The restaurants every seafood lover should eat at
Crazy for crab? Obsessed with oysters? Partial to plaice? These standout seafood establishments should be right up your alley.
The secret to superlative seafood is two-fold: first, you need the highest quality and freshest fish, then you need a skilled chef to coax out the flavor. From meaty monkfish to stomach-warming creamy chowder, silky raw tuna to crispy batter-enveloped cod, the Earth’s waters yield untold gastronomic delights. Here are seven places around the globe where you are guaranteed a phenomenal seafood supper.
The Walrus and the Carpenter, Seattle, Wash.
Any meal in this Seattle seafood institution ought to begin with a serving of supremely fresh oysters. All of the ones featured on the menu come from the waters of the Pacific Northwest, whether from Washington or British Columbia or even Alaska. Ranging in taste from the mild and buttery to the brazenly briny, the oysters are simple, straightforward and seriously delicious. The Walrus’ capacity for sourcing fresh seafood, specifically oysters, is legendary. But if you want to see what the kitchen team is capable of, you'll also have ample chances to do so with dishes such as halibut ceviche and steamed clams served with curry cream, cannellini beans and escarole. The Walrus is well-loved and it doesn’t take reservations, which means a wait for a seat is somewhat inevitable. But with a good proportion of the diners coming here primarily to shuck a dozen and sip a drink, it usually doesn’t take too long for a space to become available.
Uri Buri, Acre, Israel
The northern Israeli port city of Acre, an alluring Mediterranean-encircled cluster of stone ramparts, ancient walls, tight laneways and underground passageways, is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list. Yet for many visitors here, their most memorable moment isn’t the sight of a majestic marketplace or an evocative winding alleyway, but rather those few heavenly seconds when they first taste fresh-caught seafood at the magnificent Uri Buri. This restaurant’s reputation precedes it, and it has already been singled out by the likes of Vogue and the Washington Post for its exceptional seafood. It is housed in an old waterfront building and its menu showcases seafood in many guises, from fresh anchovies to lightly smoked salmon to deep-fried calamari.
Irifune Sushi, Tokyo, Japan
At Tokyo’s legendary Tsukiji fish market, tuna is the undisputed star of the show. Tourists often rise at an ungodly hour to witness the market’s tuna auction, observing as scrupulous wholesalers inspect the fresh fish flesh and bid on the best. It is from this very market that Irifune’s tuna – touted by many as the best in Tokyo – is procured. It comes in various cuts, from akami (the reddest and leanest) to chutoro (medium fat) to melt-on-the-tongue otoro (the softest, fattiest and most expensive). The real scene-stealer here is the restaurant’s signature otoro aburi, which is ever-so-lightly seared. Order the maguro (tuna) set and you will get to sample all the various kinds.
La Mar Cebichería Peruana, Peru
This must-loved, lunch-only Lima restaurant comes from Gastón Acurio, a Peruvian celebrity chef who has tirelessly championed his native cuisine, bringing little-known Peruvian dishes and ingredients to the international culinary stage. It is hard to beat the feel-good atmosphere and noisy buzz of its Lima location but Acurio’s chain, called La Mar, now has outposts in seven cities, including Miami and San Francisco. Begin with palate-pleasing ceviche samplers then graduate to a main course of picante de mariscos (seafood stew) or fish of the day, served whole.
Mercado de Mariscos, Panama City, Panama
It's common knowledge that seafood tastes best when it’s not long from the water. If you want to get your hands around fish that is truly fresh, your best bet is to go straight to the ocean. Unless you have a license, boat and fishing skills, the closest you’ll get to the source in Panama City is probably the city’s fish market, Mercado de Mariscos. This straightforward seafood-centric restaurant sits on the second floor of the market, cut off from the hubbub of the stalls stationed below. It serves up everything from ceviche to seafood stews to whole fried fish as well as typical Panamanian sides such as patacones (fried green plantains). Whatever is fresh will feature on the menu – whether that be corvina, crab, lobsters, octopus, squid or shrimp.
Five Oysters, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
This superb seafood restaurant is situated in the backpacker heartland of Ho Chi Minh’s District 1. Don’t be fooled by the name. While oysters (both fresh and grilled) do make an appearance on the menu, there is a wide selection of additional seafood-centric dishes to choose from, including salt-grilled shrimps with chili, sautéed mackerel and crab sourced from the lakes and rivers of the Mekong Delta. Five Oysters isn’t a fine-dining establishment; it’s casual and reasonably priced. What’s more, it has meat options for the fish-averse as well as more unusual land and water-dwelling proteins such as frog and snail.
Bar Txepetxa, San Sebastian, Spain
Any Basque Country-bound foodie worth their salt will have heard of this tiny pintxo place in San Sebastián, Spain. Anchoas (anchovies) are the main event here. Tasty marinated fillets are arranged on warm bread and topped with the likes of spider crab cream, sea urchin roe, tapenade, and onion, pepper and tomato salsa. Even if you think you abhor anchovies, do yourself a solid and try them again here. Txepetxa’s deliciously flavorful bite-sized dishes taste nothing like the intensely salty and pungent cured variety so often found sprinkled on takeaway pizzas. What’s more, the servings are pintxo-size, which means you can sample lots of varieties before your stomach calls closing time on the party happening in your mouth.
MORE FROM THE GRAPEVINE: