ATLGuide

The 14 Best Seafood Restaurants In Atlanta

These are our favorite places to slurp oysters, drown crab claws in butter, and eat seafood so fresh we wonder if Atlanta is hiding an ocean nearby.
A food spread of oysters, fish dishes, and a lobster roll.

photo credit: Cameren Rogers

Atlanta is a solid four hour drive from the ocean. And we’re certainly not trusting anything coming out of Lake Lanier. Though we aren’t exactly known as a seafood city, we do love our aquatic foods, as evidenced by the number of crab shack chains that’ve tripled in the last few years. So yeah, our fresh-catches are flown in, but there are still plenty of Atlanta restaurants where the fish is flaky and the oysters are slurp-worthy. Here are the 14 best spots for a seafood feast.

THE SPOTS

photo credit: Courtesy of C&S

Seafood

Vinings

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C&S Oyster Bar in Vinings serves excellent seafood classics, which explains why this place has been Atlanta's go-to fish spot since it opened nearly two decades ago. The black and white photos and art deco light fixtures feel nostalgic for an era when old-money types would slurp oysters and martinis with reckless abandon. Come for a business lunch, and get the lobster roll with crispy shoestring fries. For dinner, the daily fish specials (think crab-stuffed grouper or soy-chili sea bass) always prove to be the best order at the table.

photo credit: Amy Sinclair

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Seafood restaurants are generally good choices for date nights, but Buckhead's Snap Thai Fish House is our ace in the hole since the setting is as impressive as the food. The crisp, bright space is filled with big windows, gold rod benches, and dangling shapes that look like a school of fish. The coastal Thai menu isn't long and imposing, but that won’t stop the tempting roster of soups, starters, and sustainable catches from making you squirm in indecision. Just get the shrimp and scallop pasta bursting with basil and bell peppers or a chilean sea bass that pairs tremendously with massaman curry.

The giant 90-foot tall fish sculpture outside of this Buckhead seafood restaurant acts like a beacon to all who love fish and a little gaudiness. Come to this pillared, multilevel dining room to eat reliably good platters of fried scallops and shrimp, jumbo crab cakes, and Hong Kong-style halibut in a sherry soy rice bowl. Fish options are flown in daily, and you’d be hard-pressed to find anywhere else in town that offers a wider variety of seafood. Atlanta Fish Market may no longer hold the see-and-be-seen status it previously held for decades, but eating here can still rival the fine seafood houses of any coastal city.

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Their genius pairing of tater tots topped with caviar isn’t the only reason we love this Midtown spot that earned a place on our Best New Restaurants of 2023 list. We’re also obsessed with the rest of their Amalfi Coast-inspired menu. The relaxed dining area and outdoor patio with white umbrellas make you feel like you want to stay a few hours and move through multiple courses. Start with oysters, then get our favorite crudo—tender chunks of  swordfish topped with lemon aioli. But the main reason we're here is for the must-get mussels with a soffrito sauce that should be sopped up with thick slices of bread. After that it’s your choice of white fish entrees and a few more glasses of wine. If you can ignore the chaos happening in the Trader Joes parking lot, it’s almost like you’re in Amalfi.

photo credit: Johnny Autry

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Since it opened in 2012, The Optimist has established itself as one of the premier spots for oysters in Atlanta. So it’s kind of an unwritten rule to get some when you come. But if raw, salty bivalves isn’t your thing, there are plenty of other fish in the sea. We’re talking thick swordfish cuts cooked in duck fat, a whole flounder doused in lemon, and a buttery lobster roll on a brioche bun. The dining room is massive, but it gets packed around dinner time so reservations are a good idea. Aside from serving excellent dishes, this West Midtown spot is one of the most well-known Atlanta seafood institutions so you should hit it at least once just to say you’ve been.

photo credit: Tabia S. Lisenbee-Parker

We’ve eaten meals on planes that had more elbow room than this tiny Poncey-Highland seafood spot, but you won’t find a blackened grouper sandwich packed with this much spicy char anywhere else in the city. Fishmonger specializes in fish sandwiches ranging from lobster rolls to a fresh (not-canned) tuna melt, which is served cold despite the melted cheese stuck to hearty sourdough bread. And their seafood chowder and citrus-sprinkled ceviches are just as good as the bready dishes. Order at the counter and fight for one of the 10 or 12 seats inside the cramped room. Luckily you don't need tons of space to eat oysters and chow down on the city’s best fish sandwiches.

photo credit: Shaun Wolfson

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We feel borderline inappropriate rapidly devouring wood-fire-grilled octopus on Kyma’s white linen-covered tables. But it's easy to forget your surroundings—the giant ornate white pillars and posh international business groups—because that’s just how good the seafood is at this Greek restaurant in Buckhead. The tender octopus, garnished with olives and red onions, is simply the best we’ve had in this landlocked city. Throw in some entrees like the light and flaky whole fagri or lemon-heavy halibut and you’ve got yourself a great seafood meal.

photo credit: Amy Sinclair

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Since Bully Boy opened off the Eastside BeltLine trail behind Two Urban Licks in 2018, it’s offered Atlantans a relaxed, Japanese seafood spot that does a little bit of everything. Start by slurping down a dozen Blue Point oysters before you move onto a couple of sushi rolls (we like the Godzilla roll with spicy salmon) and flaky red snapper or scallops over creamy risotto. Because they do many things well, bring a few friends so you can order more kaiseki-style plates.

It would be easy to dismiss this oyster and seafood spot as the second-rate version of The Optimist since Beetlecat is their more casual, more affordable sister restaurant. It’s mostly because the nautical-themed decor can give off a questionable cruise ship vibe. Yet there’s still a lot to love about Beetlecat’s great seafood options. For starters, the Inman Park spot’s oysters are nice and briny, the lime-drizzled ceviche tastes like the fish was caught that day, and the moqueca stew has a hearty broth and plenty of shrimp and fish bits. But the real reason we go to this seafood restaurant is for their lobster roll, served on a buttery hamburger bun with chunks of lobster meat the size of a peach. And yes, we do like their version better than Optimist's roll (gasp).

For a speedy seafood meal that doesn’t cut corners on quality, this is one of the best fast-casual spots in the A. They offer great fried fish, simple sides like corn muffins and yellow corn grits, and housemade seltzers all in a counter-service dining room. Start with the creamy new england chowder served in a mug (taking the phrase “good enough to drink” to new heights). Then move on any of the fish sandwiches, which is what this place does best. The crispy cod sandwich has such massive slices of the white fish that each piece hangs over the sides of the bread, and pickles and a vinegary slaw keep any dryness at bay.

Every inch of available wall space at this multilevel Midtown seafood institution has bits and baubles you’d find at a flea market (old license plates, random black and white photos, large fish statues etc.). The pub charm makes cracking a pile of crab legs all the more appealing. Delicious fried seafood baskets, an unmissable lobster bisque, and low-salinity oysters are their seafood triple threat. But what really keeps us coming back is the massive patio and small-town atmosphere we seldom find in the busy city center. Regulars who’ve been coming here for decades swap stories with their favorite bartenders, while first-timers join the club with a sip of a fruity Goombay Smash.

Don’t let the down-home aesthetics deter you from scarfing down a meal at Fontaine’s—this dive bar fills a void for Atlantans who want to eat legit seafood in an uber-casual environment. All the usual dive bar trappings are present (low lighting, dark wood paneling, and creaky booths that’ve seen better days). But the owners of this VaHi spot went a step further and stuffed the menu with a variety of underwater things too. Since it’s an oyster house, start with a dozen (props if you wanna shoot for 48). Then move on to dishes like creamy lobster mac and cheese, perfectly crispy fried grouper, and blackened salmon. When a dribble of seafood gumbo trickles down your chin, it’s a surprise to find a heavy duty cloth napkin rolled and ready for use.

Stepping off the BeltLine isn’t as fun as stepping off the beach. But when Atlanta temps soar, we head to this bungalow joint just off the Eastside Trail and pretend there’s sand. Breaker Breaker technically sits in Inman Park and has a menu stuffed with seafood favorites like the well-seasoned blackened grouper sandwich and fried shrimp and fish platters. These are best enjoyed out on the narrow patio, which overlooks the BeltLine foot traffic. On those days when raw-dogging the ATL sun seems perilous, sit inside where you can still catch a breeze from the windows that open to allow walk-up bar service from the patio. This isn’t the place to come for high-grade bluefin tuna or premium caviar, but for cheesy fish melts or a spicy Cajun shrimp boil with a view, it’s a solid seafood stop.

This seafood restaurant sits in the outdated shopping plaza above the old Howell Mill Walmart that a shopper arsoned into non-existence. But our moms were onto something when they said, “It’s what’s on the inside that counts.” Because inside, Sea Salt’s sleek baby-blue leather booths, faux marble-topped tables, and jazzy neon lights set the tone for a fun, upbeat meal of pretty good seafood. At night, salmon with a nice char comes with a side of hookah smoke and a bumping soundtrack from a DJ (there’s an elevated DJ booth just off the dining area). But we usually come during the more relaxed daylight hours to dive into their cheesy Sea Salt Dip with huge chunks of lobster and shrimp.

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A food spread of oysters, scallops, and grouper.
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