Distilling Boston’s seafood scene down to one list is an impossible task — given the city’s location, seafood is a highlight across many menus here, whether or not it is the sole focus of the restaurant. Instead, think of this list as a sampler platter of places to find excellent seafood, from cod-stuffed ravioli to whole salt-crusted fish. (Looking only for lobster rolls? Head here. Just want sushi? Right this way. Only interested in oyster happy hours? We’ve got a list for that, too.)Read More
Essential Boston Seafood Restaurants
Oysters, lobsters, scallops, shrimp, and so much more
From skewered, barbecued mussels to buttermilk-fried hunks of monkfish, Moëca’s is very good at re-examining traditional New England seafood fare through a slightly different lens. The restaurant is run by the same team behind nearby pasta powerhouse Giulia, which means it’d be a mistake to overlook Moëca’s pasta section, including the lobster spaghetti with fermented chili and the salt cod-stuffed ravioli. Whatever you do, don’t skip dessert.
At nearly 20 years old, Neptune Oyster has earned its spot as a Boston-area seafood icon. (The New York Times dubbed it one of the most exciting restaurants in the country in 2022.) Located on Salem Street, the restaurant is most identifiable by the long line of waiting diners snaking out of the doorway during virtually all opening hours. Once inside, the convivial atmosphere and neverending parade of oyster platters, lobster rolls, and fried clams will make that wait time a distant memory.
Saltie Girl has been an essential seafood stop on Newbury Street for nearly a decade. It delivers, whether you’re dipping in for a glass of wine and oysters after work or splurging on a seafood tower during a visit to town. Lobster comes in all sorts of fun dressings here, including lobster frites, lobster and waffles, and a crowd-favorite lobster roll that comes with a bag of Saltie Girl sea salt and vinegar potato chips.
Ostra, the fine dining seafood restaurant that the Boston Globe once dubbed “Boston’s answer to Le Bernardin” is the place to go for well-executed, luxurious treatments of fish, from the whole salt-crusted branzino to the grilled Ecuadorian tiger prawns.
Over its decade in business, Row 34 has converted many diners into regulars who keep coming back for its crispy oysters wrapped in lettuce leaves, griddled crab cakes, lobster rolls, and an oyster list that never disappoints. If your ideal Boston seafood excursion includes slurping oysters and cracking lobsters before taking a stroll by the city’s waterfront, this is your stop.
The award-winning team behind Ivory Pearl is known first and foremost for their cocktail prowess — they are also behind mega-hits Blossom Bar and Baldwin Bar — but the drinks are only part of the show at Ivory Pearl, where dinner unfolds across a playful seafood menu. The legs and eggs (fried smoked chicken drumsticks topped with caviar) are delightful, as are the larger plates like the belly-warming seafood chili and the shrimp and sausage gnocchi.
Opened in 2021, the Pearl has quickly made a name for itself as a dining destination within Dorchester’s shiny South Bay shopping center. For a good overview of the restaurant, start with the shareables side of the menu and order a sampling of Southern-inflected seafood dishes, from the chargrilled oysters to the Cajun chicken and shrimp egg rolls.
Traditional Cape Verdean fare is in the limelight at Restaurante Cesaria, named after the famous Cape Verdean singer Cesaria Evora. The island country’s rich, flavorful seafood preparations are on display here, like the camarão moçambique, shrimp sauteed in a spicy white wine, lemon, and crushed red pepper sauce; and the bacalhau grelhado, a hearty grilled salt cod dish finished off with a sweet garlic olive oil. True to its name, the restaurant also regularly hosts live music acts.
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Ming Seafood Restaurant
Assemble a Cantonese seafood feast at Ming’s, a crowd-favorite for a multitude of seafood dishes, including crispy prawns with XO sauce, sauteed clams in black bean sauce, and braised fish fillet cooked in a clay pot. It’s all housed inside a elegant banquet hall. And, a not-so-small side benefit: It has a blessedly large parking lot on-site.