You'll Be Hooked: 20 Amazing Seafood Shacks Across America

The Crab Shack, Tybee Island

The Crab Shack/Yelp

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The Crab Shack, Tybee Island
The Crab Shack/Yelp

Dockside Dining

It's summertime and you need this: the freshest catch from the sea and an ice cold beer from a charming dockside seafood shack. There's no shortage of low-key and friendly joints serving impossibly delicious and unapologetically indulgent eats — from super-fresh oysters to fried shrimp to buttery lobster rolls. From coast to coast, we've highlighted 20 of America's most beloved sea- and lake-side eateries to visit this season and even what to order.

Related: The Best Seafood Restaurant in Every State

Abbott's Lobster in the Rough, Noank, Connecticut
Amanda V./Yelp

Abbott's Lobster in the Rough

Noank, Connecticut
What to order: Hot lobster roll

If it's Connecticut-style clear broth clam chowder and low steamed lobster rolls you're seeking, Abbott's Lobster in the Rough has been serving up both piping hot for more than half a century. If you've never had a hot lobster roll before, you'll want to head to this counter-service, BYOB restaurant for a loaded and meaty roll drenched in melted butter on a toasted bun. You can also take in views of Long Island Sound and the Mystic River from picnic tables dotting the rocky waterfront. Check out their website for a countdown of time remaining until they serve their last lobster of the season, so you won't miss out.

Related: Regional Seafood Chains the Rest of the Country Needs

The Wreck of Richard and Charlene, Mount Pleasant, South Carolina

The Wreck of Richard and Charlene

Mount Pleasant, South Carolina
What to order: Award-winning fried shrimp

The Wreck of Richard and Charlene — named after a North Atlantic-style trawler shipwrecked by Hurricane Hugo in 1989 — is a shack-like, no frills seafood restaurant overlooking Shem Creek. You can't expect air conditioning, fancy dishware, or reservations, but you can count on the best fried shrimp you've ever consumed. The seafood here is fresh and local: grilled or fried fish, scallops, fried oysters, deviled crab, and that award-winning fried shrimp.

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Iggy's Doughboys & Chowder House, Warwick, Rhode Island

Iggy's Doughboys & Chowder House

Warwick and Narragansett, Rhode Island
What to order: Clam chowder and stuffed quahogs (local clams)

While its flagship shack in Warwick has been modernized, Iggy's Doughboys & Chowder House, a Rhode Island landmark as well as the oldest beach stand in the state, has stayed loyal to its traditional recipes since opening in 1989. A second, seasonal chowder house opened in 2000 on the shores of Narragansett. Both locations dish up the local favorites: award-winning chowder, deep-fried clam cakes, stuffed quahogs (regional hard-shelled clams baked with bread stuffing), and doughboys (square sugared doughnuts without holes).

Bowpicker Fish & Chips, Astoria, Oregon

Bowpicker Fish & Chips

Astoria, Oregon
What to order: Beer-battered albacore tuna and steak fries

Located across from the Columbia River Maritime Museum in a converted gillnet boat, Bowpicker Fish & Chips prepares downright divine albacore tuna fish-and-chips — and that's it. Climb the stairs up to the boat to place your order from the cabin. The cash-only fishing boat eatery serves portions of three or five pieces of lightly beer-battered and fried albacore tuna on a bed of thick steak fries alongside malt vinegar and scoops of tartar sauce. Grab a drink from the cooler and enjoy your meal across the street next to the Columbia River.  

Da Poke Shack, Kailua, Hawaii
Safina H./Yelp

Da Poke Shack

Kailua, Hawaii
What to order: Pele's Kiss spicy poke

Da Poke Shack, a tiny takeout-style seafood spot housed within a condo complex on Hawaii's Big Island, is known for its eponymous poke bowls and plates featuring a variety of locally caught, raw ahi tuna and regionally inspired side dishes and rice. You'll also find fresh shrimp, tako, and traditional lau lau and kalua pulled pork dishes. Go with the spicy Pele's Kiss poke with a side of refreshing wakame seaweed salad, and get some cut-fresh-to-order sashimi while you wait. It's a popular spot, so get here early for the widest variety of poke options before they sell out for the day (they never serve yesterday's poke). Don't worry about the shop's limited outdoor seating; just take your order to a nearby beach or park.

Related: The Best of Hawaii on a Budget

Sea-N-Suds Restaurant & Oyster Bar, Gulf Shores, Alabama
Shannon S./Yelp

Sea-N-Suds Restaurant & Oyster Bar

Gulf Shores, Alabama
What to order: Fried shrimp and oysters or spicy gumbo

Alabama beachgoers favor Sea-N-Suds Restaurant & Oyster Bar, a long-time seafood shack that's right on the sand, mere steps away from the Gulf of Mexico. Soak up the sunsets and the crashing waves while dining on their specialty gumbo, steamed shrimp, fried crab claws and oysters, and other seafood platters and sandwiches with a cold drink on this rustic joint's outside deck.

Calumet Fisheries, Chicago

Calumet Fisheries

What to order: Pepper-and-garlic smoked salmon or fried smelts

A little family-owned smoke shack that opened on Chicago's South Side in the 1940s, Calumet Fisheries once fed hungry day laborers from the city's once-thriving steel industry. Today, the takeout-only seafood shack next to a drawbridge is one of the only smokehouses left in Chicago that smokes fish naturally over a wood fire, a disappearing art. Once featured on Anthony Bourdain's "No Reservations," it's famous for churning out fried and bold, oak-smoked shrimp, salmon, trout, catfish, and sable by the pound — all of which you can eat while gazing out at the river barges from the hood of your car. Add a side of fried smelts or frog legs while you're at it.

Fishing with Dynamite
Tracy Y./Yelp

Fishing with Dynamite

Manhattan Beach, California
What to order: Peruvian scallops or seafood rolls

The oyster-focused seafood cafe and cocktail bar Fishing with Dynamite operates on a seasonal menu that changes at the whim of chef and co-owner David Le Fevre. On a hill overlooking Manhattan Beach, the vibrant eatery's raw bar offers oysters on the half shell and an assortment of chilled shellfish platters like The Mothershucker (oysters, clams, shrimp, mussels, king crab legs, and a whole lobster). 

The Cove, Leland, Michigan
John C./Yelp

The Cove

Leland, Michigan
What to order: Lake Michigan whitefish

A laid-back grill and bar, The Cove overlooks Lake Michigan and the Manitou Islands and offers pure Michigan fishing cabin vibes. Located at the head of Leland's Historic Fishtown, the restaurant specializes in regional favorites — focusing on local ingredients and from-scratch recipes — like a variety of fresh Lake Michigan whitefish dinners. Want to sample the best of the lakes? Try the Great Lakes Sampler platter with fried perch, walleye, and whitefish. Other menu items worth trying include their seafood chowder, and the Chubby Mary, their signature bloody mary served with a smoked chub.

Related: Over-the-Top Bloody Marys Across America

Fish Company Taco, Galveston, Texas
Tim T./Yelp

Fish Company Taco

Galveston, Texas
What to order: "Dirty South" fish or Korean shrimp tacos

The best fish tacos you'll ever have might be at Fish Company Taco. Executive chef and owner Daya Myers-Hurt breaks down the Gulf-caught big fish herself and crafts creative tacos with more than just the fillets — think tender, perfectly fried collars and cheeks — paired with Asian-inspired ingredients like kimchi and lemongrass in homemade tortillas. Head to this casual, counter-service spot, close to the barrier island's beach, for "Deep South" fish tacos with pimento cheese, corn relish, lime crema, and potato chips, or Korean shrimp tacos with kimchi puree, cilantro, and sesame, and a side of sweet, tangy Brussels sprouts. Get there early to have the full menu selection because they sell out quickly.

Related: Tasty Taco Places Across the Country

The Hangar on the Wharf, Juneau, Alaska

The Hangar on the Wharf

Juneau, Alaska
What to order: Halibut fish and chips, tacos, or chowder

The Hangar on the Wharf — a converted airplane hangar on a wooden pier — looks out over Gastineau Channel and the mountains. Located inside the Historic Merchants Wharf, the restaurant celebrates Southeast Alaska aviation history (it was once an aircraft hangar for many of the float plane operators that eventually became Alaska Airlines). Watch sea planes take off and land from a seat at the bar or patio, where you can order a local brew and halibut in all its glorious forms: in a chowder bowl or bento box, Cajun-style on a salad, or golden and flaky fish and chips, blackened and spiced in tacos, or griddled into a melt on baked ciabatta — you name it, they've got generous portions of it. 

The Clam Shack, Kennebunkport, Maine

The Clam Shack

Kennebunkport, Maine
What to order: Lobster roll or fried clam strips

Perched at the bridge over the Kennebunk River, The Clam Shack is renowned for fried clams and lobster rolls in addition to traditional boiled lobster dinners in the beach town. The seafood shack's walk-up counter sells award-winning fried seafood and lobster rolls served on a freshly baked and buttered hamburger bun from a local bakery. Its riverfront locale and lobster crates for tables and chairs make it a must-visit spot for a pound of sweet hand-picked-meat lobster or some fried clam strips in the summertime.

Alabama Jack's, Key Largo, Florida

Alabama Jack's

Key Largo, Florida
What to order: Conch fritters and crab cakes

It's a bit of a swamp bar floating on two barges among the mangroves, but the lively watering hole Alabama Jack's has been around for more than 50 years entertaining the masses — even the same band has even been playing at the joint for over 28 years. The brightly colored, no-fuss shack is a time warp to Old Florida along Card Sound Road — aka the scenic route from Miami to Key Largo — with a healthy mix of locals, bikers, retirees, families, and boats tied up in the back. In addition to a breezy atmosphere and legendary conch fritters, you'll also find crab cakes, steamed shrimp, fried fish sandwiches, and plenty of cold beer to go around too. 

The Crab Shack, Tybee Island
The Crab Shack/Yelp

The Crab Shack

Tybee Island, Georgia
What to order: Captain Crab's sampler platter or deviled crab plate

Known as the local spot "where the elite eat in their bare feet," The Crab Shack is open year-round for hungry locals and visitors to stop by for steamed, boiled, and raw shellfish, including specialty platters and seafood boils — it's all just come off the pier where you're eating alongside baby alligators in a lagoon. If you're visiting the idyllic Southern city of Savannah, a short drive from Tybee Island, head here for the deviled crab plate, which is prepared with local blue crab meat, cracker crumbs, and spices baked in the shell with slaw and potatoes. Or go big with their specialty: the Captain's Crab Sampler Platter, which is loaded with boiled shrimp, snow crab, rock crab, mussels, crawfish, corn, potatoes, and sausage.

Middendorf's, Akers and Slidell, Louisiana


Akers and Slidell, Louisiana
What to order: Fried catfish

Middendorf's (aka "home of the world famous original thin fried catfish") boasts a deck with bayou views. It's a classic for many southern Louisianans, who drive their boats right up to the dock and eat outside. The landmark seafood restaurant specializes in wisp thin-cut and fried catfish — and you've likely never tasted catfish like this before. It's salty and flaky and piled high on the plate. It's changed ownership over the years, but no one's strayed from the recipes and specialities that've made Middendorf's famous since 1934. Aside from catfish, there's plenty to try: gumbo, crawfish cakes, fried alligator bites and oysters, boiled crabs, fried-thick catfish, catfish fillets broiled with lemon butter, seafood platters, and more.

Bozo's Seafood Market and Deli, Pascagoula, Mississippi
Maryana S./Yelp

Bozo's Seafood Market and Deli

Pascagoula, Mississippi
What to order: Shrimp po' boy

Bozo's Seafood Market and Deli has been dishing up signature seafood items like po'boys, fresh fish, crab, and other tasty options for over 60 years. The casual market and deli in Pascagoula has remained a staple institution on the Gulf Coast for fresh, mouth-watering seafood — and everything is bagged to go. The Mississippi spot definitely has an extensive menu, but the stand-out item here is the buttery, overstuffed shrimp po' boy in a perfectly crusty roll. We're pretty sure po'boys taste better on the Gulf Coast.

Related: 30 Best Delis Across America

Woody's Crab House, North East, Maryland
Mark C./Yelp

Woody's Crab House

North East, Maryland
What to order: Jumbo lump crab cakes

Head to Woody's Crab House in Maryland for some of the best and freshest offerings from Chesapeake Bay — the world's largest exporter of blue crabs. The casual and spacious eatery supplies locally sourced steamed crabs, crab cakes, and other seafood at tables covered in brown paper. You'll find ever-changing lunch and dinner specials, and local Maryland blue crabs all over the menu. But the award-winning crab cakes are made fresh daily with jumbo lump crab meat, so be sure to get those to start. 

Jolly Roger Seafood House, Port Clinton, Ohio

Jolly Roger's Seafood House

Port Clinton, Ohio
What to order: Lake Erie yellow perch or walleye

This spot on the shores of Lake Erie churns out some of the best fish sandwiches and dinner platters with generous portions. Juicy and fresh, the fried yellow perch and walleye — alongside homemade tartar sauce — at Jolly Roger's Seafood House are some go-to regional specialty dishes for locals in the summer. Other must-try items include the jumbo shrimp, salmon, and onion rings. Pro tip: You can bring your recently caught fish, and they'll serve it up with sides.

Clam Box of Ipswich, Ipswich, Massachusetts
Franky A./Yelp

Clam Box of Ipswich

Ipswich, Massachusetts
What to order: Fried clams

Along Massachusetts Route 133, known as the "Clam Highway," you'll stumble upon the Clam Box of Ipswich about 30 miles north of Boston in historic Ipswich. Crowds flock to the classic counter-serve spot — shaped like a cardboard clam box — with an outdoor patio for their fried whole-belly Ipswich clams and clam chowder. But you'll also discover tasty haddock, scallops, and oysters that are just as good as the legendary fried clams.

Cracked Crab, Pismo Beach, California

Cracked Crab

Pismo Beach, California
What to order: Steamed seafood bucket (big bucket for two or single bucket)

The Cracked Crab operates on a crack-your-own shellfish concept. They'll dump a bucket of local seafood on your table and supply the mallets, crab crackers, and other tools for you to do the work. It's a delightfully messy way to dig into the in-season, local seafood — except they'll do the cleanup for you. This little eatery boasts a hearty steamed "Big Bucket for Two," practically a full seafood buffet crammed into a pail then dumped onto the table for you to dive into spicy Cajun sausage, potatoes, and corn mixed with your choice of snow or Dungeness crab, mussels, shrimp, or clams, or Maine lobster tails (for a slight price upgrade). 

Related: The Restaurant With the Best View in Every State