Readers Choice

10Best Readers' ChoiceChosen by readers of USA TODAY and 10Best

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    #10 - Mama's Fish House, Maui

    Claiming to be Maui’s first fresh fish house, Mama’s, in a coconut grove on the beach, is certainly the most popular, jammed since 1973, with fish so fresh they often have to reprint the menu during the day, stating what fishermen caught what and brought it in. In addition to Hawaiian specialties like yellow fin tuna, kampachi, opah and mahi mahi, Mama’s also sources as much as it can, from tomatoes to vanilla, from local farmers.

    Photo courtesy of Mama's Fish House

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    #9 - Elliot's Oyster House, Seattle

    Easy to overlook due to its touristy location on Pier 56 of Seattle’s waterfront, Elliot’s Oyster House should not be missed. It is perhaps the best place in the nation to enjoy the Pacific Northwest’s famed Dungeness Crab. It’s also one of the few that does the whole presentation, expertly cracked and reassembled, and offered three ways, cold, warm or spicy Asian. They also have a huge array of excellent Northwest seafood such as wild-caught King Salmon and even rare white salmon, along with the namesake selection of fresh oysters daily.

    Photo courtesy of Elliott's Oyster House/Mike Urban

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    #8 - Red Fish Grill, New Orleans

    New Orleans is a hotbed of seafood eateries, focused on everything from Gulf-caught redfish to catfish, plus plenty of shrimp and oysters. But while many restaurants here specialize, Redfish Grill does them all very well and very consistently. The standout is their signature buffalo-style oysters, simply one of the best seafood dishes anyplace.

    Photo courtesy of Red Fish Grill

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    #7 - Union Oyster House, Boston

    Union Oyster House, the oldest restaurant in the US, has served everyone from Daniel Webster to JFK, and while famous for its shucked-to-order ground floor raw bar, also offers the full slate of New England seafood classics: thick clam chowder, steamers, scrod, sole, fresh belly clams and every imaginable type of fried fish and shellfish.

    Photo courtesy of cherrylet

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    #6 - Joe's Stone Crab, Miami

    One of the most famous eateries in the world, Joe’s has been a South Beach institution since 1921 and serves 2,000 dinners on a busy night - and another 1,000 at lunch. Ian Fleming’s fictional - and gourmand - James Bond ate here and called it the single best meal of his life. It’s famous for its namesake Florida Stone Crab claws, but the huge menu also has every imaginable take on seafood, including excellent crab cakes and Alaskan King Crab claws

    Photo courtesy of jessiesgirl614

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    #5 - Uncle's Fish Market & Grill, Honolulu

    Started by a fisherman, owned by a local fishing company (Fresh Island Fish) and located on an ocean pier - that pretty much says it all.  Uncle’s Fish Market & Grill is all about the best seafood prepared in just slightly sophisticated ways, without losing sight of the underlying ingredients, and offers everything from Hawaii’s beloved poke to signature miso salmon.

    Photo courtesy of Uncle's Fish Market

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    #4 - Bowens Island Restaurant, Charleston

    This indoor/outdoor joint with amazing marsh views has long worked closely with local fishermen to assure the freshest catch, with a focus on shrimp and oysters. It’s a down-and-dirty hands-on affair, with a hole in the middle of each table for shells. The featured item is the unique roasted oysters, cooked with live fire, although many fans consider this the best place possible for fried shrimp. Bowens also serves crab cakes, fried fish, hushpuppies and the regional specialty, Frogmore Stew. 

    Photo courtesy of Stockbyte/Thinkstock

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    #3 - Cantler's, Annapolis

    The Chesapeake Blue Crab is the official crustacean of Maryland, and Chesapeake Bay is home to a third of all blue crabs in the US. There is no place more popular with locals to eat them than dockside Cantler’s, where crab boats unload fresh catch right at the kitchen. The specialty is steamed crabs by the dozen served with mallets, seasoning and cold beer, but Cantler’s also makes an excellent crab cake.  It's an Annapolis 'must-do.'

    Photo courtesy of Annapolis & Anne Arundel County Conference & Visitors Bureau

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    #2 - Mabel's Lobster Claw, Kennebunkport

    There are dozens of lobster shacks and clam shacks up and down the Maine Coast, but what sets Mabel’s apart is that while it offers all these “shack” classics, steamed and boiled lobsters, fried clam rolls and more, it also has a broader seafood menu and a renowned take on baked stuffed lobster, jammed with huge sea scallops. It is also famous Kennebunkport resident George H. Bush’s favorite eatery.  

    Photo courtesy of Mabel's Lobster Claw

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    #1 - Legal Sea Foods, East Coast

    “If it isn’t fresh, it isn’t Legal” is the slogan at this popular chain –stretching from Florida to Rhode Island - which has its own waterfront purity lab that inspects every delivery. Famed for its thick and bipartisan New England clam chowder, which has been served at the Presidential Inaugurations of all five presidents since Ronald Reagan in 1981, it also has a huge menu of every sorts of seafood dish.

    Photo courtesy of Legal Sea Foods

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Legal Sea Foods Claws it Way to the Top

Mabel's Lobster Claw, Cantler's a close Second, Third

The votes are in and seafood-loving readers of 10Best and USA TODAY have chosen their favorite place to savor the flavors of the sea.   

The winners of 10Best Readers' Choice for Best Seafood Restaurant are as follows:

  1. Legal Sea Foods, East Coast
  2. Mabel’s Lobster Claw, Kennebunkport
  3. Cantler's, Annapolis
  4. Bowens Island Restaurant, Charleston
  5. Uncle’s Fish Market & Grill, Honolulu
  6. Joe's Stone Crab, Miami
  7. Union Oyster House, Boston
  8. Red Fish Grill, New Orleans
  9. Elliot's Oyster House, Seattle
  10. Mama’s Fish House, Maui

Voters had four weeks to vote.  The nominees were selected by USA TODAY food writer Larry Olmsted, whose weekly column Great American Bites is published on USA TODAY.   

Congrats to all the winners!  Now will someone hand us a bib? 

 

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The Experts

Larry Olmsted

Larry Olmsted is the weekly Great American Bites columnist for USAToday.com, covering regional cuisine and restaurants across the nation. He also writes frequently on culinary travel topics for his Forbes.com Great Life column. He is a Contributing Editor to US Airways Magazine and the Contributing Travel Editor for Cigar Aficionado magazine and has written extensively on food and travel topics for a wide variety of publications, including Forbes.com, American Way, Financial Times, Celebrated Living, Relish, Men’s Health, Outside, Elite Traveler, Golf Magazine, Playboy, Popular Science, United Hemispheres and the magazine of the James Beard House. Larry has traveled extensively all over the globe; attended cooking classes in Italy, England, Mexico and the United States; and is certified as competition barbecue judge by the Kansas City Barbecue Society.

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