RESTAURANTS / SEAFOOD

The 25 Best Seafood Restaurants in Boston

From simple seafood classics to refreshing and out-of-the-box dishes, the city is serving it all up. Between the old family favorites and new school innovation, there is enough choice in Boston to please any palate.

JUN 17, 2019

When it comes to making a name for yourself as a first-rate seafood restaurant, using the freshest ingredients is key. As we know, this is easy to find in Boston.

Fresh fish, crustaceans, and bivalves are fished daily from the bountiful surrounding waters, so New Englanders get to enjoy the best of the best — provided it’s in season, of course.

Before you head back to Legal Seafoods again, check out the list below and see if any of them strike your fancy.

ISAAC BROWN

  • Best Seafood by Category
  • Best Seafood by Occasion
Best Seafood by Category
Best Seafood by Occasion

Best Overall

James Hook & Co

Financial District, $$

This charming waterfront destination offers live lobsters and a shellfish-centered menu for dine-in and takeout.

James Hook & Co. is a third-generation family business, going back to 1925 when the current management’s grandfather would supply local restaurants with fresh lobster caught daily. Aside from dine-in and takeout, they claim to ship out around 50,000 pounds of lobster every day – that’s a lot of lobster!


When dining in, you’ll want to try the lobster roll – they claim it’s the best in Boston, and they might be right – and the Fish Chowda with Cape Cod Chips is a must-try.

TIPS & HINTS

Looking to ship the experience? Current specials on lobster tail and a full lobster dinner make it easy to experience Boston, the James Hook way, no matter where you might be on the map.

Best Raw Oysters

Neptune Oyster

North End, $$$

Good things come in small packages, and the devoted already know about Neptune Oyster, located on Salem Street. It may be pricier than most, but there’s no better place in the area when oysters are on your mind. Accolades singing the praises of Neptune Oyster continuously roll in from publications like Food & Wine, bon appetit, New York Post, People and Zagat’s for good reason.

The raw bar (open until 10pm weekdays, and 11pm on weekends) should be your first priority here, but a robust menu offers a whole lot more – including specialties like the Neptune Burger, Acadian Redfish & Chips, and squid ink risotto. Events here range from charity benefits to those celebrating the finest in Boston dining – of which Neptune Oyster is a central establishment.

TIPS & HINTS

No reservations and a small popular restaurant means you should expect to wait 30 minutes to an hour for a table unless you arrive before the dinner rush.

Best Seafood Lunch

Row 34

Seaport, $$$

The fresh oysters and incredible craft beer selection are enough to entice anyone into coming back to dine at Row 34 again and again.

Featuring a wraparound raw bar, a beautiful outdoor patio, and some serious seafood, Row 34 is one of the city’ finest establishments for a good reason. The Maine crabcakes are an absolute must-try at this stylish brick-and-wood eatery.

We love the uniquely Bostonian menu items (like the stuffed cod cakes with Boston baked beans) that just can’t be done right anywhere else. The signature stuffed clams come highly recommended at this nautical-themed family-owned joint.

TIPS & HINTS

If you’re tired of the usual oysters and lobster rolls, Row 34 makes excellent steaks as well. Try the smoked charcuterie plate.

Best Lobster Rolls

Lobstah on a Roll

Southie, $$

Boston’s Lobstah on a Roll positions itself as “the biggest little restaurant in America,” and its namesake Lobster Rolls are huge, eye-popping attractions.

The menu’s rounded out with hand-carved craft sandwiches like the Boston Whaler (tomato, lettuce, and thick-sliced bacon piled high and served with a herb garlic aioli), soups, and salads, but don’t let those distract you from the reason you’re here.


The Standahd lobster roll is a 6-inch roll with a hefty 6.5 ounces of lobster meat! Bigger and better variations include Two If by Sea, Big Papi, The Triple, The Quad, and The Monstah. Takeout, delivery, online ordering, and catering are all available from Lobstah on a Roll—so you’ve got no excuse to miss out on Boston’s best lobster rolls.

TIPS & HINTS

Their clam chowder is lovely. The people working here are friendly and welcoming.

Best Seafood Brunch

Saltie Girl

Back Bay, $$$

Here is a restaurant that’s really changing things up. Instead of placing the spotlight on the usual ingredients, Saltie Girl focuses on top-quality tinned seafood. This may sound odd to people who haven’t tried it yet, but once you taste the octopus or anchovies with fresh artisanal bread and the house-churned butter, you will taste just how delicious it is.


Saltie Girl is also an ideal spot for brunch, boasting showstopping menu items such as the fried lobster and waffles with sweet corn butter. Dishes are served tapas style so you can order a variety; you can’t go wrong with the many delicious options on the menu.

TIPS & HINTS

Try the spicy king crab roll, the scallop crudo, and the torched salmon belly.

Best Fresh Lobster

Alive & Kicking Lobsters

Cambridge, $$

Alive & Kicking Lobsters doesn’t mess around. This simple spot is a must-visit for any Bostonian local or visitor. Don’t expect fancy decor and a lengthy menu here; Alive & Kicking Lobsters is a basic restaurant where the focus is on the quality of the food.

You must try the famous lobster sandwich on scali bread and the amazing chowders. You can even take home some incredibly fresh fish to cook yourself.

TIPS & HINTS

Expect long lines on the weekends. Check the weather forecast and bring an umbrella if there’s a cloud in the sky as they have limited indoor seating.

Best for Special Occasions

Ocean Prime

Seaport, $$$

This restaurant’s name says it all: prime, quality produce, fresh from the ocean.

Ocean Prime is an upscale establishment that provides a sophisticated experience. Perfect for any kind of celebration, Ocean Prime offers an impressive menu focusing on local seafood and top-notch steaks. The cocktails and wine list are just as impressive as the food.

If you are out for a special occasion, we recommend indulging in the lobster, scallops, or sweet chili calamari. The service here is also of a very high standard—exactly what you would expect from this top-notch restaurant.

TIPS & HINTS

Great atmosphere for a date night or a celebratory night out, though it can get loud when they’re busy.

Best Italian Seafood

Mare Oyster Bar

North End, $$$

Located in a side alley off of Hanover Street, this one’s easy to miss if you’re not looking for it. Mare Oyster Bar infuses Italian flavors with fresh local produce to create something truly special. While the usual crustaceans and bivalves are popular at this oyster bar, other meatier dishes are also highly regarded.


The truffle-encrusted tuna is about as good as it gets, while the wild boar pappardelle will have you dreaming about it for weeks to come. The organic wine selection is another highlight.

TIPS & HINTS

Besides the eponymous oysters, try their many excellent seafood pastas as well: lobster ravioli, risotto, and gnocchi are a few of my favorites

Best Seafood Shack

Sullivan’s Castle Island

South Boston, $

Serving customers since 1951, Sullivan’s Castle Island hasn’t changed much over the years. This Bostonian institution is famed for its hot dogs and ice cream cone takeaways, which you’ll enjoy while walking along the beach or around Castle Island. Of course, the seafood is great, too!

It’s unpretentious and simple; you can expect quality fried scallops, fish and chips, clam chowder, and lobster rolls. The fish sandwiches are also well worth the visit.

TIPS & HINTS

Best time is before 12pm and a hour or so after. Don’t let the long line detour you, it moves fast. Great view of the harbor and Boston from the outdoor seating area, though shade is limited.

Best for Groups

Island Creek Oyster Bar

Fenway, $$$

This semi-industrial space focuses on oysters, and because of that, Island Creek Oyster Bar really does them well. There’s certainly no shortage of variety here; you’ve got your classic Wellfleets with their distinctive salty brine as well as the more buttery Island Creek variety from which the restaurant derives its namesake.

Besides the oysters, the rest of the menu is inventive and heavenly. The monkfish schnitzel is truly one of a kind, while the roasted cauliflower side dish will perfectly accompany your meal.

You can expect to be just as impressed by the vibe—the staff is energetic and friendly, and we also love the impressive drinks menu, which includes a great selection of cocktails, beer, and wine.

TIPS & HINTS

Try their brunch menu, it’s got dishes like the Portuguese donut sandwich and the pulled pork Benedict. Great place for groups, but make reservations at least a few days in advance.

Best Fish

Select Oyster Bar

Back Bay, $$$

Oysters with a side of Mediterranean “oomph” are on special here, and Select Oyster Bar (located at 50 Gloucester Street) offers some of the best fish dishes – from the basic to the extra-special – to be found in the Boston area. Look for the Maine Halibut, Icelandic Arctic Char or Gloucester Swordfish, and begin with a few appetizers like sauteed petite clams or Romanesco cauliflower. Wash it all down with a curated wine menu and small-batch craft cocktails.

Plenty of publications give Select Oyster Bar its due shout-outs, and reservations are available – or inquire about a private event, which Select Oyster Bar is also known for. Chef Michael Serpa oversees the positioning here as a neighborhood seafood spot, and the atmosphere is certainly one of the most inviting.

TIPS & HINTS

I highly recommend the warm and cold lobster dishes as well as the scallops, the beet salad and the salmon.

Best Seafood Takeout

Pauli’s

North End, $

Pauli’s is a great place to chill out with the gang when you’d like to catch up over budget-friendly sandwiches and Italian favorites, but it’s also a fantastic option for takeout and catering. Playfully named signature sandwiches include the Vito Sub, Mama Lucca Sub and the Killer Bee (chicken cutlet, bacon, provolone, lettuce, tomatoes and honey mustard).

The comprehensive takeout menu doesn’t end there, though – it’s packed with sides, soups, fish, burgers, breakfast, and salads. Plenty to drink, too: a handful of tasty (but non-alcoholic) options are chilled and at the ready. The locals dig it, for sure – that’s reflected in a selection of branded shirts and hats available to go, too. Pauli’s is one of Salem Street’s favorites!

TIPS & HINTS

If you have neither the time nor the patience to wait in line for a lobster roll at the other places on this list, Pauli’s is where you want to go.

Best Clam Chowder

Boston Sail Loft

North End, $$

Located right on the water’s edge, Boston Sail Loft takes you straight to the source of great seafood. The views are amazing from this warm and hospitable local gem.

You can always expect Boston Sail Loft to be buzzing with customers. As one would expect from this area, the lobster is heavenly! The well-priced meaty lobster roll is another local favorite. The clam chowder is magnificent—one of the absolute best in the city.

TIPS & HINTS

Hearty portion sizes. Try the lobster ravioli, the fish and chips, and the Cajun shrimp appetizer.

Best Surf and Turf

Atlantic Fish Co

Back Bay, $$$

When in Boston, you just have to visit this well-loved establishment.

Opened in 1978, Atlantic Fish Co is still going strong with its genuine retro charm. This restaurant is all about keeping the food hearty, wholesome, and delicious. Surf and turf is enjoyed here in the forms of the amazing Captain’s Platter, filet mignon, or the linguine with clams.

Atlantic Fish Co changes up the menu daily according to the catch that comes in, so patrons know they are being served some of the freshest seafood in the bay.

TIPS & HINTS

Highly recommend the crab crusted haddock.

Best Casual Seafood

Yankee Lobster

Seaport, $$

Yankee Lobster is a no-frills spot that brings its devoted followers great seafood in one of the most casual, comfortable environments in the greater Boston area. Order at the counter and take your selection out to a patio if the weather’s right. Yankee Lobster began as a wholesale / retail operation in 1950, and the current family members took over operations sometime around 1989.


Depending on how many you’re dining with, you might want to consider a seafood platter or any of the differently sized “Bucket O’ Crabs.” Shellfish, sandwiches, salads and fish are prepared along with an American Favorites menu and even a few items tailored just for the kids.

As for us, we’ll go with the seafood stew. Beer? Of course there’s cold brew ready, and it only accentuates the already-casual vibe of Yankee Lobster.

TIPS & HINTS

It’s supposed to look like a seafood shack on the inside, but you don’t come here for the atmosphere. You come here for the lobster.

Best Raw Bar

The Hourly Oyster House

Cambridge, $$

This charming establishment is comfortable and laid-back; it’s a paradise for food lovers. As the name suggests, oysters are king at The Hourly Oyster House.


A wide selection of the freshest oysters is available, and the oysters are perfect to wash down with a cocktail or local beer.


For the one inevitable family member who won’t touch fishy stuff, the burgers are a good bet. Free up a couple of hours to enjoy the cozy booths and slow lunches at this joint.

TIPS & HINTS

While the oysters are great, the lobster rolls aren’t at the same level as many other places on this list.

Best Upscale Seafood

Ostra

Back Bay, $$$$

Ostra is the epitome of pure elegance and sophistication in a restaurant. The Mediterranean-inspired menu is served by well-trained staff in an upscale environment. Think white linen tablecloths, shining silverware, and live music in the dining room.

Of course, the food matches the atmosphere. The dishes are exciting, interesting, and well-executed. The Spanish paella is a favorite, as are the Alaskan king crab and fine caviar selection.

TIPS & HINTS

The salt crusted branzino is out of this world and worth the price tag.

Best Seafood Tapas

Waypoint

Cambridge, $$$

Don’t expect classics like you know them at Waypoint. The menu here features fantastic and unique kinds of pasta, burgers, and pizzas; our favorite has to be the chopped clam pizza and tomato-topped burger.

If you are into absinthe, then you are in for a treat. We are talking craft concoctions and out-of-this-world flavors. Overall, expect a modern and fun vibe at Waypoint.

TIPS & HINTS

Incredibly tasty/unique small plates, but you need at least two per person to fill up, arguably 2.5 or 3 per person

Best Shrimp Scampi

The Oceanaire Seafood Room

Downtown Boston, $$$

The Oceanaire Seafood Room might be a chain, but it’s so well-loved by Boston residents that we want to claim it all for ourselves. Seafood, steak and an oh-so-incredible wine list make this spot the step up when you’re dining to impress or celebrate special occasions. It’s in the Financial District, so valet parking makes travel convenient – and reservations are recommended.

The menu (including shrimp scampi) is refreshed and printed frequently enough to reflect the fresh seafood available to diners. You’ll want to dig the oyster bar, the raw bar, or the chef’s specialties – Achiote spiced fish tacos, the crab cake club, and sesame crusted Hawaii tuna. Prime steakhouse cuts offer the best of turf, as well, so there’s plenty to satisfy at The Oceanaire.

TIPS & HINTS

A great place to celebrate a birthday with a meringue flambe.

Best Grilled Octopus

B&G Oysters

Southie, $$$

B&G Oysters is another amazing oyster bar with a focus on seasonal produce. It’s a great spot to eat at when the weather is nice as you can enjoy your meal on the outdoor patio.


At B&G Oysters, you can expect perfect wine pairings, fantastic lobster dishes, and, of course, plenty of oysters. The lobster bisque is particularly good, as is the crispy branzino with citrus and fennel. A number of places do great grilled octopus, but B&G remains my personal favorite.

TIPS & HINTS

I’d lean in on the oysters. They have a wide selection and a spectrum of flavors. Split the clam chowder for two and skip the lobster roll for more oysters!

Best Fish and Chips

The Druid

Cambridge, $$

While not a seafood restaurant in the traditional sense, there’s no better place to enjoy a classic pub dish like fish and chips than this neighborhood Irish pub. And just to be clear, this is a genuine Irish pub, not the fake kind with shamrocks and leprechauns.

It’s got a comfy, welcoming vibe that plenty of other spots just can’t compete with, and it’s one of the best places to hang out after work.


It’s found in the heart of Cambridge’s Inman Square, and social events here include traditional Irish music, DJs and trivia night. Did we mention the best Guinness pour in the Northeast?


A pub grub style menu has all the classics, too – fish chowder, Druid Chips, a house-made Druid Burger, signature Druid Beef Stew, and a Druid Platter (lamb kebobs, chicken tenders and Irish sausage). Plenty of craft and domestic beer is available at The Druid, so fear not if Irish stouts aren’t your go-to libation.

TIPS & HINTS

Only $5 cover charge on Saturday night. They do a delicious shepherd’s pie.

Best Fish Market

North End Fish & Sushi

North End, $$$

Affordable, high quality sushi is what North End Fish & Sushi is known for, located in the heart of Little Italy. Dumplings, maki rolls, sashimi and nigiri are available, with online ordering and delivery options adding a touch of convenience.


Go straight to their “Most Popular” menu for lobster roll, edamame and shrimp shumai. Signature items are Chef Paul’s Surprise (shrimp tempura, avocado, spicy tuna and special sauce) and the Super Mario (salmon, shrimp tempura, avocado, cucumber and cilantro wrapped in soybean paper).

TIPS & HINTS

Seating is limited so this place functions best for takeout. A little pricey, but if you want cheap sushi you can go to an all-you-can-eat type place. Few places in Boston do it better.

Best Outdoor Seating

Tony’s Clam Shop

Quincy, $$

Casual and convenient Tony’s Clam Shop has offered South Shore residents family friendly dining for more than 50 years with an indoor greenhouse-style area and an outdoor patio.


Comfort food favorites include Tony’s Own Homemade Clam Chowder, Broiled Swordfish and Salmon, 1 ½ Pounds of Fresh Maine Steamers for just under twenty bucks, and Tony’s Famous Fish ‘N Chips. Baskets, kid’s meals, salads and deli style sandwiches are also available. Beer, wine and cocktails are also available to accompany meals.

TIPS & HINTS

Lovely to visit in the summertime, but there will be lines!

Best Stuffed Clams

Turner’s Seafood Grill & Market

Melrose, $$

While it’s less easy to get to, this seafood restaurant is worth the short drive or commuter rail ride.

If you’re going out for seafood, go for the spot with nautical decor accenting expertly prepared seafood – and that includes stuffed clams. Turner’s Seafood is a family-owned operation that’s welcoming for other families as well, so bring the kids and get ready for a meal experience like none other.


The concept has a long, distinguished history of roots in the wholesale fishing business, but the restaurant opened its doors in Melrose, back in 1994; the Seafood Market opened in 2006 and the “Dock to Door” Seafood Market opened in 2010 for a presence in Salem, Melrose and Gloucester.

TIPS & HINTS

Of course, the stuffed clams are tough to beat – but be sure to try the raw bar and chef’s swordfish.

Best Branzino

Zef Cicchetti & Raw Bar

Quincy, $$

The raw bar’s a hit here, but Zef Cicchetti & Raw Bar is also known for its small plate menu offerings and Venetian style decor. Contemporary fare prepared with the feel of an old world setting, the dishes here go well with an impressive wine list.


It’s a concept that keeps family in mind – in fact, owner Leo Keka created Zef Cicchetti & Raw Bar as an homage to his late father Zef, showing off remarkable skill in creating unique menu items with a respectful nod to the family’s roots in Albania.


Open seven nights a week, Zef Cicchetti & Raw Bar is truly one of Quincy’s best dining destinations.

TIPS & HINTS

Scenic outdoor seating is also available, and you won’t want to miss specials like the Tuesday oyster special.