The 20 Best Seafood Dives of all Time, Ranked!
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.
This story originally appeared on Coastalliving.com by Steve Millburg.
1. Abbott's Lobster In The Rough
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.
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.
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.
3. Bowpicker Fish & Chips
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.
Must Also Try: Take your meal across the street to sit alongside the Columbia River.
Seafood Dive History: Originally a Seafood Dive in 2013.
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.
Read more about Sea-N-Suds Restaurant & Oyster Bar, here.
Must Also Try: The spicy gumbo.
Seafood Dive History: Sea-N-Suds was originally a Seafood Dive in 2010. Also mentioned in 2012.
5. The Marshall Store
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.
6. Red's Eats
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).
Must Try: The lobster roll. Of course.
Seafood Dive History: Originally a Seafood Dive in 2009. Also mentioned in 2010, 2011, and 2012.
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.
Must Also Try: Clam chowder, oyster shooters.
Seafood Dive History: Originally a Seafood Dive in 2007. Also mentioned in 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012.
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.
Must Try: Oysters whichever way you like "em.
Seafood Dive History: Originally a Seafood Dive in 2007.
9. Arnold's Lobster & Clam Bar
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.
Must Also Try: Homemade onion rings.
Seafood Dive History: Originally a Seafood Dive in 2003. Also mentioned in 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012.
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.
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.
11. Bowens 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.
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.
12. Malibu Seafood Fresh Fish Market and Patio Cafe
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.
Must Try: Ahi tuna burger.
Seafood Dive History: Malibu Seafood was originally a Seafood Dive in 2000. Also mentioned in 2009 and 2012.
13. Sunbury Crab Co.
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.
Must Try: Steamed blue crabs.
Seafood Dive History: Originally a Seafood Dive in 2013.
14. Iggy's Doughboys & Chowder House
Warwick, Rhode Island
Every bite of the buttery, herb-kissed New England clam chowder at Iggy's makes 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.
Must Also Try: Stuffed quahogs (local clams).
Seafood Dive History: Originally a Seafood Dive in 2014.
15. Faidley Seafood
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.
Must Try: Jumbo lump crab cakes.
Seafood Dive History: Originally a Seafood Dive in 2001; also mentioned in 2010 and 2012.
16. Star Fish Company
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.
17. Calumet Fisheries
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.
Must Try: Pepper-and-garlic smoked salmon.
Seafood Dive History: Originally a Seafood Dive in 2008. Also mentioned in 2011 and 2012.
18. Bozo's Seafood Market and Deli
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.
Must Try: The shrimp po' boy.
Seafood Dive History: Originally a Seafood Dive in 2008. Also mentioned in 2012.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This article originally appeared on Coastalliving.com