Boston is famous for two things – the Red Sox and its straight-out-of-the-ocean oysters. The city has a long history of fishing and seafood-related industries, dating back to the early days of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Today, Boston is home to some of the country’s best seafood restaurants and a thriving fishing industry. Whether you’re looking for fresh-caught fish, succulent shellfish, or delicious fried seafood, you’ll find it all in Boston.
What Is The Best Seafood In The Boston Seaport?
When most people think of Boston cuisine, they think of oysters. However, oysters aren’t the only thing you’ll find on your plate when you order at a Boston seafood restaurant. Here are a few other types of seafood you can enjoy in Boston.
Almost all seafood restaurants in Boston will have Cape, sea, or bay scallops on their menu. While often broiled, there are many ways to prepare scallops and access their full flavor potential. Bay scallops are far sweeter and frequently consumed raw compared to sea scallops.
Oysters are the most popular and accessible delicacy in Boston. The city is rife with restaurants that specialize in fresh oysters. Some even offer seasonal shucking classes!
Boston sits on the New England oceanfront, so you won’t find any shortage of lobster dishes on any menu. You’ll most commonly find them in the form of a lobster roll, though many Boston restaurants also serve lobsters baked and stuffed.
Soft Shell Clam
Clamming is a popular pastime for many Boston natives, so travelers can expect to see this menu item in any seafood restaurant. Unlike hard shell clams, the soft shell variant (known as steamers) is more delicate and has a briny taste with a hint of sweetness.
7 Best Seafood Restaurants In Boston
Now that you know what type of seafood you can find around Boston, it’s time to shortlist the best seafood restaurants to visit!
Mooncusser Fish House $$$
304 Stuart St, Boston
*Dine-in *No delivery
Famous for its five-course local fish-tasting menu, Mooncusser Fish House isn’t just a fancy seafood restaurant – it’s a quintessential Boston experience. Menu favorites include the cuttlefish with swiss chard, steamed local bass with miso, and grilled bluefish maafe.
Guests looking to dine a la carte can opt to visit the Moon Bar, while take-out is available at Cusser’s.
Union Oyster House $$
41 Union St, Boston
*Dine-in *Takeout *Delivery
Considered America’s oldest restaurant, Union Oyster House first opened its doors in 1826. It’s even considered a National Historic Landmark!
Union Oyster House specializes in fried oysters and sweet clams, but its ultimate crowd-pleaser is theYe Olde Seafood Platter. For just a little over $30, you can enjoy a sizable plate of fried shrimp, calamari, fresh oysters, onion rings, and fish fillet.
Row 34 $$$
383 Congress St, Boston
*Dine-in *Curbside Pickup *No-Contact Delivery
Row 34 is the place to go for New England classics. It pays homage to Boston’s rich seafood heritage, sourcing its fresh ingredients exclusively from local farmers, fishermen, and lobstermen. At Row 34, you can enjoy every possible oyster preparation, including fried, stuffed, pickled, and even in the form of a juicy slider.
As the “casual” sister restaurant of Island Creek Oyster, Row 34 is the best place to enjoy a seafood platter and craft beer. It has a lively ambiance due to its central location in Boston’s Fort Point neighborhood.
Diners who want some privacy can book the Cooler Room for a private event.
Saltie Girl $$$
279 Dartmouth St, Boston
*Dine-in *Curbside Pickup *Delivery
Back Bay restaurant Saltie Girl is known for its uniquely-plated presentations of fresh and raw seafood. Crowd favorites include Saltie Girl’s seafood platters and signature seafood pizza, but you’ll also find other options like squid, scallops, razor clams, mackerel, tuna, trout, and sustainably harvested caviar.
As for take-out, Saltie Girl boasts the largest tinned seafood collection in New England (there are over 60 tins available)! No wonder it landed a spot in the Boston Magazine’s Best of Boston 2021 list as the Best Neighborhood Restaurant in the Back Bay.
Select Oyster Bar $$$
50 Gloucester St, Boston
*Dine-in *Takeout *No Delivery
Select Oyster Bar strays from the typical “Massachusetts clam shack” persona and plays to a more Mediterranean cooking style. All-time luxury meal favorites include the dayboat scallop ceviche, taverna-style sea bream, and Yellowfin tuna tartare.
The minimalist bar is incredibly versatile, with options for a quick oyster-and-wine fix or an all-night multi-course meal.
Aqua Pazza $$
135 Richmond St, Boston
*Dine-in *Takeout *Delivery
Both an Italian kitchen and oyster bar, Aqua Pazza serves up a unique menu of salmon Crudo, seafood risotto, whole seasonal fish, and their catch of the day. Aqua Pazza also boasts an impeccable wine collection filled with rosés, sparklers, whites, and reds.
Bostonians claim that Aqua Pazza provides the best fine dining experience for groups. For the ultimate Boston seafood fusion experience, diners can book a private room overlooking the historic North End.
Neptune Oyster $$$
63 Salem St, Boston
Perhaps the most extensive raw bar in Boston is Neptune Oyster, the most in-demand option for fresh local seafood since 2004. If you’re looking for a classic Boston lobster roll experience, Neptune Oyster’s lobster roll is New England’s best.
You’ll also be in for a treat with the piggyback oysters, Spanish octopus, Nantucket bay scallops, and Georges Bank sea scallops. Neptune Oyster’s most adventurous menu item has to be the Neptune Johnnycake, featuring Boston smoked bluefish, sturgeon caviar, and honey button on top of a perfectly fluffy pancake.
Neptune Oyster’s wine list is carefully curated. Just ask your server what will pair best with your meal. Ensure that you book a table ahead of time, as lines often flow into the street.
The Bottom Line
Boston is a coastal city, so it’s no surprise that seafood is a big part of the local cuisine. While it’s hard to name the best seafood restaurant in Boston, they all share a respect for local ingredients, a sustainability-first mindset, and the desire to serve only the freshest, most delicious dishes.
Do you want to discover more of what seafood has to offer across America? Check out our other guides on FINsider!