50 States of Seafood
With nearly 100,000 miles of shoreline, it's no surprise that Americans are into a multitude of diverse seafood specialties. From Maine lobster rolls and Alaska fish and chips to Florida-style coconut shrimp and Idaho sturgeon, here are the 50 United States of seafood.
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Manhattan Beach, California: Fishing with Dynamite
As a kid, Chef-Owner David LeFevre spent his summers fishing on Virginia's Eastern Shore. After going on to travel the world and earn a Michelin star for Water Grill in Los Angeles, he opened his own seafood-centric spot, Fishing with Dynamite, in Manhattan Beach. There, the Iron Chef serves a menu of old- and new-school seafood representing the best of both coasts. The menu ranges from classic New England clam chowder to whole stuffed and fried Thai snapper for two, and also includes one of the best raw bars in the entire state.
Portland, Maine: Eventide Oyster Co.
This tiny gem of a restaurant proves the old adage "Good things come in small packages" by serving some of the finest seafood in seafood-obsessed Portland. Its signature brown-butter lobster roll is an all-time favorite of many chefs, and its oysters are pristine. The clambake is considered one of the best in all of New England: Locals cozy up to Eventide's outdoor picnic tables to pig out on the restaurant's rendition of that summertime beachside staple, which features sweet Bangs Island mussels, plump steamers from nearby Casco Bay, a lobster tail, Maine potatoes, salt pork and egg.
Las Vegas: Once
Two of the most-seafood-obsessed countries on the planet are Peru and Japan. When large numbers of Japanese immigrants settled in the South American country and essentially created a new kind of fusion cuisine, called Nikkei, they incorporated a lot of oceanic flavors. That's the focus at famed chef Ricardo Zarate's new restaurant, Once, located in the desert of Las Vegas. Inside the Venetian, he serves upscale Peruvian Nikkei fare like bigeye tuna sashimi with black truffles, Peruvian fried rice with lobster and snow crab, and an aromatic seafood stew with grilled striped bass in a tomato sauce with spicy rocoto-pepper aioli.
New York: Le Bernardin
Considered the top place for seafood in the entire United States — heck, arguably the Western Hemisphere and maybe even the world — Eric Ripert's Le Bernardin is considered a once-in-a-lifetime experience for dining aficionados. Its visually stunning tasting menus, featuring intricate dishes like crispy black bass and the Greek salad-inspired Kampachi sashimi with crushed nicoise olives (pictured above) start at more than $150 per person for dinner. For those who don't have that kind of cash to throw down, the restaurant offers more affordable lunch tastings and excellent a la carte dishes in the lounge.
Philadelphia: Oyster House
For 42 years, this Philadelphia oyster house has been the city's top pick for upscale seafood. Third-generation owner Sam Mink overhauled the restaurant in 2009, modernizing the place while continuing his family's tradition. It serves new takes on old-school dishes like snapper soup and Southern-fried oysters with chicken salad, a dish that was popular in the private clubs of 19th-century Philly, as well as other regional classics, such as a chilled New England-style lobster roll and the $35-per-person clambake known as a Dump Dinner. But the crown jewel of the Oyster House is the raw bar that sits in the middle of the restaurant: It boasts the city's largest selection of oysters, harvested from East Coast waters stretching from the nearby mid-Atlantic all the way up to Canada.
Arizona: Mariscos Chihuahua
While landlocked Arizona may not have fresh-caught salmon, oysters or shrimp like coastal states, it still has some excellent seafood. Here, it's all about the bright flavors and subtle spice of Mexican-style seafood. The best place in the state to get a taste is Mariscos Chihuahua in Tucson, Nogales and Phoenix. The restaurants feature wild sea-themed murals, a giant fiberglass fish floating from the ceiling and a pleasantly extensive selection of hot sauces to go along with refreshing dishes like ceviche tostadas. The crispy deep-fried tortillas are topped with heaping piles of briny shrimp marinated in lime juice and accompanied by onions, cilantro, tomatoes and avocado.
St. Louis: Broadway Oyster Bar
Locally owned and operated for more than 40 years, Broadway Oyster Bar is one of the top New Orleans-style restaurants, bars and live music venues in the Midwest. (Hey, it would make sense that St. Louis leads the Cajun pack, given its historical French connection with the Big Easy.) This laid-back hangout is adored by locals for flavorful Creole-style seafood like po' boys, crawfish etouffee and BBQ shrimp. While some dishes stick to tradition, this creative place also does its own thing with fun cross-cultural dishes like crawfish enchiladas. There's also a roasted oyster medley that lets diners sample oysters with three different cream sauces: crawfish, spicy shrimp, and spinach and bacon.
Kailua-Kona, Hawaii: Da Poke Shack
Poke may be found at hundreds of fast-casual joints spread across the mainland these days, but it originated in Hawaii, still the best spot on the planet to get a taste. This appropriately titled shack offers the freshest example of poke in the state. Fishermen will often walk up with the day's catch while customers wait in line for The Wet Hawaiian, fresh cubes of fish with a simple inamona (kukui nut) mix. In addition to its selection of poke plates, Da Poke Shack also offers cut-to-order sashimi to eat on-site and uncooked fillets to take home and enjoy later.
Whitefish, Montana: Stillwater Fish House
Montana is red-meat country — in fact, the 2.5 million heads of cattle in this state outnumber humans by nearly three to one. You wouldn't know that if you visited this Whitefish restaurant, located in mind-bogglingly beautiful Flathead Valley on the doorstep to Glacier National Park. It serves sustainable, never-frozen fish sourced from near and far. "When we moved here, we knew we couldn't eat the scenery, and so we wanted to bring all of our favorite seafood cuisines from a plethora of coastal areas," says Stillwater co-owner Adrienne Felder. The seasonally changing menu offers diverse dishes, such as the local trout pan-fried with a pretzel crust and the black cod marinated in a miso-and-sake reduction.
Houston: Cajun Kitchen
Set right near Galveston Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, just a short drive from the Louisiana border, Houston is home to the country's best Viet-Cajun cuisine. Vietnamese chefs and restaurateurs who came to the area tinkered with the local techniques for cooking crawfish, tossing the Cajun spice-coated crustaceans in buttery sauces filled with aromatics like garlic, onions, peppers and lemongrass and serving them with a salt, pepper and lime dipping sauce. That's what you'll find at Cajun Kitchen. The place serves customizable spicy Cajun boils with varying spice levels, flavors and seafood options that go beyond mudbugs. Explore the menu with an order of crawfish cooked however you like and an XL Fatass Combo: a pound of king crab legs, a half-dozen oysters Thailand (served raw with fried shallots and a sweet and spicy Thai-style sauce) and salt-and-pepper Dungeness crab.
Miami Beach, Florida: Stiltsville Fish Bar
Celeb-chef power couple Jeff McInnis and Janine Booth, owners of several Root & Bone locations and Sarsaparilla Club, have brought the old-school Florida seafood shack back to the glitzy waterfront of Miami Beach. Drawing inspiration from McInnis' childhood on the Florida panhandle and from the city where they both rose to fame, this Sunset Harbor restaurant serves straight-off-the-boat seafood in simple preparations ranging from smoked-fish dip and beer-battered soft-shell crabs to whole fish for two. The crispy coconut shrimp, wrapped in roasted coconut and kataifi and then fried in coconut oil, is the best example of this dish in the state, and probably the world.
Madison, Connecticut: The Clam Castle
You know it's good if Jacques Pépin sings its praises. That's right, the godfather of celebrity chefs is a fan of this Madison seafood joint. For more than 50 years, The Clam Castle has been doling out traditional New England seafood-shack eats like fried whole clam bellies and chowders. Five years ago, brothers Patrick, Chris and Dave Donahue and Dave's wife Sloane took over and breathed new life into the indoor-outdoor restaurant that's conveniently located next to Hammonasset Beach. The BYOB place has been reinvigorated with made-to-order dishes including renowned fish tacos, excellent lobster rolls and a slew of freshly prepared daily specials.
Leawood, Kansas: Bristol Seafood Grill
With four Kansas and Missouri locations, Bristol Seafood Grill is the place to go for the freshest premium seafood in the area. The chic Town Center Plaza location in Leawood boasts rich wood accents, a brick fireplace and a stained-glass dome that set the mood for upscale preparations like Maryland-style jumbo lump crab cakes, Georges Bank scallops and fresh fish grilled over mesquite wood and served with just Maldon sea salt, fresh lemon and a touch of herb butter. Daily selections may range from Hawaiian wahoo and seared Alaskan halibut to Mississippi fried catfish and Idaho rainbow trout.
Hagerman, Idaho: Snake River Grill
Snake River Grill may be categorized as a steakhouse or grill, but 60 percent of its sales stem from seafood. The Hagerman Valley in which it is located is home to hundreds of geothermal hot springs and numerous aquaculture operations, so the inland region boasts extremely fresh fish, like trout and sturgeon, raised on nearby farms. Because of his penchant for — and skill in cooking — local fish, Snake River chef Kirt Martin has been dubbed the Sturgeon General. He goes through 135,000 pounds of the firm-fleshed fish per year, serving it in various preparations such as deep-fried in nuggets with tartar sauce, stuffed with shrimp and coated with roasted red pepper cream sauce or as the "surf" served alongside an aged sirloin steak.
Seabrook, New Hampshire: Brown's Lobster Pound
New Hampshire's coastline might be short, but its seafood shacks are statuesque. And Brown's Lobster Pound cannot be missed. Since 1950, the family-owned place has been serving fried clams, four kinds of chowder and countless orders of pristine seafood. Live lobsters pulled from a tank, dunked into a steaming iron cauldron of salted water and served with a cup of drawn butter on the side remain the most-popular order, but those in the know add steamers and fries to their orders. On any given day, you'll see the evidence: The rows of picnic tables inside and on the waterfront deck are filled with piles of lobster and steamer shells and remnants of drawn butter, and seated at them are guests who look like they've never been more satisfied in their lives. Make sure to bring your own beer and wine, and plenty of cash; this casual place still doesn't take plastic.
Lilliwaup, Washington: Hama Hama Oyster Saloon
Opened in 2014 to give oyster lovers a place to eat Hama Hama's impeccable product, this saloon pays homage to the history of the laid-back, rustic oyster eateries common in the early 20th century. Rustic it most certainly is. The restaurant is completely outdoors — a bold move, considering it's located in a Pacific Northwest rainforest right near Olympic National Park — overlooking the oyster beds as well as the seals and eagles that hang out in the estuary. It's open year-round, so the folks here build bonfires and serve hot smoked-salmon chowder in the winter months and cover the deck with shade sails when the weather warms up. It may be exposed, but you can't find a better place to cozy up with a beer and a dozen oysters, some clams and killer crab cakes after a hike.
Whittier, Alaska: Varly's Swiftwater Seafood Cafe
There's no dearth of fresh seafood along Alaska's coasts, but Varly's Swiftwater Seafood Cafe in Whittier is considered one of the best spots to find it. This place serves only fresh fish harvested locally from Prince William Sound; that's why you won't find any lobster, crab or scallops on the menu here. The kitchen uses a secret-recipe batter for its hand-dipped fillets, which turn out perfectly golden and immaculately crisp, and become the star ingredient in Varly's world-class fried fish sandwich and its fish and chips. And with prime views of the harbor, you might even spot the fisherman who caught the halibut, Pacific cod or shrimp that's sitting on your plate.
Salt Lake City: Current Fish & Oyster
Given its distance from the ocean, it makes sense that Utah lacks its own deep-rooted style of seafood. That hasn't stopped Chef Alan Brines at Current Fish & Oyster from digging deep into the coastal culinary traditions that span the Pacific and Atlantic seaboards. The downtown Salt Lake City restaurant features freshly jetted-in, sustainable seafood in its creative spins on classic dishes, such as bacon-infused New England-style clam chowder, crab cakes accented with bright lemon aioli, and lemongrass- and coconut milk-based fish stew. The modern seafood is enough of a draw, but the expansive restaurant also boasts one of the coolest atmospheres in the city, with an open kitchen and a ceiling that mimics the hull of a ship.
Topping, Virginia: Merroir
Rappahannock Oyster Company has been spreading like wildfire across the U.S., opening locations in Washington, D.C.; Charleston, South Carolina; and as far away as downtown L.A. Each new locale makes it way onto the lists of hottest new restaurants in its city. It all started at Merroir, on the banks of the Rappahannock River overlooking the farm. The tasting room offers a small menu of raw and cooked seafood paired with great wines. There's a selection of shellfish, crab cakes and other small plates. The namesake oysters are served raw, roasted with garlic butter, "on horseback" with herb butter and Edwards ham, and barbecued as an "ode to Hog Island" in California.
Des Moines: Splash Seafood Oyster Bar & Grill
Serving seafood jetted in daily from seaports like Boston, Seattle, Key Largo and Honolulu, Splash Seafood Oyster Bar & Grill has been Des Moines' top destination for fresh catch for two decades. Owner Bruce Gerleman has long traveled to the Florida Keys for fishing trips, and he fell in love with varied styles and flavors of seafood on his journeys through the southern tip of the Sunshine State. That devotion is evident in tropical-inspired dishes like sesame tuna, blackened swordfish and sake-grilled colossal shrimp with sweet potato and black bean mango salsa.
Chicago: Calumet Fisheries
Second-generation owner Mark Kotlick carries on the work of his dad and uncle by slow-cooking the luscious, ruby-hued, black pepper-scented Alaskan salmon that helped this icon win a James Beard Award. The famed eatery has fed celebrities ranging from John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd (a Blues Brothers scene was filmed right out front) to Anthony Bourdain. Calumet Fisheries, which opened in 1928 and was purchased by the Kotlick family in 1948, is one of the last businesses in the city of Chicago that are allowed to use wood to smoke their products. Their trout, whitefish and eel, plus a wide selection of other seafood delicacies, come out of blackened smokehouses charred by almost a century's worth of fire.
Arkansas: Eat My Catfish
Though neighboring Mississippi is considered the "Catfish Capital of the World," Arkansas loves its catfish. In fact, it would almost be a fun accomplishment to find a place that doesn't serve it on a Friday — if it weren't so darn delicious. Eat My Catfish serves its namesake item every day of the week. Multiple times per week, its four locations get fresh, farm-raised catfish delivered straight to its doors. Small, well-seasoned fillets are fried in a cornmeal batter until perfectly crisp, then served with the restaurant's signature tartar sauce on the side. Although that omnipresent Arkansas fish is the star of the show, everything on the seafood-focused menu, from the fried or boiled shrimp to the crabs and crawfish, is seriously delicious.
Avon, Colorado: Hooked Beaver Creek
With no sea in sight, one would think it would be hard to find fresh seafood on the peaks of the Rocky Mountains. It is — unless you go to Hooked Beaver Creek. This fish-centric restaurant gets fresh catch flown into Denver and driven over Vail Pass nearly every day. It serves composed dishes like cioppino, spicy tuna tacos and pan-fried salmon coated with macadamia crust and a vanilla beurre blanc. The real specialty, though, is the whole fish. The in-house fishmonger carts over a tray of the day's catch, walking guests through the flavor profile, texture and size of each species, so they can choose one for dinner. The chefs then slice it up, serving the evening's pick in a tasting of different cold and hot preparations.
South Kingstown, Rhode Island: Matunuck Oyster Bar
You know it's going to be fresh with a slogan like "Farm to table and pond to plate." That's the ethos of Matunuck Oyster Bar in South Kingstown — and the proof is in the videos on its website and in the on-site pond (where Matunuck oysters are grown). The place takes advantage of the rich waters and farmland of the Ocean State to serve up regional classics like chowders, stuffed lobsters and steamers. The sleeper hit is the clams casino, a prime example of a ubiquitous Rhode Island dish: a sherry-infused mix of bacon, breadcrumbs and house-grown peppers stuffed inside clams that are almost as fresh as they'd be if you had just dug 'em up yourself.
Mackinaw City, Michigan: Keyhole Bar & Grill
Mackinaw City is one of the top tourist destinations in the U.S. If you come to town and ask locals where to dine, chances are they'll suggest Keyhole Bar & Grill, one of the few eateries in town that stay open through the winter months. The nearly 50-year-old favorite specializes in freshwater fish from Northern Michigan. Its broiled whitefish is a top seller, available blackened for those who want a bit of spice. Parmesan-crusted walleye, rolled in cheese and seasoning and then seared, is both tender and crisp. Many guests choose to add golden-brown Great Lakes perch to their entrees for an extra charge. That well-prepared local fare has earned the laid-back restaurant countless accolades from local and national press.
Duluth, Minnesota: Northern Waters Smokehaus
This unique specialty market and cafe digs deep into the world of smoking and curing. Local and sustainable meat is used for its smoked lamb, housemade salumi and bison pastrami. But because it's set right on Lake Superior, the real specialty here is fish. The smoked lake trout and whitefish garner rave reviews from seafood-adoring locals, and Northern Waters goes through thousands of pounds of Atlantic salmon per year. That wood-kissed crimson fish is the basis of the most-popular item on the menu, the Cajun Finn, in which Cajun-seasoned smoked salmon is combined with scallion cream cheese, sliced roasted red peppers, sliced pepperoncini and mixed greens on a freshly baked stirato roll.
Charleston, South Carolina: The Ordinary
James Beard Award-winning chef Mike Lata's Southern seafood hall and oyster bar, The Ordinary, has a lot going for it. First off, it's housed in a bright and airy converted 1920s bank building (the kitchen is behind the doors to the vault). The seafood is some of the freshest in Charleston, and Lata strives to support local and regional fishermen. Their just-caught seafood is highlighted in the head-turning shellfish tower, blue-crab toast and crispy oyster sliders sandwiched between sweet Hawaiian rolls. It all adds up to make this buzzy spot — which does get kind of loud — one of the hottest restaurants and bars in this scorching-hot restaurant town.
Manahawkin, New Jersey: The Old Causeway Steak & Oyster House
The Jersey Shore may get a bad rap from its eponymous reality show, but those in the know adore the Garden State coast for its gentle dunes and delicious locally sourced seafood. Just over the bridge from Long Beach Island, The Old Causeway Steak & Oyster House is one of the best places to dig in. It serves a fantastic selection of Barnegat Light scallops, clams straight out of the bay and a selection of high-quality oysters from the East and West coasts. Those bivalves are served in a variety of preparations, starting with raw and moving on to fried and fire-roasted with shallot herb butter. And just this year, the folks behind the popular restaurant launched the first harvest of their own signature oyster.
Tybee Island, Georgia: The Crab Shack
Set underneath a thick canopy of Spanish moss-covered live oaks overlooking the marsh of Chimney Creek, this former fish camp feels like a mix of tiki bar and pirate's den. In fact, Tybee Island was a favorite hideout for buccaneers during the golden age of piracy. Slightly more subdued but no less exciting (for the taste buds, at least), The Crab Shack is known for its low-country fish boils and for the Captain Crab Sampler, a huge platter of snow, Jonah or rock crab with shrimp, mussels, crawfish, corn, potatoes and sausage, all boiled in the traditional low-country style with a secret seasoning blend. Don't worry: No one will judge if you pretend the claws are pirate swords at the end.
Indianapolis: Caplinger's Fresh Catch
This family-run seafood market is hailed as the best place to buy fish in all of Indiana. Father-and-son duo Nick and Andrew Caplinger and Andrew's wife, Courtney, receive a rotating stock of sea creatures, such as clams, tuna steaks and colossal king crabs, delivered daily. All of that fresh catch is featured on the menu at the on-site cafe in dishes like the blue crab melt, the lobster roll and the smoked tuna salad sandwich (pictured above) made with sushi-grade yellowfin tuna that's smoked in-house for four to six hours, mixed with mayonnaise and served inside Caplinger's special-recipe bun.
New Orleans: Bevi Seafood Co.
Honoring the tradition of following New Orleans' seasons, Bevi Seafood Co. is a classic neighborhood seafood joint that serves a rotating cast of crawfish, crab, shrimp and oysters with a chef-y twist. Owner Justin LeBlanc has spent time in the kitchens of such esteemed local restaurants as Chateaubriand, Peristyle and the Southern Yacht Club, and developed relationships with top-notch suppliers. Carefully sourced ingredients are the reason why his two laid-back restaurant-markets have been hailed by local critics for their excellent boiled seafood, po' boys and platters with items like soft-shell crab and other delicacies from the Gulf.
Albuquerque, New Mexico: Mariscos Altamar
New Mexico's fiery, chile-infused fare is some of the most flavorful in the United States. Unlike oceanic states, the Land of Enchantment doesn't have its own style of seafood; however, what it lacks in indigenous marine creatures, it makes up for in regional Mexican cuisine hailing from up and down our neighbor's coastline. With two Albuquerque-area locations, Mariscos Altamar is a top pick for Latin-influenced seafood like crab enchiladas, shrimp cocktail and Altamar soup filled to the brim with fish, shrimp, octopus and real crab legs in a tomato-based broth.
Baltimore: Costas Inn
There is no food more synonymous with Maryland than blue crab, the Chesapeake Bay crustacean that makes you work for a taste of its sweet white meat. Annual catches have been on the decline in recent decades, but conservation efforts are helping to bring this state treasure back in force. Try 'em in all their glory at Costas Inn just outside Baltimore. This longtime fixture is hailed for its steamed crabs that are dumped atop newspaper-covered tables, as well as for its pan-fried soft-shell crab and its jumbo lump crab cakes made with a spice-filled sauce and just enough breadcrumbs to hold it together in patty form.
Boston: Yankee Lobster Company
Yankee Lobster Company is hailed for its extra-fresh lobster pulled from tanks that get water pumped straight in from the ocean. The lobster roll is a favorite, and Guy Fieri praised the lobster mac 'n' cheese as "ridiculous." But the sleeper hit at this classic New England seafood spot is the fried fare. The Fisherman's Platter, with fish, shrimp, scallops and whole clam bellies, is the stuff dreams are made of, with the rare combination of perfect crunch and extremely fresh seafood steaming inside the golden-brown crust.
Taylor, Mississippi: Taylor Grocery
You've probably already heard that Mississippi is the catfish capital of the world. The mild, clean-tasting farm-raised fish has been an integral component of the state's economy since the 1960s, when locals pioneered the industry. But long before Mississippians began raising fish on former cotton farms, old-school catfish houses dotted throughout the state were serving hefty platters of whole fish and fillets fried in cornmeal jackets or grilled with Cajun spices. Experience that traditional style at Taylor Grocery. People come from all around to trek up the dirt road that leads to the Taylor shack for excellent fried catfish and hushpuppies.
Omaha: El Dorado
Given that just 11 percent of Nebraska's population is Hispanic (according to U.S. Census data), the state has a surprisingly rich array of Mexican restaurants. What's even more astonishing for this landlocked state is that many of those places specialize in flavorful seafood. El Dorado in Omaha is known for its mariachi bands, bold al pastor tacos and a giant tower of seafood for a crowd (or, at least, a minimum of two) at a price that is hard to beat. Those platters are chock-full of different styles of shrimp, sometimes layered with crab legs, oysters, clams, octopus and even abalone. Others are piled high with lobster. Eating here is like visiting the shores of Baja without leaving the Cornhusker State.
Mobile, Alabama: Wintzell's Oyster House
This 1938 oyster house has become an iconic landmark in 300-plus-year-old Mobile. It started as a six-stool oyster bar and has expanded significantly in size and presence since, with a total of 10 locations throughout the state. Best known for its oysters served "fried, stewed or nude," Wintzell's now sells 182,000 pounds of fresh oysters per year, as well as 93,000 pounds of shrimp and 21,000 gallons of gumbo. But one of the most-distinctive dishes on the menu is the West Indies Salad, a cold crabmeat dish that originated in Mobile. It combines jumbo lump crab with chopped onion and spices, blended together with oil and vinegar and marinated for at least 24 hours.
Burgaw, North Carolina: Holland's Shelter Creek Restaurant
Long before the term "pop-up" was used to describe short-term shops and restaurants, fish camps would "pop up" along river shores where fishermen pulled up to sell their catch. While there is no dearth of delicious seafood for sale up and down North Carolina's Outer Banks and beyond, catfish is by far the most-ubiquitous fish in the state. Holland's Shelter Creek Restaurant, a permanent fish camp since the 1980s, serves some of the best fried catfish, shrimp platters and frog's legs in the state while maintaining its laid-back old-school vibe. Eating here is like traveling back through a delicious time warp, just a 30-minute drive from the beach.
Fargo, North Dakota: Deep Blue Seafood
Deep Blue Seafood started as a truck selling flown-in fish on the side of the road, transitioned into a statewide wholesale operation and, in 2016, became a brick-and-mortar market and restaurant. Husband-and-wife team John and Bea Mittleider get fresh seafood delivered via plane every other day for dishes like surf-and-turf salad with generous portions of steak and shrimp, as well as authentic British fish and chips styled after the impeccable versions found in Bea's native United Kingdom. This is the only serious seafood restaurant in Fargo other than Red Lobster, and in the two short years since it opened, demand has already forced the Mittleiders to expand Deep Blue's seating capacity.
Leipsic, Delaware: Sambo's Tavern
Its namesake river and bay make Delaware heaven for crustacean lovers. At backyard parties and waterfront crab houses across the state, you'll see locals of all ages, from ringleted toddlers to gray-haired octogenarians, picking sweet meat from Old Bay Seasoning-scented shells. For a classic First State experience, head to Sambo's Tavern in Leipsic. The rustic 21-plus pub offers local crab in all its various forms, from crab bisque and juicy crab cakes to fried soft-shell crab and classic whole crab covered in salty seasoning. Get a seat near one of the windows to enjoy idyllic views of the Leipsic River.
Kelleys Island, Ohio: The Village Pump
Taking advantage of Lake Erie's bounty of fish — more are caught in its waters than in all the other Great Lakes combined — this Kelleys Island watering hole serves around 3,000 diners on prime summer weekends. The circa 1969 dockside restaurant consistently ranks as one of the best seafood spots on the giant lake. Most Village Pump guests go for a "famous" Brandy Alexander, rich bowls of lobster chowder and freshly caught fried lake perch served in sandwiches, tacos and dinner baskets with heaping piles of fries and coleslaw. If those popular dishes don't fit your fancy, you can choose from plenty of other aquatic dishes, like walleye bites, oysters, clams and shrimp.
Tulsa: White River Fish Market and Restaurant
White River Fish Market and Restaurant began selling fresh fish straight out of nearby Arkansas' White River in downtown Tulsa in 1932. Several years later, the place expanded, adding a small restaurant that served fried fish. When it moved to its current location near the Tulsa airport in the 1960s, the seafood market and restaurant cemented its reputation as the place to get the best seafood in town, cooking fried, broiled and grilled seafood flown in from all over the place. The fried catfish and shrimp entree is a perennial favorite, as is the grilled salmon, but White River now boasts dozens of options, ranging from sea scallops and fresh oysters to halibut, swordfish and mahi mahi. In February 2017, White River opened its second location (in Broken Arrow, just outside Tulsa), and it's already become another big hit.
Newport, Oregon: Local Ocean Seafoods
The frigid waters of the Pacific Northwest are home to some of the best seafood in the United States. The oysters are world-class, the Dungeness crab is excellent, and the variety of clams available could make any bivalve lover drool with envy. It's all available fresh off the boat at Local Ocean Seafoods in Newport, a market and restaurant that gets most of its seafood from the fishing boats that pull into the harbor across the street. The place draws crowds seeking a taste of its roasted garlic and Dungeness crab soup, tomato-based Fishwives Stew and bacon-wrapped tuna mignon, along with all the other delicious items on the menu.
Pierre, South Dakota: Spring Creek Resort and Deep Water Marina
South Dakota's section of the Missouri River is teeming with walleye, the state fish. Anglers travel from far away to reel 'em in, and then bring them to Spring Creek Resort and Deep Water Marina to have their catch prepared in one of four ways: Cajun, butter and herb, lemon-pepper pouch or beer-battered and broasted. The latter option is the crunchiest, most-popular way to get the flaky white fish cooked. But there's no reason to stress if you come back from the water empty-handed, or if you hate fishing but like eating fish — this steakhouse and seafood spot that overlooks Lake Oahe has walleye in the kitchen, ready to go.
Nashville: Henrietta Red
Chef Julia Sullivan's buzzy American restaurant is hailed for its seafood- and vegetable-centric small plates, many of which take a turn through the wood-burning oven. The food is simple, honoring the high-quality ingredients, and whimsical, offering fun riffs on classic seafood dishes rooted in contemporary seasonal cooking. What does that mean? Things like roasted oysters with green curry butter and lightly cured red snapper crudo with seasonally changing accoutrements like radishes, horseradish, tarragon and Cara Cara oranges. And Henrietta Red's raw bar is hard to beat, generally featuring 12 to 16 varieties of oysters from all three coasts and serving them with lemon, classic mignonette, watermelon mignonette and the house cocktail sauce.
Essex Junction, Vermont: Ray's Seafood
Lake Champlain locals have been absorbed with fishing for as long as anyone can remember. Not even the thick winter ice can stop them: It's dotted with small ice-fishing huts when the water freezes over. Family-owned Ray's Seafood has been buying the local bounty of lake fish from anglers since 1951. To this day, the market and restaurant is one of the best places in the state to get yellow perch. Its exemplary fried fillets are airy and crunchy, cooked to the ideal golden-brown hue. But the menu goes well beyond the local catch, with selections ranging from stuffed haddock and broiled scrod to fried clam bellies and oyster stew.
Morgantown, West Virginia: Flying Fish and Co.
West Virginians love fish. This Morgantown deli and market is a top pick for those seeking the freshest seafood from the coasts: The team heads to Baltimore multiple times per week to pick up the catch that fills its gleaming cases, in which guests will often find salmon, tuna, swordfish and grouper. Although many locals pick up seafood to cook at home, the place is a popular pick for lunch, doling out "Fresh fish fast" in well-prepared dishes like the oyster po' boy, crab cake sandwich and blackened fish or shrimp tacos stuffed into chewy tortillas with cilantro, scallions, tomato, spicy mayo and Flying Fish's signature slaw.
Milwaukee: St. Paul Fish Company
"More fish, better fish and cheaper fish" is the motto of this fish case, wholesaler and restaurant set in the Milwaukee Public Market. Founded by Tim Collins in 2005, the place is known for having the widest variety of seafood in the state. It's hailed for its live Maine lobster meals, creamy New England clam chowder and Alaskan king crab dinners, all featuring some of the freshest catch flown in from out of state. But St. Paul is also a top pick for one of Wisconsin's most-popular dining experiences, a Milwaukee fish fry. It's a Dairyland cultural tradition passed down by the state's large Catholic population that is exactly what it sounds like — fish that is fried. The place offers fried local perch and walleye as well as coastal picks like grouper, shrimp and cod.
Afton, Wyoming: Rocky Mountain Seafood
When husband and wife Frank and Helen Magee saw 25-year-old Rocky Mountain Seafood was for sale in Afton, they decided to pack up their lives in Nevada and move home to Wyoming. The couple now own their home state's premier seafood place. Multiple times per week they get orders of fresh fish flown into nearby Salt Lake City and trucked up to their small town, home of the "World's Largest Elkhorn Arch." The restaurant has received rave reviews from seafood lovers from all over the region for its blackened Canadian salmon, Alaskan halibut fish and chips, and Cod Parmesan. While the list of options is short, there's no need to worry if there are "fish haters" in your party: Rocky Mountain offers a special menu just for them, with rib-eye steak and a couple of other non-seafood dishes.
Eddyville, Kentucky: Willow Pond Southern Catfish
Fried catfish is a staple throughout the South. That allegiance holds true in Kentucky, especially in the western part of the state, where those bottom-dwelling creatures are abundant in the many freshwater rivers and lakes. The best restaurant version is found at Willow Pond Southern Catfish in Eddyville. The folks here use a light breading for their catfish fillets, fry them to a crisp brown and serve them accompanied by impeccable sides like hush puppies, vinegar slaw, baked potatoes and white beans. Each table has a container of sweet red pepper relish that most guests use to spice up the beans and whatever else they please.