While it’s hard to deny the gastronomic pleasure of indulging in a fine dining seafood experience, there’s an undeniable joy to be had siding up to a bar and downing an order of deep fried clams, fish and chips, or any other seaside snack best served with zero pretension. From oceanfront shacks to walk up establishments, we’ve scoured the coast for the best places to get top notch seafood and an unforgettable experience at an unbeatable price.
Moby Dick’s, Wellfleet, Massachusetts
Drive along Cape Cod’s Route 6 on your way to Provincetown and you won’t be able to miss Moby Dick’s- if only due to the line up that will inevitably be snaking its way around the building. This no-fuss restaurant is wildly popular and for good reason. Order at the front counter, seat yourself, and prepare for the seafood experience of a lifetime. Everything is fresh, wildly flavorful, and comes in portions that won’t leave you wanting. The fish and chips are next level and no lobster lover should skip the lobster roll platter (it can even be ordered gluten free!). Oh, and as an added bonus, it’s BYOB.
Columbian Cafe, Astoria, Oregon
People come to Columbian Cafe as much for the experience as they do for the outstanding food. Don’t expect to be coddled, this is the kind of spot where only the strong survive. The rewards are plentiful, especially when they come in the form of the Chef’s Seafood Mercy, a serving of whatever Chef Uriah Ulsey deems worthy and spiced to taste (we hope you like things hot). The menu is constantly changing to reflect what’s fresh and never disappoints, making this gem the ideal stop on your next West Coast adventure.
Barnacle Billy’s, Ogunquit, Maine
Steamed clams, fresh lobster, homemade chowder, and lobster stew. It just doesn’t get much better than that. This cozy hotspot is a hit, making it tricky to find a table at peak hours but the food and experience are well worth the extra time. Whether you opt for counter service or head next door to Barnacle Billy’s Etc for table service, make sampling the clam chowder a priority. Unlike some of its less-worthy counterparts, the chowder at Billy’s is heavy on the clams, light on the fillers, and amazing down to the last spoonful.
Tides Tavern, Gig Harbor, Washington
Situated smack dab on the water, Tides Tavern is a local legend serving up homemade fare that has the power to convert even the most seafood averse into lifelong fans. Not only are their offerings fresh, the tavern works in compliance with the Marine Stewardship Council’s guidelines, ensuring that everything on your plate has been sustainably and responsibly caught. Additionally, Tides works with local suppliers whenever possible, making dining there not only good for your tastebuds but for your conscience as well. The whole menu is worth raving about but be sure to try the fish and chips which are delightfully satisfying and worth a repeat visit.
Bowens Island Restaurant Charleston, South Carolina
This place is about as low-fuss as you can get, situated on a rickety pier with breathtaking views of the water. Known for it’s oysters, Bowens Island Restaurant tends to draw large crowds so expect a wait and know that it’ll be well worth it. No muss, no fuss, just stellar food served simply and if you happen to time it right, the best place around to take in a breathtaking sunset.
Abbott’s Lobster in the Rough, Noank, Connecticut
Abbott’s Lobster in the Rough is a sprawling must-visit destination for anyone passing through Noank during the warmer months. Having earned a reputation for serving up some of the most incredible lobster rolls around, Abbott’s has been lauded by esteemed food critics and hungry tourists as being second to none. Freshly shucked oysters and delightful steamed clams are the perfect way to start your meal but be sure to save room for the original hot lobster roll that made this place famous. Feeling particularly peckish? The “OMG” 7 ounce version was made for you.