Shell Yeah: Best Seafood Spots in Boston
Reel in the freshest oysters, lobsters and more at these top restaurants.
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Oysters and Lobsters and Clams, Oh My!
Boston is a city awash in seafood. Fleets of boats trawl for fresh catches right off its shores, while local restaurants lure diners with the promise of lobsters, cod, chowder and oysters. Even places that don’t specialize in seafood often offer these regional specialties on the menu. With such a flood of choices, navigating your way to the best places to slurp down oysters, enjoy a cod cake or crack open a lobster can seem overwhelming. Here are some of Boston’s top spots to reel in the freshest flavors.
Eventide Fenway may lack the quaint charm of a New England lobster shack, but don’t let that scare you away from some of the best seafood in Boston. Sure, the glass-and-metal exterior may seem rather stark, and once inside there’s no sitting down at a private table. Instead, you have to order from a counter, wait to be texted when your food is ready, then snag a stool at a communal table. But the food is definitely worth it. The clam chowder, hamachi crudo and brown-butter lobster rolls have hooked many a local at this fast-casual outpost of Maine’s wildly popular Eventide Oyster Co. Oh, and there’s even a sweet reimagining of those signature brown-butter lobster rolls. It’s a brown butter soft serve topped with bourbon caramel and maple pecans, so be sure to save some room for dessert.
Select Oyster Bar
Chef/Owner Michael Serpa goes beyond New England tradition at his Back Bay spot with a seafood lineup that seems more inspired by the Mediterranean coastline than a Massachusetts clam shack. Instead of clam chowder served against a nautical-themed backdrop, you’ll find raw seafood dishes surrounded by chic, minimalist decor at Select Oyster Bar. Standout options include dayboat scallop ceviche with lime, shallot and cilantro; Yellowfin tuna tartare with California sturgeon caviar; and Hamachi crudo with orange, Marcona almonds and radishes. If raw isn’t your thing, dishes like the large Maine lobster salad, whole roasted sea bream and Icelandic Arctic char are perfectly cooked to order.
B & G Oysters
A staple of the South End dining scene, B & G Oysters remains as popular today as when Chef-Owner Barbara Lynch opened the doors in 2003. She switches up the fresh oyster options daily, but they’re always served icy cold with a Prosecco mignonette on the side. Rounding out the raw bar are bright ceviches, crudos and crab legs. Lynch offers selections for virtually every seafood-loving appetite, with crowd-pleasing classics like fried oysters, clam chowder, lobster rolls and a crisp whole branzino sharing space on the menu with seasonal plates that showcase fresh ingredients. Balance out the savory feast with a sweet finish — the olive oil poppy cake is outstanding.
Executive Chef Matthew Jackson’s devotion to detail shines through in the Italian-accented dishes served at Aqua Pazza, a seafood eatery from the DePasquale Ventures family of restaurants. Jackson has a deft way of making the seafood the star of each dish, without a lot of sauces or distractions on the plate to detract from its essence. You’ll find salmon crudo, seafood risotto and daily whole fish (served either grilled and stuffed or salt-baked) among the array of impeccably prepared plates.
Island Creek Oyster Bar
As the namesake restaurant of the Island Creek Oysters farm in Duxbury, Massachusetts, this Kenmore Square spot devotes much of its raw bar to its excellent bivalves, though there’s certainly no shortage of other stellar seafood options. On any given day, diners can count on at least 10 types of oysters from Massachusetts alone, and also find selections from Rhode Island, California, Washington and Canada. Slurp them straight from the shell or enjoy them as the star ingredient in dishes like the slider featuring a crisp fried oyster nestled on an aioli-slicked brioche bun. Looking beyond oysters, the crudos, ceviches and tartares are creatively and beautifully prepared. Fresh fish changes daily, but examples include crisp whole black bass, New Bedford scallops and monkfish schnitzel.
Go to: Island Creek Oyster Bar
This lively spot is the perfect place to down a plate of oysters and a craft beer, then work your way through a well-curated menu of seafood dishes. As the more-casual sister restaurant of Island Creek Oyster Bar, it’s no wonder that Row 34 knows how to do seafood right. The oysters come in various iterations, including fried and stuffed into lettuce cups along with pickled vegetables. And the selection of seafood doesn’t stop there. Get a taste of New England classics like a steaming bowl of clam chowder or lobster rolls slicked with butter or mayo. Other must-try options include the cider-steamed mussels, a daily whole fresh fish prepared in a myriad of ways, and fish and chips.
Not every Boston seafood spot focuses solely on the fresh catch. Take Saltie Girl, for instance. This restaurant does have an excellent raw bar, but its real hook is tinned seafood. Anchovies, sardines, octopus, eel, mussels, oysters, cod liver, squid, cockles, scallops, razor clams, mackerel, trout, tuna and even caviar (sustainably harvested) are all available. The menu of 60-plus tinned fish come from all over the world. Saltie Girl’s staff is well-versed in the attributes of each one, so don’t be shy about speaking up if you have a question. Other standouts include a variety of toasts, such as smoked salmon, snow crab and tinned sardines, as well as larger plates like fried lobster and waffles.