Americans don’t eat as much seafood as they should, according to federal dietary guidelines – but there is evidence that our per capita consumption may be inching up. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, we consumed 19.2 pounds of fish and shellfish per person in 2019, up 0.2 pounds from the previous year.
One factor in that increase, however small, might be the proliferation of high-quality seafood restaurants around the country, including some that buy directly from local fishermen or farm their own shellfish. (Be aware, though, that for reasons of both your health and the sustainability of fishing stocks these are the worst kinds of seafood you can eat.)
To compile a list of the best seafood restaurants in America, 24/7 Tempo consulted lists, ratings, and reviews from websites including Guide Michelin, Zagat, Gayot, Eater, Time Out, and Tasting Table, as well as local and regional sites. Sushi bars and informal seafood shacks will be the subject of future stories, so were omitted from the final results, though some of the restaurants listed may include sushi on their menu.
Not surprisingly, it turns out that most of the country’s best seafood restaurants are clustered in coastal areas, in cities like Seattle, Miami, Charleston, San Francisco, and of course New York City. A handful of states contain about half of the eateries on this list, with four each in Florida and Massachusetts, five in California, and six in New York.
There’s no one way to prepare fish. Multiple cultures eat it raw, in preparations such as poke, ceviche, crudo, and sashimi; and most of the restaurants here serve some form of raw fish or shellfish as a starter. A number of other places on the list specialize in fried seafood, while some integrate elements of cuisines including Chinese, Mediterranean, Mexican, Japanese, and Italian. (There are a number of seafood specialists on our list naming the best Chinese restaurant in every state.)
The best seafood restaurants in America range from laid-back waterfront joints to Michelin-starred establishments turning first-rate raw materials from the rivers and seas into creations of great sophistication.
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