Despite its association with historic New England fishing communities and idyllic harbor views, Boston once suffered from a scarcity of great seafood spots. Luckily in recent years, area restaurants have come to embrace the city’s location and are now intent on partnering with local fisherman to provide the freshest seafood from surrounding waters. The result? Inventive dishes and a steady stream of fresh oysters straight from the South Shore and Cape. Yes, these days the buoyant Boston spirit and proximity to the ocean work swimmingly in your favor.
Situated in the historic North End, Neptune Oyster is a petite yet romantic spot adorned with white subway tiles and soft globe lights. Open at 11:30 daily, weekends see a line forming down the block well before noon, so if you intend on a brunch plan definitely wake up early. Otherwise, stop by any day before cocktail hour to put your name on the dinner list. As their namesake suggests, Neptune has an extensive oyster list that rivals some of the best restaurants in the city, but they're equally known for their lobster roll. Grab it chilled with mayonnaise or hot and buttered; either way, go early.
Technically, Legal Harborside is part of a local chain known for serving iconic Boston seafood. That said, it's a place the natives know and love, and it wouldn't be right making this list without it. The perfect setting for a crowd, the restaurant spans across three separate floors, each with its own menu. Glass windows allow you to admire the water from all levels, and if you have a boat, you can even arrive by sea. If the weather permits, head to the rooftop lounge and order their tempura lobster roll.
Located in Cambridge’s Harvard Square, Waypoint is the second restaurant from acclaimed chef, Michael Scelfo. Offering an extensive list of absinthe-centered cocktails, the herbal notes of the infamous Green Fairy pair surprisingly well with the seafood-heavy menu and marine decor. As for the food, they're known for their king crab dish, which comes with squid ink black rice and a brown butter aioli. Just as justified of a choice is the homemade pasta and pizza dishes; even the bread, with its smoked seaweed butter and anchovy dip, comes with a kiss of the ocean.
The founder of B&G Oysters, Chef Barbara Lynch, is somewhat of a Boston darling. Recently named one of TIME’s most influential people, she has a number of swoon-worthy restaurants in the city, but B&G is her site for seafood. Whether you eat at the intimate indoor counter space or seasonal outdoor patio, be sure to get the New England clam chowder. And if you like a side of lobster with your B.L.T. this is the place for that, too. To top it all off, Lynch knows how to throw a party, and the restaurant occasionally hosts all-you-can-eat seafood affairs, so be sure to check their website for upcoming events.
If you're looking for a celebratory night out, Ostra will be ready to break out the white linen. Serving modernized, Mediterranean-inspired seafood, the restaurant prides itself on partnering with local fishmongers to offer the freshest catch they can. Located in the bustling Theatre District of Boston, it acts as the perfect stop for finely crafted sea creatures before a show. And in the event that your evening budget doesn't include caviar and champagne, opt for the New England coastal fish soup and sit back to enjoy the live piano. It'll feel a lot fancier than it costs.
Row 34 holds the coveted luxury of having Island Creek Oysters, the famed Duxbury-based oyster farm, as a partner. Located in Fort Point, a section of the city with a rich artist community, the restaurant’s exposed brick and high ceiling feel at home with the chic industrial attitude of the area. And as you might expect, the oysters are on point. If you need something a little more substantial, get the fried oyster roll — it's a better value than its lobster counterpart and arguably more satisfying. Adding an order of old bay onion rings and a pint from their extensive beer list is a respectable finish.
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