The Best Seafood Restaurants In NYC

Fish markets, BYOBs, and high-end spots with individually priced shrimp.
Grilled shrimp topped with diced pineapple and cilantro.

photo credit: Melissa Hom

You know that big blue expanse you see when you’re sitting in the sand at Rockaway Beach? That’s the ocean. In case you forgot, NYC is a coastal town, and it’s a great place to eat fish. Across the five boroughs, you’ll find all sorts of seafood spots—Italian, Mexican, Cantonese, and more—in addition to a single Bubba Gump Shrimp. Skip that restaurant, but try these ones. 

Looking for sushi? We have a guide for that as well.


photo credit: Alex Staniloff



$$$$Perfect For:Drinking Good CocktailsHappy Hour
Earn 3x points with your sapphire card

If you—like us—dream of drowning in ceviche, head to Ensenada. The Williamsburg Mexican seafood oasis works for just about any occasion—a third date, a solo Happy Hour at the bar, your dad’s birthday—so long as your fellow diners are ready to ceviche-submerge, too. Order all three types of aguachile, both the saucy shrimp and crispy fish tacos, and a couple of rounds of mezcal margaritas. It’s a low-key spot where you can usually walk in without a reservation, grab a seat in a blue booth, and then eat more seafood in one sitting than you have in the past few years.

Every time we get a shrimp cocktail, we’re a little disappointed in ourselves. Those three shrimp were nice, but were they really worth more than a movie ticket? At Penny in the East Village, the Argentinian shrimp are a finger long, a little sweet, and they cost $4.50 each. We ordered three more immediately after the first round. The high quality raw stuff at this 31-seat seafood counter from the Claud team—including oysters, clams, and mussels—can be sampled in the Ice Box, Penny’s take on the seafood tower. But it’s only a teaser. Follow it with a dinner of stuffed squid, bone marrow sole, and oyster roast with puff pastry.

Dry-aged branzino tastes better when roasted in a charcoal oven and served in a beige room best described as desert chic. For a casual night out with lots of smoky flavors and very fine ceramics, choose Theodora. At this Fort Greene spot from the team that brought you Miss Ada, fish is the focus, and the menu leans Mediterranean, with unexpected twists. Eat some toro served on lavash, and wood-fired prawns with pineapple pico de gallo. Reservations are hard to come by, but there are a few tables and plenty of bar seats saved for walk-ins.

At Chuan Tian Xia, the fish breathe fire. You’ll see a lot of whole fish here, like groupers and tilapias, skin on with their mouths agape, sitting in a menacing red chili oil or pickled yellow broth. This Sichuan spot in Sunset Park is known for their big, shareable trays of Wanzhou grilled fish, which you can get with hot, numbing, or a mild tomato broth and any number of other hot pot toppings like enoki mushroom, noodles, and sweet potato. Coming with a group and a strong gut is ideal, but if we’re only with one other person, we’re just as excited to eat the fish fileted and boiled in their addicting green pepper stew instead. 

British seafood isn’t just fish and chips. At Dame in Greenwich Village, it also means whitefish salad, tuna tartare on toast, and grilled morels stuffed with shrimp. The roughly 30-seat restaurant (with more tables outside) is relatively casual, but their food is not. Start with the charred squid skewers, then explore other small plates like the broiled oysters and raw scallops with uni. If you have room after that, there’s also, yes, fish and chips. Prime-time reservations are elusive, but there are usually a few early and late time slots available.

This Bushwick restaurant comes from the people behind one of our favorite taquerias, Taqueria Al Pastor, but it’s strictly a seafood spot. The menu only has three tacos: fish, shrimp, and their outstanding taco enchilados, which are a cheesy mix of shrimp and hot sauce so good, they’ll make you want to come back once a week. But don’t eat them on their own—Antojito’s specialties are their aguachiles and ceviches. 

For your next anniversary, book a table at Le Bernardin. The Midtown fine-dining staple serves a bit of filet mignon here and there, but otherwise it’s pretty much all seafood. Whether you get the $325 chef’s tasting or the $210 prix fixe, you’re going to eat a procession of immaculately plated items like thinly pounded yellowfin tuna, langoustine with foie gras, and planks of halfway-cooked salmon. The service is flawless, the wine list is extensive, and the carpeted dining room is typically filled with high-net-worth individuals.

Quique Crudo only seats around 20 at a bar and a few small counters. From the people behind Casa Enrique, the walk-in-only spot has very little elbow room, and yet there always seems to be an open stool. This is the rare West Village establishment that hasn't been hyped to death, and it’s a fun place to pop in for an impeccable margarita and an ultra-tart ceviche served with thick homemade tostadas. The snack-sized dishes aren’t exactly cost effective—a meal for one can easily run you $100—but that’s a given when it comes to quality seafood.

What’s the temperature outside? If it’s above 59 degrees, you should know that’s technically referred to as “Johnny's Reef weather.” Get in a car (or hop on a bus) and make your way to this City Island institution, where you can dive into a pile of fried shrimp on a sprawling concrete patio near the water. Order in the indoor area that’s set up like a food hall with counters offering steamed and fried clams, scallops, lobster tails and more, and pair everything with a Henny Colada in a little plastic cup.

Plan a group meal at Wu’s Wonton King on the border of Chinatown and the Lower East Side. The room is festive with big round tables, and it’s always packed with people who appreciate a BYOB policy and quality Cantonese seafood. Obviously start with the wonton soup, then try some fried lobster, walnut shrimp, and cold jellyfish. A whole suckling pig is also a good choice, but you’ll have to order it a few days in advance.

From the people behind Hart’s and The Fly, Cervo’s is where you can eat Spanish and Portuguese seafood while you take in a candlelit scene. The narrow room is perpetually busy, and the menu has a lot of small plates, like manilla clams, mussels escabeche, and crispy shrimp heads. No matter what you get, take advantage of the interesting Spanish and Portuguese wine list.

Astoria Seafood combines a BYOB experience with the thrills of grocery shopping. In the back of the cafeteria-like room, you’ll find displays of sea bass, shrimp, squid, and more arranged over ice. Choose what you want—six sardines and a branzino, for example—then bag it yourself, and tell the kitchen how you’d like it cooked (grilled is never a bad idea). To supplement, there are also some Greek sides available, like spanakopita and lemon potatoes. 

Abuqir is similar to Astoria Seafood, with a few key differences: it’s Egyptian, and there isn't much seating. If you’re making a decision between the two based on food alone, you should know that it’s slightly better here. This Astoria spot makes incredible grilled shrimp, Egyptian-style whole fish, and olive oil-soaked baba ganoush. The room is bright, with a handful of tables, and it’s as casual as it gets.

There are six locations of Los Tacos No. 1 around town, but, for some reason, there’s only one Los Mariscos. This counter-service spot tucked into the side of Chelsea Market is from the same team, and it serves fantastic fish tacos, ceviche, and aguachile. There’s a bit of seating inside, in addition to some sidewalk tables where you can camp out and drink a margarita when the weather’s nice.

photo credit: Marea



SevenRooms logo

Across the street from Central Park, Marea specializes in housemade pastas accessorized with lobster, shrimp, and other ingredients that were recently dragged from the sea. The theme here is coastal Italian, and the offerings—from the crudi to the whole langoustines that run around $30 per piece—are almost exclusively oceanic. Get the jumbo lump crab casarecce, and don’t miss out on the fusilli with octopus and bone marrow. This place is perfect for a big night out, but it’s also great for a meal in the daytime when the mood is more relaxed.

When you get the urge to spend every dime in your posession on raw bar items, head to Principe in Soho. The bi-level spot pairs skylights, chandeliers, and velvet couches with inventive bites of pistachio-accented scallops and prawns with jalapeño sauce. Somewhere between Italian and American, the restaurant also serves a few different pastas and some great olive-crusted branzino. It’s pricey—with mains starting around $47—but you're going to have a memorable meal.

It’s been too long since you visited Grand Central Oyster Bar. We get it—subjecting yourself to a Grand Central Terminal visit without a train to catch feels wrong. But underneath all the tourists staring obliviously at the celestial ceilings lies Grand Central Oyster Bar, the cavernous seafood spot where you should eat raw oysters at least once a year. Order a dirty martini, skip the rest of the menu—except for the clam chowder—and let whoever’s shucking decide on your dozen. It’s a NYC institution, and the couple at the table next to you have been coming here for around 50 years to eat the catch of the day.

There are a lot of places to eat raw seafood in NYC, but not many of them are so close to the water that you could eat a raw clam and then throw your shell into the sea. Except for Randazzo’s, a Sheepshead Bay staple that’s been open since 1932. Although it shines in the summer after a long day at Brighton Beach when you are too sunburnt and too sandy to do anything except eat, we’ve also visited in February to slurp clams and pretend we are in Florida. They’re famous for their fried calamari, which is served with homemade marinara sauce, but a visit to Randazzo’s isn’t complete without a full spread—think dozens of raw bivalves, and big platters of seafood pasta.

Chase Sapphire Card Ad

Suggested Reading


The Best Oyster Happy Hours In NYC

Our favorite spots for discounted shellfish.

The Best Tacos In NYC image

Where to eat exceptional birria, unforgettable suadero, and fish tacos that rival the ones on the West Coast.

The Best Lobster Rolls In NYC image

Where to get a lobster roll that's actually worth the money.

Infatuation Logo


2024 © The Infatuation Inc. All Rights Reserved.
The views and opinions expressed on The Infatuation’s site and other platforms are those of the authors and do not reflect the official policy or position of (or endorsement by) JPMorgan Chase. The Infatuation and its affiliates assume no responsibility or liability for the content of this site, or any errors or omissions. The Information contained in this site is provided on an "as is" basis with no guarantees of completeness, accuracy, usefulness or timeliness.


Get it on Google PlayDownload on the App Store