Adams brings Back Bay her expectedly marvelous musings on contemporary Mediterranean seafood. Think octopus a la plancha with smoked tomato puree; whole roasted branzino that gets a lift from garlic, oregano, and orange; and seared scallops with sunchokes, pomegranate, and warm gooseberry vinaigrette. Adams has been inducted to the James Beard Foundation’s “Who’s Who” list of legends. We can see, and taste, why.
1 Ring Rd., Boston, 617-536-1234, porto-boston.com.
Post-work crowds descend on this industrial-chic space in Fort Point for briny and buttery oysters, snacky stuff like crispy fish tacos, and entrées of fresh catch, including grilled salmon with sunchoke and brown butter. On top of all that, it also has one of the best-curated beer programs of any restaurant in Boston.
383 Congress St., Boston, 617-553-5900, row34.com.
Let it be known that this Back Bay lass was an early local adopter of the tinned seafood trend; Saltie Girl is a wonderful spot to pair, say, a crisp white wine with top-tier cockles canned in brine. But Chef Kyle McClelland does wonderful work too–from toasts topped with smoked salmon, Greek yogurt and truffle honey, to smoked cioppino bucatini overflowing with prawns, mussels, and more. And there’s a quirky favorite to find in the fried lobster with waffles, served with spicy maple syrup. (Seeking something totally new? Check out Pêche by Saltie Girl, its new, intimate offshoot on Dartmouth Street specializing in prix-fixe-only seafood menus.)
279 Dartmouth St., Boston, 617-267-0691, saltiegirl.com.
Select Oyster Bar
Atlántico, his Iberian-leaning addition to the South End, may be newer. But we’d argue that chef Michael Serpa’s first seafood venture, tucked inside a Back Bay townhouse, has a lot to show for its experience: The place is polished but unpretentious, fun yet refined, inviting to neighborhood regulars but absolutely worth an Uber ride from the other side of the city. The Mediterranean-glancing menu features elaborate shellfish tiers, starters like Spanish octopus with chimichurri, and a standout whole sea bream that is roasted and served Greek “taverna-style,” with a sauce of parsley, mint and oregano.
50 Gloucester St., Boston, 857-239-8064, selectboston.com.
We’ve yet to tire of all the ways that legendary chef Jasper White’s Summer Shack restaurants manage to feed us lobster—in mac ‘n cheese, in a pot pie, in a roll (of course), and in White’s signature pan-roasted recipe with bourbon, chervil, and chives. Now, though, Summer Shack also ships its seafood nationally, so you can have a taste of Boston delivered to any friends and family who have moved to different waters.
50 Dalton St., Boston, 617 867-9955; 149 Alewife Brook Pkwy., Cambridge, 617-520-9500; 1 Bennett St., Cambridge, summershackrestaurant.com.
Yankee Lobster Co.
In a fast-changing Seaport, we’re grateful this lobstering family’s takeout-friendly institution stays simple and straightforward. Swing by the counter-service market for lobster rolls, lobster melt sandwiches, lobster mac-n-cheese–oh, and other simple seafood classics, like whole belly stuffed clams and crab cakes. This is the closest we’ll ever come to saying it: We’re Yankee fans.
300 Northern Ave., Boston, 617-345-9799, yankeelobstercompany.com.