There are plenty of excellent seafood dishes to eat at thousands of restaurants in NYC, but if you can only eat seafood and want more than one option, where should you go? We've compiled a list of some of our favorite spots to chow down on seafood, whether that means a basket of fried shrimp, a big bowl of clam pasta, or a perfectly-cooked piece of halibut (stay tuned for our Best Lobster Roll post coming soon).
Important: Not every restaurant on this list is truly fish-only, so make sure to ask for clarification on whether a dish contains any meat (stocks, bases, etc.) before proceeding.
And how, here's where to enjoy the ocean's bounty in NYC; be sure to leave your favorite fish dishes in the comments.
Skate Wing (Scott Heins/Gothamist)
GLORIA "So far, meat has never come through my front door," Phil Johnson explains of his fish-friendly new restaurant Gloria that opened recently in Hell's Kitchen. If that's not a call to action to all NYC pescatarians I don't know what else could be. Chef and business partner Diego Garcia turns out etherial dishes like Jonah Crab in a bouillabaisse sabayon topped with kohlrabi ($17) and more robust options like the Whole Red Snapper for two ($37) doused in a pickled ramp lobster sauce. Even better: The restaurant sources all of its seafood from Northeast and Atlantic purveyors, working closely with companies like Greenpoint Fish & Lobster Co.—another wonderful place to enjoy a seafood meal—to provide sustainable fish including skate, scallop and bass to diners.
Gloria is located at 401 West 53rd Street in Hell's Kitchen, (212) 956-0709; gloria-nyc.com
SEAMORE'S Now with two locations, Michael Chernow's pivot from Meatball Shop guy to serious fishmonger seems even more evident. What he did for orbed meat, he's doing for seafood: making it accessible and fun to all kinds of diners, even those who might ordinarily skip the sea fare. The menu centers around the "Daily Landings"—a catch of the day special that obviously changes daily—but there are also seared and crispy fish tacos, fish burgers, salads and chowders, and other specials updated daily on the website.
Seamore's has two locations: 390 Broome Street in Nolita, (212) 730-6005 and 161 8th Avenue in Chelsea, (212) 597-9222; seamores.com
ESCA Serving Southern Italian cuisine, Esca is devoted to celebrating the fruits of the sea. Chef David "fish whisperer" Pasternack's seafood expertise is evident in his fresh, minimal crudo dishes, where he employs a dozen varieties of raw fish. Must-eats include Esca's fluke crudo ($22)—or any of their excellent raw preparations, really—and a one-pound lobster ($32) served with mint, chilies and spaghetti.
Esca is located at 402 West 43rd Street in Hell's Kitchen, (212) 564-7272; esca-nyc.com
SUSHI YASUDA: Any number of the city's excellent sushi restaurants could be included on this, but we're opting for Sushi Yasuda here, as it's one of the most celebrated sushi restaurants in the city—and for good reason. Since its founding by sushi master chef Naomichi Yasuda in 1999, the Midtown restaurant has created consistently spectacular raw fish dishes, with an outstanding (if, at $200-plus-per-person, pricey) omakase and a dedication to both quality and tradition unsurpassed by other American sushi eateries. Though Chef Yasuda has since left his New York restaurant to open another spot in Japan, Sushi Yasuda is still as sublime as ever. It's also worth noting that the restaurant has eliminated gratuity in favor of compensating waitstaff with higher salaries and benefits. (Rebecca Fishbein)
Sushi Yasuda is located at 204 East 43rd Street between 2nd and 3rd Ave in Midtown East (212) 972-1001; sushiyasuda.com).
PSARI This Greek restaurant in Astoria—one of part of a stronghold in the neighborhood—offers a seafood lover's bounty of options for those who don't eat meat. Fish soups and bisques; raw clams and oysters; and a parade of fried, broiled or grilled seafood in everything from basic shrimp and scallop to sardines, black sea bass and king crab legs. Portions are huge—and in many cases include the whole fish—and most of the menu's perfect for sharing.
Psari Seafood Restaurant & Bar is located at 32-10 36th Avenue in Astoria, (718) 786-6015; psari-restaurant.com
GRAND CENTRAL OYSTER BAR It's right there in the name: oysters, oysters and more oysters. This iconic Grand Central Terminal eatery will serve them to you raw by the piece—sourced from over a dozen different locales—inside its legendary pan roast; fried with tartare sauce; broiled into Oysters Rockefeller; and even as bloody mary shooters.
Even if you can't jam with bivalves, the Bar serves up pretty much any kind of seafood dish you can imagine. Lobster rolls and salads, smoked trout filets, fish 'n' chips, grilled scallops, rigatoni with shrimp, and bouillabaisse are just a few of the hundreds of seafood permutations available.
Grand Central Oyster Bar is located inside Grand Central Terminal at 89 East 42nd Street, (212) 490-6650; oysterbarny.com
(Melissa Kravitz / Gothamist)
JOHNNY'S REEF If the moment calls for an enormous basket of deep fried calamari with french fries and cole slaw ($13) alongside a $3 Budweiser, then it's to City Island with you, in particular this water-side restaurant on the tip of the island. Everything here is in cheap and plentiful supply, from classic fried clam strips to snow crab legs to baked stuffed clams. Load up on fried fish, hit up the serve yourself condiments bar, and grab a seat overlooking the bay.
Johnny's Reef is located at 2 City Island Avenue on City Island, (718) 885-2086; johnnysreefrestaurant.com. Cash only.
MANDARIN COURT You have to be in-the-know to get the crowning jewel at this Chinatown staple: the off-menu lobster. Order any other entree from the menu—there are dozens of shrimp applications, plus scallops in Szechuan style, fried squid with spicy salt, and clams with black bean sauce—and you'll be able to order two lobsters for $30.
Pick a sauce (scallion and garlic or ginger and scallion are a few options) and they'll deliver two lobsters, chopped up, stir-fried and doused in sauce to your table.
Mandarin Court is located at 61 Mott Street in Chinatown, (212) 608-3838; goldenmandarincourtny.com
ALL HANDS There's a nautical feeling to this newish Williamsburg restaurant that's apparent as soon as you step through the front door. Maybe it's the proximity the East River and the views of the Williamsburg Bridge; or the blue banquettes that make it seem like the ocean; but probably it's the seafood-heavy food you can smell as it wafts through the pretty dining room. Whatever raw preparations they have going are an excellent place to start, but a must-order is the Passatelli Pasta ($24), a big bowl of savory pasta festooned with perfectly-cooked little neck clams doused in Calabrian chili, smoked pecorino cheese and toasted bread crumbs. It's an octane-fueled dose of comfort food right to the face.
All Hands is located at 29 Dunham Place in Williamsburg, (718) 963-0078; allhands.nyc
THE CRABBY SHACK Lobster gets most of the play when it comes to seafood on a bun, but true crustacean lovers know that crab is really where it's at. In fact, some would even argue that crab exceeds lobster in more than just sandwich applications. If you're part of the latter camp, head to this cute Crown Heights seafood cafe to indulge in all things crab, from buttery rolls to enormous king crab legs ready for cracking.
The restaurant's also stuffing tacos, mac and cheese, and grilled cheese with crab, plus making crab cakes and crab and corn chowder. You could also, if you wanted, do a side-by-side-by-side taste test: Crab Roll, Lobster Roll, and Clobster Roll (a mix of both crab and lobster on one bun).
The Crabby Shack is located at 613 Franklin Avenue in Crown Heights, (718) 484-1507; thecrabbyshack.com
UPSTATE You can stop by Upstate for a dozen oysters and a pint or two of craft beer, or you can stay for an evening of larger seafood entrees like their Fettuccine with clams ($16) and Crab Cakes ($14), both favorites of regular diners. The menu changes frequently, but expect unique seafood options like grilled mako shark, marlin crudo with caviar and Idaho brook trout. Check out the chalkboards when you walk in to see what the freshest catch of the day is going to be.
Upstate is located at 95 1st Avenue in the East Village, 917) 408-3395; upstatenyc.com
LURE FISHBAR While not exclusively a sushi restaurant, Lure's the kind of place you go where you want sushi...but extra. Extra like Shazam Rolls ($21) with yellowtail, salmon, avocado, kewpie mayo and wasabi tobiko. Extra like the orgasmic Tempura Shrimp ($21) served with spicy sesame mayo. Extra like Sea Urchin Bucatini ($38) with blue crab, garlic and crushed red pepper. Sure, you can get east and west coast oysters, seafood salad or a spicy big eye tuna roll, but when there's a Caviar Service with American sturgeon ($65 per ounce) and brioche toast, why would you? The sexy, subterranean space is designed to look like the interior of some playboy's yacht, so you can feel like you're out at sea just a few steps down from Mercer Street.
Lure Fishbar is located at 142 Mercer Street in SoHo, (212) 431-7676; lurefishbar.com
Lobster "Escargot" (Facebook)
MERMAID INN Now boasting a trio of Manhattan restaurants, Mermaid Inn was an early adopter of the seafood-friendly menu—with a touch of meat on the side. For one thing, they take their oysters very seriously, even going so far as to create an app that helps diners navigate the waters of oyster selection. Then there are the plentiful fish options, from Smoked Tuna Dip ($13) and Lobster Knuckles "Escargot Style" ($15) to Capellini Pasta with crawfish ($24) and Grilled Whole Fish ($28) with ramp chimichurri (note that menus change location-to-location and also seasonally).
They also boast one of the best happy hours for eating in the city, with $1 raw clams and oysters, Shrimp & Avocado Sliders ($7.50) and even a Shrimp Corndog ($3).
Mermaid Inn has locations in the East Village, Greenwich Village and the Upper West Side; themermaidnyc.com
FLEX MUSSELS Fragrant, steaming pots filled to the brim with mussels and all manner of different cooking broths await at this duo of restaurants dedicated to the molluscs. Take a long look at the list of possible flavorings—which include the classic white wine, herbs and garlic ($25) to more involved creations like the Bangkok with jalapeno, cilantro, ginger, scallions and coconut milk ($27)—before settling on what kind of bath your bivalves will be taking. And while many of the options are meat-free, do note that some contain things like bacon, prosciutto and other pork products, so be sure to confirm with the staff before you place an order.
The restaurants also prepare non-mussel seafood creations, including fried oysters, fish tacos and a lobster roll.
Flex Mussels has two locations: 174 East 82nd Street on the Upper East Side, (212) 717-7772, and 154 West 13th Street in the West Village, (212) 229-0222; flexmussels.com
Luke's Lobster The now stalwart roll slingers are almost everywhere in Manhattan, with locations in Brooklyn, Maine, Boston, DC and even Japan. Their known for the Lobster Roll, but they make great crab rolls and clam chowder, too.
Russ & Daughters Speaking of stalwart, there are few shops as respected as this Houston Street one, especially when it comes to smoked, cured and pickled fish and fish products. Their cafe is also excellent.
Le Bernardin If you can afford it, it's a must-visit.
Marea Same here.
Greenpoint Fish & Lobster Co. As mentioned above, this is both a shop for super fresh, sustainable seafood, as well as a restaurant serving said fish.
Littleneck Now with a trio of seafood-friendly spots are great for a casual meal of seafood rolls or the cream sauced clams from which the restaurant gets its name.