The Best Seafood Markets In Boston
photo credit: Karolina Wiercigroch
Whether the pandemic has led you to cook more, or you’re finally facing your fear of shucking an oyster, one thing’s clear about preparing seafood at home - you have to start with a good product. And to not do so in New England would almost be sacrilegious. So the next time you’re looking for a whole red snapper to throw on the grill, or for some clams to use as an excuse to drink wine, here are the best seafood markets to turn to.
Looking for some meat instead? Head over to our guide to The Best Butcher Shops In Boston.
The Seafood Markets
Located inside the Boston Public Market, Red’s Best intentionally supports New England fishermen throughout its supply chain, which means lots of seasonally-appropriate products like swordfish in the summer and redfish in the winter. While Red’s does ship nationally for free (lobster tails for Christmas, Mom?), we prefer to stop in at the Public Market since there’s a kitchen on-site. Being able to eat and grocery shop at the same time is a great thing, especially when it involves clam chowder for lunch and scallops and mussels for dinner.
If you happen to live in Union Square, commuting to Red’s Best at the Boston Public Market can be somewhat challenging. You could wait a few more years for the Green Line extension to be completed, or you could just head over to Hooked at Bow Market instead. This small store stocks seafood from Red’s, as well as smoked products from the Boston Smoked Fish Company. Poke bowls and shucked oysters are also available for takeout, which would go nicely with some wine from Rebel Rebel or beer from Remnant, both of which are also located in the same complex.
We’re not sure if Roosevelt’s economic stimulus plan involved sea beams or skate wings, but there’s plenty of both at this Cambridge seafood market. They’ve been open since 1928, and they’re still at it with a great selection of fillets and whole fish. Plus, they’ve got a nicely curated pantry section of rice, pasta, olive oil, and tinned seafood. Every time we’ve visited, the fishmongers have happily provided us with recipes and cooking tips too. That’s particularly useful if you’re anything like us - clueless on all things related to skate wings.
Courthouse Seafood is a block away from New Deal Fish Market, and it’s been open since 1912. That means East Cambridge was quite the seafood hotspot in the early part of the 20th century - you might have had a hard time finding alcohol back then, but it sounds like mussels were falling out of the sky. Courthouse differentiates itself from New Deal by also having a restaurant next door (which serves fish and chips, chowder, and… fried chicken?), and a selection of linguiça from the owner’s Portuguese homeland. But otherwise, Courthouse offers a similarly great selection of whole fish, fillets, and pantry staples.
Burke’s Seafood in Quincy is both a seafood market and a counter-service restaurant, with prepared food items like fried seafood platters and lobster mac and cheese. If you prefer to make a quick meal at home, Burke’s sells frozen, oven-ready entrees too, like shrimp scampi and haddock pie. As an added bonus, Burke’s is also located by a whole host of bubble tea spots - feel free to use that information as you please.
Alive & Kicking has one of the best lobster rolls around. Well, technically it’s a lobster sandwich, but we’re not trying to be the gluten police. As their name implies, Alive & Kicking also sells live lobsters year-round, along with other things like salmon, clams, and scallops. Additionally, you can call ahead and get whole steamed crustaceans to go - we’re guessing pick up is at the Dead & Still window around back.
At Kim’s in Dorchester, there’s a large bin filled with ice and various kinds of whole fish, from red snapper to yellow tail, all for sale at reasonable prices. It’s truly an oasis for, um, afishionados. If you happen to be one of those, but you’re intimidated by the prospect of cooking one whole, Kim’s sells fillets and other shellfish too. They also have frozen conch available, and we’d highly recommend perfecting conch fritters for your next pandemic project.
For your next sushi night at home, make some of your own rolls and chirashi bowls with seafood from Sakayana. This small store in Newton specializes in sushi grade-fish, with some of their products being flown in from Japan. There’s also a small pantry section with essentials like wasabi, soy sauce, and mirin. If you’d rather roll up in a blanket than roll nori right now, we get it - Sakayana conveniently also has a small menu of sashimi and sushi to go.
99 is a large grocery store in Malden that stocks a lot of our favorite things: matcha Hello Pandas, douhua, and dark soy sauce. None of those things are related to the sea, but there is a whole corner of the store dedicated to seafood, with tanks of live fish and crustaceans to go along with fillets on ice. Plus, it’s one of the few places we know of where you can buy geoducks, and there’s also a large selection of fish and other seafood balls for soup. Sure, there are a number of other Asian supermarkets around, but for the wide selection of seafood and ease of parking, 99 is one of our favorites.
In the early ’90s, the founder of Island Creek was supposedly farming quahog clams. Trying to determine exactly how a quahog was different from a steamer led us down a clam-sized hole on YouTube - a snapshot of a day in the life at The Infatuation. It also reminded us that we prefer oysters anyway, and thankfully those harvested from Island Creek can be ordered year-round. Those bivalves can also be shipped nationwide for free, and we can’t think of a more New England-y gift for your friends and family.
Apparently the Pine River is located in New Hampshire, which is confusing since this seafood market is located right off Route 60 in Revere. Then again, the Jazz play in Utah, so maybe location isn’t that important after all. In any case, this bare bones spot has been selling seafood to the surrounding communities for decades. Most of the fish is in fillet form (so look elsewhere if you need the whole catch), and they’ve also got a couple of tanks filled with lobster. Just be sure to double check the GPS before you visit - you don’t want to end up in Zion National Park.