Chefs' Picks: All-Time Favorite Seafood Shacks
Chefs share their picks for the best spots to feast on lobster, clam chowder, oysters and other seafood in the summertime.
Chefs’ Picks tracks down what the pros are eating and cooking from coast to coast.
Seafood and summer go together like shrimp and Old Bay. And the pros know that consuming this seasonal staple in a simple beachside hut, preferably with a salty ocean breeze swirling through, makes the experience all the more enjoyable. From Brooklyn to Malibu, we’ve got the skinny on chefs’ favorite seafood shacks across the country.
While Chef Brendan Cahill of Bar Frances in New Orleans was living in New York, he sought out the flavors of Maine, without the traffic of I-95. His all-time-favorite seafood joint is the original, flagship location of Red Hook Lobster Pound in Brooklyn.
When he resided in the borough, Cahill lived right around the corner from the lobster-centric spot, which made it easy for him to satiate his seafood cravings on the regular. “The Maine Lobster Roll is probably the best I’ve ever had, outside of Maine. …You just can’t go wrong here,” Cahill says. “It’s the real deal!”
Clam Chowder and Pacific Northwest Oysters
Hell’s Kitchen alum Chef Josh Wahler (formerly of Estiatorio Milos, Nobu and NYC’s Spice Market and Gramercy Tavern) doesn’t mind waiting in line — with a glass of bubbly — while watching diners indulge in clams, mussels, oysters and fresh, seasonal fare at Hog Island Oyster Co. at the Ferry Building in San Francisco. He and his wife like to sit at the raw bar, surrounded by Pacific Northwest oysters and other stunning seafood specials on the display.
Wahler’s pro tip? Opt for the clam chowder. “As great as the quality of the raw bar, specials and local seafood, there is not a clam chowder that beats this one,” says Wahler. “It’s about as seductive and sexy as clam chowder can get, with the fantastic clams, smooth herbs, smoky bacon and light cream base.”
When Chef Andrew Pastore of Clifton’s in Los Angeles wants to enjoy a restorative Pacific breeze paired with fantastic platters of lobster, clams and shrimp, he heads up the coast to Neptune’s Net in Malibu, Calif. Even the scenic route adds to the allure of a Neptune’s dining adventure: Pastore explains that he enjoys the spot “for the seafood but also because of the amazing rides on my Harley I had getting there.”
Chef Lisa Giffen (formerly of Maison Premiere and Sauvage) is no stranger to the sea. Her favorite laid-back spot in the States is The Marshall Store off Tomales Bay, California. “They have a great selection of grilled oysters, fresh shucked, and other seafood like Dungeness crab … and the view is breathtaking,” Giffen says.
Interested in going on your own culinary adventures? Check out our city guides and great eats across the country:
Photos courtesy of Red Hook Lobster Pound, Ed-Anderson-Photography, Clifton’s and The Marshall Store