Astoria Warrenton - Pure Character

The Best Seafood Dives in America

4/14/2017

After 20 years of exploring (and loving) those rustic restaurants on the water that offer fresh seafood and no fuss, here's the ultimate ranking of the best of the best. From California to Maine, from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico, from lobster to crab (and usually with fries), get ready to dig in.

Abbott's Lobster in the Rough

Photo: Courtesy of @laursoriano/Lauren Soriano


1. Abbott's Lobster In The Rough

Noank, Connecticut

Abbott's opened my mind to a whole new concept: the hot lobster roll. It's a big pile of meat drenched in melted butter on a toasted bun, and it's life-changing.

Read more about Abbott's Lobster In The Rough, here.

Must Also Try: Clear-broth clam chowder.

Seafood Dive History: Originally a Seafood Dive in 1999. It was also mentioned in 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012.

Provision Company
Photo: Courtesy of Radian Photography


2. Provision Company

Southport, North Carolina

Provision Company is a waterfront joint that gets the balance exactly right, and it's a perfect experience. You eat peeled shrimp, you sip a cool beverage on a dock open to the sea breeze, and you watch the boats glide by. The fact that this is in truly charming Southport heightens the magic.

Must Also Try: Key lime pie.

Seafood Dive History: Originally a Seafood Dive in 2001. Also mentioned in 2009, 2011, and 2012.

Bowpicker Fish & Chips
Photo: Courtesy of Leah Van Hook

3. Bowpicker Fish & Chips

Astoria, Oregon

If you make transcendent albacore tuna fish-and-chips, then why bother with anything else? Cook it in an old fishing boat on a trailer and you have Bowpicker, a seafood dive that dreams are made of.

Read more about Bowpicker Fish & Chips, here.

Must Also Try: Take your meal across the street to sit alongside the Columbia River.

Seafood Dive History: Originally a Seafood Dive in 2013.

Sea-N-Suds Restaurant & Oyster Bar
Photo: Courtesy of www.VacationRentalPix.com

4. Sea-N-Suds Restaurant & Oyster Bar

Gulf Shores, Alabama

Start with the perfectly cooked fried shrimp and oysters, fresh from the Gulf of Mexico. Then mix your own cocktail sauce—delicious fun in a part of the country that gets fried seafood like none other.

Must Also Try: The spicy gumbo.

Seafood Dive History: Sea-N-Suds was originally a Seafood Dive in 2010. Also mentioned in 2012.

The Marshall Store
Photo: Courtesy of @breakfastlunchdena/breakfastlunchdena.com

5. The Marshall Store

Marshall, California

There's a brawniness to Tomales Bay oysters that I don't taste anywhere else, and this beloved spot is the best place to enjoy them among so many in this region. Revel in the flavor (and the dramatic view) at The Marshall Store’s communal waterfront tables—you might even get to taste the whole menu by swapping nibbles with newfound friends.

Must Try: Barbecued oysters with garlic butter and house sauce.

Seafood Dive History: Originally a Seafood Dive in 2001.

Red's Eats
Photo: Courtesy of @laursoriano/Lauren Soriano

6. Red's Eats

Wiscasset, Maine

My favorite lobster roll comes from this tiny stand at the foot of the U.S. 1 bridge. I love what's there (all the meat of a 1-pound lobster) and what's not (mayo).

Read more about Red's Eats, here.

Must Try: The lobster roll. Of course.

Seafood Dive History: Originally a Seafood Dive in 2009. Also mentioned in 2010, 2011, and 2012.

The Tides Tavern
Photo: Courtesy of Michael Hanson

7. The Tides Tavern

Gig Harbor, Washington

Firm, flavorful Alaskan halibut makes the best fish-and-chips. The Tides cooks it perfectly. I also love the craft beers and the only-in-Washington mix of fishermen, tech execs, neo-hippies, passing sailors, and mysterious strangers.

Read more about The Tides Tavern, here.

Must Also Try: Clam chowder, oyster shooters.

Seafood Dive History: Originally a Seafood Dive in 2007. Also mentioned in 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012.

Casamento's Restaurant
Photo: Marie Roussel


8. Casamento's Restaurant

New Orleans, Louisiana

So many nice things come together at Casamento’s: the truly great oysters, the chatty shuckers, the beautiful tile work, the signature oyster loaf (sort of a supercharged po' boy), and the courtly, old-school atmosphere.

Read more about Casamento's Restaurant, here.

Must Try: Oysters whichever way you like "em.

Seafood Dive History: Originally a Seafood Dive in 2007.

Arnold's Lobster & Clam Bar
Photo: Courtesy of Arnold’s Lobster and Clam Bar

9. Arnold's Lobster & Clam Bar

Eastham, Massachusetts

I'll put Arnold's fried whole-belly clams up against anybody's. In fact, this Cape Cod family favorite does a sprawling variety of seafood really well.

Read more about Arnold's Lobster & Clam Bar, here.

Must Also Try: Homemade onion rings.

Seafood Dive History: Originally a Seafood Dive in 2003. Also mentioned in 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012.

Killer Seafood
Photo: Courtesy of Killer Seafood

10. Killer Seafood

Mexico Beach, Florida

I love lots of joints on the Panhandle, but it's the homemade sauces at Killer Seafood—especially the tomatoey Simmerin' Sauce that spices up shrimp and scallops—that merit best in show.

Read more about Killer Seafood, here.

Must Also Try: The deliciously messy fish tacos; you'll lick the sauce off your hands.

Seafood Dive History: Originally a Seafood Dive in 2010. Also mentioned in 2012.

Bowens Island
Photo: Courtesy of Madi Haun

11. Bowen's Island

Charleston, South Carolina

There's a reason this place is a local hangout, a seafood lover's pilgrimage spot, and one of my very favorites on the Carolina coast: They dump shovel-fuls of steamed oysters right onto the table. And those oysters are damn fine.

Read more about Bowens Island, here.

Must Also Try: Boiled shrimp.

Seafood Dive History: Bowens Island was originally a Seafood Dive in 2000. It burned in 2006, was partially rebuilt and reopened in 2008, was fully rebuilt by 2010, and was again mentioned in Seafood Dives in 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012.

Malibu Seafood Fresh Fish Market and Patio Cafe
Photo: Jessica Sample

12. Malibu Seafood Fresh Fish Market and Patio Cafe

Malibu, California

Commercial fishermen own the place, and if they don't love it, they don't sell it. Chill (literally) on breezy covered patios while soaking in the view.

Read more about Malibu Seafood Fresh Fish Market and Patio Cafe, here.

Must Try: Ahi tuna burger.

Seafood Dive History: Malibu Seafood was originally a Seafood Dive in 2000. Also mentioned in 2009 and 2012.

Sunbury Crab Co.
Photo: Courtesy of Geoff Johnon

13. Sunbury Crab Co.

Sunbury, Georgia

The menu at Sunbury Crab Co.’s big three (blue crabs, oysters, wild shrimp) all come from the waters and docks you can see from your seat. That's as local—and delicious—as it gets.

Read more about Sunbury Crab Co., here.

Must Try: Steamed blue crabs.

Seafood Dive History: Originally a Seafood Dive in 2013.

Iggy's Doughboys & Chowder House
Photo: Courtesy of Rayme Gorniak

14. Iggy's Doughboys & Chowder House

Warwick, Rhode Island

Every bite of the buttery, herb-kissed New England clam chowder at Iggy’smakes me close my eyes and smile. And I can't resist the little square doughnuts that Iggy's calls "doughboys;" neither can every resident of the Ocean State, far as I can tell. Grab an extra half dozen for the road.

Read more about Iggy's Doughboys & Chowder House, here.

Must Also Try: Stuffed quahogs (local clams).

Seafood Dive History: Originally a Seafood Dive in 2014.

Faidley Seafood
Photo: Courtesy of Faidley Seafood

15. Faidley Seafood

Baltimore, Maryland

I'll say it: Faidley's crab cakes are the best I've ever tried. Even if you have to eat them standing up with a plastic fork. Which you will.

Read more about Faidley Seafood, here.

Must Try: Jumbo lump crab cakes.

Seafood Dive History: Originally a Seafood Dive in 2001; also mentioned in 2010 and 2012.

Star Fish Company
Photo: Courtesy of Island Real Estate of Anna Maria Island

16. Star Fish Company

Cortez, Florida

There is a simple, profound pleasure in eating fresh grouper in a beautiful Florida setting, and the best place to realize that dream, for my money, is right here in the still-sleepy fishing village of Cortez.

Must Try: The blackened grouper and the hush puppies.

Seafood Dive History: Star Fish Company was originally a Seafood Dive in 2010. Also mentioned in 2012.

Calumet Fisheries
Photo: Courtesy of James Millar

17. Calumet Fisheries

Chicago, Illinois

I found the boldest (aka the best) smoked fish I've ever tasted at this red-roofed takeout hut. These are big, big flavors; one good-size chunk of fish on a cracker almost makes a meal.

Read more about Calumet Fisheries, here.

Must Try: Pepper-and-garlic smoked salmon.

Seafood Dive History: Originally a Seafood Dive in 2008. Also mentioned in 2011 and 2012.

Bozo's Seafood Market and Deli
Photo: Courtesy of Bozo's Seafood Market and Deli

18. Bozo's Seafood Market and Deli

Pascagoula, Mississippi

A po' boy tastes best on the Gulf Coast, where they get the bread just right. Bozo's does an overstuffed version, which arrives hot from the kitchen in a white paper sack with your name scrawled on it. This is the kind of meal you hop a plane for.

Read more about Bozo's Seafood Market and Deli, here.

Must Try: The shrimp po' boy.

Seafood Dive History: Originally a Seafood Dive in 2008. Also mentioned in 2012.

Jolly Roger Seafood House
Photo: Courtesy of Ed Hoty

19. Jolly Roger Seafood House

Port Clinton, Ohio

Yes, Ohio! Juiciness and freshness are the keys to tasty fried fish, and Jolly Roger comes through on both counts, making it a Great Lakes star among stars.

Read more about Jolly Roger Seafood House, here.

Must Try: Yellow perch or (my favorite) walleye.

Seafood Dive History: Originally a Seafood Dive in 2005. Also mentioned in 2011 and 2012; search "Jolly Roger Seafood House" on Facebook.

Wanna Wanna Inn Beach Bar & Grill
Photo: courtesy of Wanna Wanna Inn Beach Bar & Grill

20. Wanna Wanna Inn Beach Bar & Grill

South Padre Island, Texas

Great boiled shrimp can make a good day at the beach perfect, and this thatched hut on the sand makes the experience Seafood Dive Hall of Fame–worthy.

Read more about Wanna Wanna Inn Beach Bar & Grill, here.

Must Try: You-peel-'em boiled shrimp fresh from the Gulf of Mexico.

Seafood Dive History: Originally a Seafood Dive in 2003. Also mentioned in 2009 and 2012.

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