New Yorkers have come to expect the best from their city's restaurants: the best steak, the best tacos, the best pancakes. The city's seafood is no different, and locals will travel to great lengths searching for the perfect plate.
Luckily, hungry pescavores don't have to go too far to stumble upon a seafood gem in the Big Apple - regardless of where you find yourself when the hunger strikes, there's a good chance fresh fish is nearby.
When you're looking to impress (or when you've got your hands on the company card), there's none better than Eric Ripert's Le Bernardin, widely heralded as the best seafood - and often the best restaurant - in New York. The accolades reflect Ripert's attention-to-detail and obsession with quality - two factors that shine through on every plate.
Prefer a twist of culture with your meal? Give the Mediterranean a go with Italian-focused Marea, or the Greek powerhouse Estiatorio Milos - both high-end joints that will wow even the most discerning palates.
For more budget conscious diners, casual eateries like Luke's Lobster in the East Village turn out top-notch noshes like buttered lobster rolls, piled high with meat and best eaten in the throes of summer.
Below, we do the deep sea diving for you, plucking the top ten seafood restaurants out from the net and delivering them directly to your desktop.
Perfectly seasoned lobster, lightly slathered with mayo and served up in a crusty-on-the-outside, soft-on-the-inside roll is a summer classic that can't be understated. Luke of Luke's Lobster couldn't agree more. As a native of Maine, Luke spent his life chowing down on lobster meat, only to find himself dismayed and disappointed at the lobster roll options of the Big Apple.
That's when he took things into his own hands and opened up his first lobster shack in the East Village. Now, he's got 14 outposts with loyal patrons banging down the doors every day of the week. If you're looking for a taste of summer, look no further. (212-387-8487)
Craft beer and cracked oysters is the name of the game at Upstate, a relative newcomer to the East Village. Italian-esque throughout the rest of its menu, this spot is trendy, but not too cool for school that you can't kick back and relax. With a varying list of goodies depending on what's fresh, things rotate in and out pretty regularly, though you can expect house classics like the fettuccine with clams every night of the week. And if you're on a budget, there's no better time to visit than happy hour where you''ll score a pint of beer and 6 oysters for just 12 bucks. (917-408-3395)
Sleek, understated lines, and a sky high dining room ceiling meld with white-striped glass windows that make dining here an airy affair. Though you're surrounded by glass, the atmosphere feels somehow cozy - warm fuzzies that are only amplified when the food arrives from the open kitchen.
While it's a treat to watch Portuguese-American chef George Mendes practice his art, the real gift is the final result - a blend of Iberian flavors that are reminiscent of his past apprenticeships (think Bouley and Ducasse), yet distinctly all his own. Seafood and shellfish are staples of the menu - and regulars say you'd be remiss in skipping the sea urchin toast - but other options, such as the arroz de pato (a paella tossed with chorizo, olives, and duck confit) are definitely something to savor. (212-675-7223)
Walking into Lure feels a bit like entering an extremely chic submarine. From the portholes and teak paneling, to angular passageways and cabin-inspired private rooms, Lure certainly impresses first-timers with its luxury liner motif. That said, it's the food – the truest measure of a restaurant's capacity for staying afloat – that makes this place SoHo's fashionable choice for fish and seafood.
Those opting for bar food dining can enjoy Puget Sound oysters, arctic char or Littleneck clams; meanwhile, the "Fish Board" features options like grilled swordfish with soy-ginger marinade and bay leaf-crusted seared tuna. If you're looking to splurge, the surf and turf is a good way to go. (212-431-7676)
With over 20 different types of mussels on the menu, Flex pairs these PEI bi-valves with sauces that pay homage to yes, the French tradition, but also to India, Thailand, Italy - even Copenhagen. While there's a collection of salads on the menu, this isn't the spot for anyone who's not prepared to plan their meal mainly around mollusks.
Decor is minimal, but ambient enough to act as a proper backdrop for throwing back beers and sucking shells. Surprisingly, you shouldn't skip dessert here. Regulars swear up and down about the salted caramel donuts, so hold out on ordering that second helping of truffle fries. (212-717-7772)
Taverna Kyclades now has an outpost in the East Village on 1st Avenue. In a pinch, it'll do, but if you're itching for the true experience, get thee to Queens. When you get off the train at Ditmars, hang a right – you'll know you're in the right place when you spot the horde of hungry patrons waiting outside.
Once seated, order anything off the seafood menu. No, seriously – it's all that good. If you're having a hard time choosing, allow us to recommend a few house favorites: the stuffed clams, grilled octopus and the branzino. Plus, a bonus? For your hard work and dedication to eating well, free dessert in the form of custard will be presented at the end of your meal. (718-545-8666)
Celebrity chef Eric Ripert has created a New York space that's romantic, refined and seductive, while still managing to infuse his French-Spanish influence into every corner. Le Bernardin, regarded by many as the best restaurant in NYC, has received more James Beard Awards than any other restaurant in the city, and holds four New York Times stars, in addition to two Michelin stars.
The food, as you might imagine, is impeccable. Simple preparations and respect for the ingredients trump any type of frou-frou experiments, though the cuisine still manages to shine with creativity that can only come from years of intense love and attention-to-detail. If you love seafood, put Le Bernardin at the very top of your culinary bucket list. (212-554-1515)
What do you get when you mix an ingredients-driven, award-winning Italian menu, impeccable service, and a fantastic wine list with more than 750 selections? The answer is Marea. Meaning "tide" in Italian, Marea is manned by Chef Michael White and has earned three stars from The New York Times, two stars from Michelin, and a city of devoted regulars who claim that this is the best Italian seafood in the city. Dishes like dressed blue prawns with carrot crisp and tarragon to share, or choose from the Crudo al Taglio, or sliced raw fish and shellfish or choose from four different types of caviar, starting at a mind-boggling $150 per ounce. Our recommendation: opt for the 4-course prix fixe, a modest $99 affair that allows you to sample a crudo, pasta (fatta in casa, or homemade), main and dessert. (212-582-5100)
Greek-focused Estiatorio Milos boasts locations in Montreal, Athens, Vegas, Miami and London, as well as New York. Don't let that dissuade you. While the wide spread exposure might be off-putting, the food is most certainly not. Beware that the menu – and the prices – are much more high-brow, and inspiration's drawn from locations closer to Manhattan than Athens. (Maryland crab cakes, anyone?)
Because of its close proximity to the Theater District, it also conveniently offers a special 4-course dinner both pre- and post-show, with choices ranging from fresh calamari to tomato salad, and grilled salmon served with crown broccoli. (212-245-7400)
Regulars will tell you that the widest variety of oysters in the city can be found at Aquagrill, an unassuming corner spot in the SoHo. With bi-valves piled high atop the bar, and a seafood list nearly as tall as the stacks, Aquagrill is a high contender among many for best seafood restaurant in Manhattan.
Tucked into the menu's "exotic" options, you'll find everything from periwinkles to sea urchin, in addition to old standbys like Maine crab claws and a two-tier seafood medley. Fresh fish is offered grilled, poached or roasted with a hefty selection of side dishes from snow peas to polenta. (212-274-0505)
About Andrea Wien
Andrea Wien was bitten by the travel bug from an early age, and has lived in New York, Seattle, Cleveland and Sydney, Australia since 2007.
When she's not traveling or planning a trip, you'll likely find her eating tacos while throwing darts and watching the Cleveland Browns.
Read more about Andrea Wien here.
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