No matter where you are in the United States — even in the most remote regions — tasty seafood options aren't far away. Once you decide to forgo the national chains, get off the beaten path, and take a chance on some local favorites, you'll have the chance to reel in the greatest food the sea has to offer.
Diners at The Place sit on tree stumps instead of chairs and listen to the crackle of clams roasting on an open fire — seasonally. The Place has roots dating back to open-air Connecticut clambakes in the 1940s, and the tradition continues with a wood-sign seafood menu that starts at $5 (for a half-dozen shrimp) and tops out at $17 for everything except lobster.
In the Jacksonville area, you can and must visit Safe Harbor. The restaurant serves up fresh, local seafood, some caught during deep-sea dives, in a sometimes stunning waterfront setting.
Locally owned and operated for 40 years, The Shrimp Factory stands out even in its hometown, the seafood mecca of Savannah. There's no shortage of locals who believe the place is haunted, but even more who come back anyway for the fine dining restaurant's relatively affordable menu.
Middendorf's has been in this town just north of New Orleans since 1934, serving celebrities from football's Manning family to the Prince of Monaco. The restaurant's speciality is thin catfish, but since you're in Louisiana, there are also local specialties such as frog legs.
Maine is more closely associated with lobster than any other place on Earth, so it's hard to pick one seafood house as best. The understated Billy's Chowder House, however, makes a strong argument with its Famous Platter — a full pound of fresh-caught seafood for $30. And its chowders and stews are meals by themselves.
Streetside Seafood is dedicated almost solely to the sea (and a bit to rivers and streams), with only five land-based menu items (including a green salad and coleslaw). Look for four types of oysters, soups of lobster, crab, and clam, as well as pricier entrées from whitefish to lobster.
Minnesota is known as the Land of 10,000 Lakes — and some of the best stuff to come out of those lakes winds up on the tables of the Sea Salt Eatery. Baskets include catfish, oysters, shrimp, and fish, and there's also a full po' boy menu, seafood tacos, and soft-shell crabs.
On the waters of Bayou Bernard, Tasty Tails continues a delicious tradition dating back decades and is still drawing locals devoted to its “to-die-for” shrimp, crab, and crawfish. It is located in the former home of the Blow Fly Inn, which started in 1955 and was once featured on "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.”
How can the coastal seafood at Peacemaker taste so fresh? The answer: A fresh catch is flown in every day. A 130-year-old stone oyster trough is the focal point of the establishment, which serves up lobster as Frito pie as well as in rolls and boils.
New Hampshire is in lobster country, and Newick's excels at crustacean cuisine. Founded in 1948 by the family that still runs the place, Newick's offers three dishes for land lovers -- but the rest of the menu comes from the water, including "lobstahs" and "chowdah."
Sure, being featured on "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives" raised the profile of The Anchorage Restaurant — but locals didn't need any convincing. The tavern has been a Somers Point staple for more than a century, and New Jerseyans have watched it evolve into one of the most lauded eateries in the state.
More than 20 years ago, a husband and wife brought south-of-the-border seafood to Santa Fe from their home country of Mexico when they opened Mariscos la Playa. The restaurant won Best of Santa Fe in the seafood category for 12 consecutive years, offering diners dozens of fresh and authentic options.
Plenty of train stations have bars and restaurants for commuters, but few are considered the best of their genre in the entire city — especially when that city is New York, one of the world's true restaurant meccas. Grand Central Oyster Bar has delighted travelers, tourists, and locals since 1913 with some of the freshest and best seafood in a unique setting.
As a coastal state, North Carolina has plenty of seafood restaurants. Few are as authentic and fresh as the Waterfront Seafood Shack. It’s located right on the water and the company has its own fishing boats. This humble little eatery earns high praise from diners and has been pulling fans back in for decades.
The Youngstown Crab Co. boasts of "the best legs in town" — crab legs, that is. High-profile accolades and a fiercely loyal following suggest they might just be the best in Ohio. A huge selection of finfish, lobster, and surf-and-turf options round out the menu.
The City of Brotherly Love is one of the world's great restaurant cities, but even in Philadelphia, Luke's Lobster stands out. The cozy BYOB joint, steps away from historic Rittenhouse Square, has sustainable seafood in lobster rolls, crab rolls, shrimp rolls, and an assortment of bisques, chowders, and other soups.
Few states scream great seafood as loudly as Rhode Island — and the Matunuck Oyster Bar might be the loudest. The restaurant's motto is "farm to table and pond to plate," and that concept is evident not only in its sizable raw bar, but in dishes such as the restaurant's famous lobster rolls.
A legendary seafood dive, Whaley's spices things up with live music and karaoke. The cheap but plentiful menu offers exciting options such as select-grade oysters, mussels Mediterranean, firefly flounder, shrimp grits, and a bunch of fried options.
The most legendary city in South Dakota — and perhaps the most iconic of the Old West — is Deadwood. Its Oyster Bay was a legend before being featured on the Travel Channel. Famous for its oyster shooters, Oyster Bay fosters a raucous atmosphere complete with live music and karaoke.
Its website is a late-'90s throwback. Its catering truck looks like a Los Angeles street food cart. Its most famous dish is a whiting fish sandwich. It's Ed's Fish House, the gold standard for seafood in Nashville since 1972. Not convinced? Go to Nashville and ask the locals.
New England has no shortage of amazing seafood houses, but the White Cottage in Woodstock has lobster salad rolls and whole belly clams that keep the crowds coming back, 30 flavors of ice cream to end the meal, and seasonal swims in the Ottauquechee River flowing past.
In the heart of the Seattle Fishermen's Terminal, which houses more than 700 fishing vessels and has served as the heart of the North Pacific fishing fleet for more than 100 years, Chinook's at Salmon Bay serves seafood that lives up to the history. Many dishes are under $20; an occasional indulgence — such as roasted garlic crab — nears $50.
Wyoming is cattle country, and Nora's Fish Creek Inn is one of the few spots where seafood muscles out beef. A staple in Wilson since its founding in 1982, the restaurant has gone on to television fame thanks to "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives," and even won a prestigious James Beard Award.