Where to Get the Best Seafood in Boston in 2022

Published on November 2, 2022 | 0 Comments
The best Boston seafood isn't fancy, but it's always fresh.
Published on November 2, 2022 | 0 Comments

Do you want to know the secret to finding the best seafood in Boston? It’s still swimming in the harbor. Luckily, you don’t have to take the icy plunge to get it, because the top seafood restaurants in Boston have plenty of fresh local catch. If you ask a Bostonian where to get the best seafood in town, they’ll point you toward their favorite fish shack. That’s because while the seafood in Boston is always fresh, it isn’t fancy.  

New England has more than its share of craveable seafood classics. For some, it’s a hot mug of creamy clam chowder. For others, it’s the delicate bite of fried haddock on a buttery kaiser roll. But for most, it’s all about the lobster. Bib around your neck, butter rolling down your chin. Or chilled with a hint of mayonnaise on a split-top bun. 

Are you drooling yet? Then let’s sink our lobstah claws into the meat and potatoes of finding the best seafood in Boston. 

 

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Sample the Best Seafood in Boston

One way to sample the best seafood in Boston is to try a food tour. Some of the best seafood restaurants in Boston are hidden gems that can barely be considered restaurants at all. Boston isn’t a huge city, but it has several distinct food neighborhoods. Food tours in Boston are led by local experts who know their way around and can help you find the pearl in your oyster. 

19 Best Seafood Restaurants in Boston

1. Legal Harborside

Let’s start with a classic can’t-go-wrong standard. When you ask someone where to get the best seafood in Boston, Legal Sea Foods has been the answer for decades. Although it started as a paper-plate-only kind of establishment, Legal Sea Foods has always been synonymous with quality. 

The Vibe

Legal Sea Foods has many locations, but the flagship Legal Harborside is situated directly on Boston Harbor. The first floor is a perfect place to grab a quick taste of the best seafood in Boston while sightseeing. The second floor is a fine dining experience. Dining on the third-floor all-weather rooftop lounge is one of the best things to do in Boston.

What to Order

Start with an order of “stuffies” (stuffed clams) and their signature crab cakes. Then go all in with a fried fisherman’s platter or a classic like shrimp scampi.

Legal Harborside | 270 Northern Ave., Boston, MA 02210 | $$-$$$

Legal Harborside serves some of the best seafood in Boston.
via Legal Harborside

2. Neptune Oyster

You’ll see the line before you see the sign. Neptune Oyster is a cult favorite for the best seafood in Boston amongst locals and tourists alike. It’s a small spot perfectly situated between the downtown/Faneuil Hall area and the iconic North End, and it serves some of the best seafood in Boston for raw bar fans.

The Vibe

The vibe is more trendy bistro than raw bar, but it’s Boston, so no one cares what you wear.

What to Order

Go raw or go home. While most people think of oysters when they think raw, there is nothing like the salty-sweet bite of a raw clam. Start with some of both, and then try one of their more upscale preparations, like Nantucket Bay scallop crudo or razor clams casino.

Neptune Oyster | 63 Salem St., Boston, MA 02113 | $$$

a restaurant window reading Neptune Oyster, with fresh shellfish displayed inside
via Neptune Oyster

3. Union Oyster House

You can’t say you’ve eaten the best seafood in Boston until you’ve dined at Union Oyster House. Established in 1826, Union is the longest continuously operating restaurant in the country and a designated historic landmark. This is one of the best seafood places in Boston for simple classics at very affordable prices.

The Vibe

Step back in time to this dark, dimly lit maze of mini dining rooms. It’s perfect for a Revolutionary War buff. You can practically see the ghosts of our country’s forefathers, heads bent in deep discussion, in the corner.

What to Order

The menu is no-frills, highlighting the overall simplicity of the best seafood in Boston. Get a traditional dish like broiled scrod served with a sprinkle of breadcrumbs, or the Ye Olde fish and chips. If you’re a chowdah hound, Union serves one of the best in the city. 

Union Oyster House | 41 Union St., Boston, MA 02108 | $$

Union Oyster House serves some of the most famous Boston seafood.
via Union Oyster House

4. Red’s Best

What if you could go straight to the source for the best seafood in Boston? Red’s Best, located in the Boston Public Market, is not only on the list of the best seafood in Boston, but it’s also the freshest: They source directly from their own network of local fishermen. 

The Vibe

A true sea-to-counter market where chefs from all over the city go to get the freshest and best seafood in Boston. Red’s Best is more market than restaurant, so you’ll be taking your food to go. 

What to Order

One of the best seafood delicacies in Boston is the whole belly clam. Or try the lesser-known fried scallop roll. 

Red’s Best | 100 Hanover St., Boston, MA 02108 | $$

a crab cake burger
via Red's Best

5. The Boston Sail Loft

When you comb through the lists of the best seafood in Boston for chowder or a fish sandwich, you’ll always find The Boston Sail Loft. They’re not as famous as some of the other names, but that’s because locals are hoping to keep the secret to themselves. If your plan was to hit that other well-known spot on the harbor, take a few extra steps and dock here instead. 

The Vibe

It’s a shotgun-style neighborhood pub that happens to have great water views. Not only do they serve some of the best seafood in Boston, but the service is also warm and friendly, which is a change-up from the usual “slightly chilly” Boston style. 

What to Order

Their chowder has just a touch of dill, and it’s won pretty much every chowder award out there. Whether you go with a mug or a bread bowl, be sure to pair it with a fried fish sandwich (no cheese) and a frosty mug of Samuel Adams. 

The Sail Loft | 80 Atlantic Ave., Boston, MA 02110 | $$

an overflowing mug of clam chowder with croutons
via The Boston Sail Loft

6. Walrus & Carpenter Oyster Bar

The great news for tourists is that you can find some of the best seafood in Boston inside historic Quincy Market, Boston’s most famous food hall. The Walrus & Carpenter Oyster Bar is why the raw bar was the star long before sushi showed up. This is a place to sample the best raw Boston foods like cherrystone or littleneck clams and a lobster roll.

The Vibe

It’s a counter in busy and bustling Quincy Market. Hover around until a stool frees up, and grab it.

What to Order

You can get raw oysters anywhere, but you can’t get a raw clam like this anywhere else. Order a dozen cherrystones or littlenecks and a bowl of lobster bisque. The best seafood in Boston is often still in the shell.

Walrus & Carpenter Oyster Bar | 4 South Market Building, Boston, MA 02109 | $$

raw oysters
via Walrus & Carpenter Oyster Bar

7. The Barking Crab

The best seafood in Boston used to be concentrated around Quincy Market and Faneuil Hall. In recent years, the South Boston waterfront has been totally overhauled and has quickly become the place for a more modern and upscale seafood scene. The Barking Crab is the line of demarcation between the old and new.

The Vibe

A carnival tent-like structure beckons you, as does the waterfront location with both indoor and outdoor seating. A perfect place to gather with friends and graze.

What to Order

Go for the New England clambake, where you’ll get a sampling of the best seafood in Boston — lobster, steamed clams and steamed mussels, with the traditional sides of corn, potatoes and coleslaw.

The Barking Crab | 88 Sleeper St., Boston, MA 02210 | $$

The Barking Crab serves great Boston seafood in a quaint location.
via The Barking Crab

8. Row 34

The best seafood in Boston doesn’t necessarily come out of a fryer. When you’re ready for something more refined, head to Row 34

The Vibe

A stylish industrial kitchen with soaring ceilings and space for everyone.

What to Order

Get the lager steamed mussels with grilled sourdough to start. Row 34 is one of the best seafood restaurants in Boston to check out if you prefer the warm buttered lobster roll over chilled. 

Row 34 | 383 Congress St., Fort Point, MA 02210 | $$

a fresh lobster roll
via Row 34

9. Giacomo’s Ristorante

Giacomo’s Ristorante is another cult classic for the best seafood in Boston’s North End, known as Little Italy, Boston. This neighborhood, famous mostly for large-portion, hearty Italian eateries, also serves up some of the best seafood in Boston.

The Vibe

You’ll be waiting in line outside, but that’s part of the experience. The dining space is small and tight, and the energy is fun if not almost frenetic. 

What to Order

They are known for having one of the best fried calamari appetizers in the city. Follow that up with a seafood linguini in their scampi sauce or the frutti di mare in their signature Giacomo sauce, a lobster-based red sauce with a splash of béchamel cream.

Giacomo’s Ristorante | 355 Hanover St., Boston, MA 02116 | $$

Giacomo's Ristorante serves famous Italian seafood in Boston.
via Giacomo's Ristorante

10. James Hook & Co.

If you’re doing a full survey of the best seafood in Boston, put James Hook & Co. on your to-do list. This multi-generation family business serves both the wholesale and retail markets, and they serve one of the most respectable lobster rolls in town.

The Vibe

A grab-and-go seafood market that looks like a construction trailer with a few umbrella tables outside. 

What to Order

Topping the list of best seafood in Boston is their spot-on cold New England lobster roll on a warm, buttery split-top bun. The crab roll is a close second. Get both, and add a bag of Cape Cods and a whoopie pie for the complete experience.

James Hook & Co. | 440 Atlantic Ave., Boston, MA 02210 | $$

a lobster roll
via James Hook & Co.

11. Mare

Traditional New England seafood preparations are sometimes criticized for being too simple. No fancy sauces or seasonings. If your definition of the best seafood in Boston includes something a little more elegant, then Mare will be your spot.

The Vibe

Contemporary dining room inside. Comfortable seat groupings outside with lava glass fire pits.

What to Order

The grilled grigliata de pesce is an uncommon twist on Boston seafood delicacies like lobster, scallop and langoustine. If it’s a chilly night, try the zuppa di mare, which is a light tomato-based cioppino.  

Mare | 223 Hanover St., Boston, MA 02113 | $$$

Mare serves some of the best seafood in Boston.
via Mare

12. Scampo

When you think of the best pizza in Boston, you probably don’t think of seafood. Let’s face it: Pulling off a seafood pizza is tough. At Scampo, James Beard Award-winning chef Lydia Shire takes on the challenge and knocks it out of Fenway Park with her lobster pizza. 

The Vibe

Straightforward upscale dining room located on Beacon Hill in The Liberty Hotel, a former jail. 

What to Order

Scampo means “escape” in Italian, so escape from the ordinary pizza with a cream and ricotta-based pie, caramelized onions and a generous portion of lobster finished with Parmesan and green onions. If that’s too far overboard, try Autumn’s pink quince risotto instead, and you’ll still get your lobster fix. If you’re in for lunch, don’t miss the fried calamari with peppadew pot.

Scampo | 215 Charles St., Boston, MA 02114 | $$$

a lobster pizza
via Scampo

13. Select Oyster Bar

It seems like raw seafood should be cheaper than cooked by design, but this is rarely the case. While Select Oyster Bar serves up some of the best seafood in Boston for group grazing, be prepared to dive deep into your wallet to enjoy it.

The Vibe

Cozy but borderline elegant pub, primarily offering counter-style seating.

What to Order

Select offers four different “plateaux'' options that range in size and price. These are sampler platters of the best seafood in Boston. Depending on your appetite and your allowance, you’ll get to sample raw oysters, lobster, blue crab and shrimp, with the option to go big by adding on salmon crudo, hamachi and caviar. If you’re not splurging, get the petite clams or the bouillabaisse Select. 

Select Oyster Bar | 50 Gloucester St., Boston, MA 02115 | $$$

the packed oyster bar at Select Oyster Bar
via Select Oyster Bar

14. Ned Devine’s Irish Pub

Yes, you’re still reading a round-up of the best seafood in Boston. While the Irish pub may be more synonymous with bangers and mash than surf and turf, Ned Devine’s Irish Pub has had the luck of the Irish when it comes to their clam chowder recipe. It’s a closely kept secret, but it’s won the Chowderfest Boston title four times. 

The Vibe

Located in the Faneuil Hall marketplace, Ned’s has a fun and festive atmosphere. This is the perfect place to get the best seafood in Boston while watching the Pats win another Super Bowl on the big screen.

What to Order

As if the chowder wasn’t good enough, wait until you bite into their Samuel Adams beer-battered fish and chips. Needless to say, they have plenty of cold Sam and Guinness on draft to wash it down.

Ned Devine’s Irish Pub | 1 Faneuil Hall Marketplace, Boston, MA 02109 | $$

Ned Devine's serves some of the best seafood in Boston.
via Ned Devine's Irish Pub

15. Yankee Lobster Company

The Seaport area is definitely full of places to spend your money on the best seafood in Boston. But your money goes a lot further at the Yankee Lobster Company

The Vibe

It looks more like a place to get pizza and grinders, but it’s a neighborhood seafood shack nonetheless.  

What to Order

This is one of the best seafood places in Boston to get your roll on. Whether you’re on the cold or hot lobster roll train, they execute both with perfection. If you’re feeling indecisive, get the Crobster roll, which is a split of crab and lobster. 

Yankee Lobster Company | 300 Northern Ave., Boston, MA 02210 | $$

a lobster roll and a side of fries
via Yankee Lobster Company

16. The Chart House

Every city needs a surf and turf grand dame where you can go for a special occasion. In Boston, it’s the Chart House. They deliver the best seafood in Boston with traditional preparations and style.  

The Vibe

The Chart House is located in the oldest structure at Long Wharf on Boston Harbor. It’s an updated dining space in one of the most historic buildings in the city.  

What to Order

The Dock to Dine menu features the most premium fish options with traditional minimalist preparations. For a true New England dining experience, get the lobster-stuffed Boston scrod or an entire lobster.

Chart House | 60 Long Wharf, Boston, MA 02110 | $$$

Chart House offers special occasion seafood in Boston.
via Chart House

17. Ocean Prime

When you’re looking for upscale date ideas in Boston, Ocean Prime checks all the boxes. Yes, it’s part of a large seafood conglomerate like some of the other restaurants that made our list, but their spot is well deserved. Ocean Prime consistently delivers on the promise to embody the energy and spirit of each city they serve, and their legacy of being the best seafood in Boston, MA is no exception.

The Vibe

Modern, polished and refined, yet intimate. Perfect for entertaining an important business guest or stepping out with your significant other. To feel at ease while enjoying some of the best seafood in Boston, they suggest you dress to impress.

What to Order

A decadent bowl of lobster bisque to start, followed by the Atlantic cod with lobster, gnocchi and spring peas. The sea scallops served with Parmesan risotto could easily be the best seafood in Boston for scallop lovers.

Ocean Prime | 140 Seaport Blvd., Boston, MA 02210 | $$$

a dish of scallops and risotto
via Ocean Prime

18. Hingham Lobster Pound

While it’s technically outside of Boston, Hingham Lobster Pound had to be on our list. Not only do they serve some of the best seafood in Boston, but they’re also one of the best deals in town. This family-owned spot has been earning fans with New England classics since 1958. 

The Vibe

This former bait shack is a combination takeout window and seafood market. 

What to Order

There’s something nostalgic about a tuna salad roll. It brings back the kid in you. But there’s also something about a pile of perfectly fried seafood that every adult needs now and then. Either way, when it’s time for dessert, go for the fried Twinkie.

Hingham Lobster Pound | 4 Broad Cove Road, Hingham, MA 02043 | $

a red shop with a sign reading Hingham Lobster Pound
via Hingham Lobster Pound

19. Summer Shack Boston

Any place that can channel summer year-round in chilly New England and also prioritizes local catch gets our vote for best seafood in Boston. Summer Shack Boston is one of the few places that also manages to successfully integrate seafood — and drag — into brunch. They serve traditional brunch on both Saturdays and Sundays, but keep an eye out for their Saturday drag brunches, like the recent Britney Spears drag brunch or a drag Disney theme.  

The Vibe

Super charming, laid-back neighborhood seafood joint complete with blue-and-white checked tablecloths and light fixtures fashioned from old porthole covers. Come as you are, unless it’s a drag day, of course.

What to Order

Get the lobster hash or the seafood Benedict trio. With the trio, you won’t have to decide between lobster, crab cake or smoked salmon to go with your hollandaise; you’ll get all three.

Summer Shack Boston | 50 Dalton St., Boston, MA 02115 | $$

a plate of lobster hash
via Summer Shack Boston

There are many newer and fancier restaurants that also serve the best seafood in Boston if you’re looking for something with modern appeal. Some of the hottest chefs are more Mediterranean-leaning than Atlantic, and of course, there’s plenty of sushi to choose from in a town that boasts so much fresh catch.

But Boston is a pretty small town in the grand scheme of things, so don’t be afraid to get off the beaten path and explore the nooks and crannies of the coastline. For every fancy restaurant downtown, there are 10 hidden gems just waiting to be found further offshore. The best seafood in Boston is never more than a high tide away.

For even more fun ways to explore Boston and beyond, check out other experiences happening on Cozymeal.

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