HOME > Chowhound > Greater Boston Area >


Seafood (Seriously)


It has been a long time since I last lived in Boston, and a few years since I did some serious eating there. I will be visiting in April/May and want to entain a friend from Barcelona with American seafood. Not only is she from BCN, but her famaily is big in the fish business - so this lady knows her seafood. If it were 20 years ago, I suspect I would be thinking of Jasper White (or similar). What's good now ?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Actually, Jasper does have two great fish places in the area; the Summer Shack. One is near Alewife T station and the other is in the Back Bay next to Bukowski's. I have never had a dish there I didn't like and was particulary impressed with a bluefish dish served mexican style using lime. It was not overpowering yet remained full flavored, nor was it slide off the fork oily.

    There are some great appetizers and somehow I never get out of there without doing an oyster shooter (can't really explain that one.)

    As much as I despise chains and this seems to have become one, I don't think you can go wrong with Legal Seafood. It's a little overpriced and you are paying for the name, but I have always found them to be consistently good. There is one on the waterfront near the Aquarium, one in Cambridge and another in the Back Bay.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Devilsfood

      Summer Shack is controversial on this board. Many of us (myself included) think the place is just awful. Legal's is ok, but IMHO not where I'd bring someone who really "knows her seafood."

      I'd bring your friend to B&G Oysters. I think it's the best primarily seafood place we've got in Boston.

      1. re: Blumie

        B&G would be my recommendation as well. Really good variety of oysters, lots of them local as well as a traditional lobster roll that I find delicious.

        1. re: lissy

          ... and their fish preparations generally are excellent, too.

          1. re: Blumie

            Go with B&G. Legal is crap and Summer Shack is a step above but go with B&G. Pair your oysters with a Muscadet that seems fit for you on the wine list. Its not too acidic which compliments the mignonette sauce and lemon juice that you top your oyster off with.

            Thank me later

            1. re: EnderWiggin

              Personally, I stopped using mignonette with oysters for the most part as I'd rather have the clean briney and fleshy taste of the oyster without any other flavors.

      2. re: Devilsfood

        I'll join the naysayers on Summer Shack. Weak food, loud digs, perfunctory service, and Ritz-level prices. Horrible Indian pudding -- which had soft serve ice cream on top! Do yourself a favor and stay far, far away.

      3. Since the friend is so entrenched in seafood, maybe you want to go in a different direction here? Or go completely casual and take a trip to the clam shacks on the north shore (Clam Box, Farnham's, Essex Seafood, Woodman's). That's a different kind of American experience. Azure and Meritage have nice fish dishes for fancier stuff.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Joanie

          some of those north shore clam shacks don't open till memorial day.

          1. re: hotoynoodle

            The most important ones being the seasonal Clam Box, Farnham's and the year-round Village Restaurant and Woodman's are all open now, FYI

        2. Oh Dear God. please do NOT bring your friend to the summer shacks or legal's. they are so not good examples of this area's best seafood places. search this board a bit and you will find a plethora of better options. i, for one, would have you look into East Coast Grill or any one of a number of places in Chinatown.

          i do like the suggestion of a trip up to ipswich or essex. they are great local seafood places of a style that is not done, or rarely done well, outside of the North Shore.

          1 Reply
          1. re: ScubaSteve

            try the Blue Marlin Grill in Essex on the Ipswich line...always fresh and tasty, amazing prices (I'm quite sure nothing is much more than $20...including amazing tuna) and a real "local" feel but not picnic benches and paper plates.

          2. I would pass on Jasper White's if your friend knows her seafood. I've never been particularly blown away.

            It's tough to beat East Coast Grill when it comes to seafood restaurants in the Boston area. Neptune Oyster is also excellent.

            I think the the Ipswich/Essex fried seafood idea is a great one. It would be a very New England type of experience.

            If you had some great weather you might want to consider heading to Brown's in Seabrook, NH. You can sit outside and enjoy fried seafood (like fried lobster tails. mmmm) and steamers, mussels, lobsters, etc. There's a big deck and a lot of good people watching.

            1 Reply
            1. re: kittychow

              i also kinda like the idea of Brown's but i do think that they aren't the best fryers of ocean delights, a little too inconsistent. they will let you BYO and the deck can be nice if the greenheads aren't out.

            2. The Daily Catch in the north end might be worth considering.

              1. I had an excellent dinner at the Back Eddy in Westport, MA (about 1 hr from Boston). You can get a table right on the harbor and watch the sunset. The fish is excellent. They are closed right now so you will need to check when they open for the spring; you can also view their menu online, I think it's backeddy.com (you can google back eddy if it's not).

                1. Disagree about Legal. Depending on the location, they have the widest selection of seafood around and can be quite good- I have never had a bad meal there despite the experiences of others and we frequent the place. Wonderful fresh oysters, fresh fish in almost any kind of preparation. The Aqaurium location is, inmy experience, quite good.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: emilief

                    They clearly have the widest selection of seafood. And while the preparations can be good, they are not even close to being in the league of many of Boston's better restaurants.

                  2. Definitely stay away from Legal. Maybe it was good once upon a time, but now you're just as likely to get mediocre food and amateurish service.

                    1. If you're not taking your friend up to the clam shacks on the North Shore, I would vote for either B&G or Neptune Oyster.

                      1. I've never had a meal at Summer Shack that I liked...Legal has been fine, but nothing to write home about. Especially if home is Barcelona.

                        I third Neptune Oyster. Every meal I've had there has been excellent.

                        1. I would suggest Taranta. I think your friend would appreciate the seafood heavy, innovative melding of Peruvian and Southern Itailan cuisines. The owner and staff have created a very warm & welcoming environment. I've never, ever, had anything less than a terrific dining experience here.

                          1. I had a VERY unpleasant meal at the Legal chain. What they call chowder was....not. Back Eddy is good but seasonal and then there's Providence. Hemenway's used to be quite good...dedicated to seafood and lots of oysters on the menu.

                            1. Get some seafood from Peach Farm (steamed) or New Jumbo (fried).

                              1. East Coast Grill! I've always had luck there... insanely fresh and welcoming. Everything is in season.... so delicious :)

                                1. Asian-style seafood would be a new experience for someone from Barcelona, I'd imagine. In Chinatown I'd agree with Limster, who beat me to it, for Peach Farm and Jumbo, and would add the Taiwan Café for some additional dishes. East Ocean City is also excellent.

                                  1. Maybe a trip out to the cape would be fun. Great clam joints out there as well.

                                    1. If you don't want to make that long trip to the North Shore or the Cape why not go to Moultons Seafood on Winthrop St in Medford. Only 4 miles from Boston and the best seafood you ever had...

                                      1. Hi

                                        My rec would be to take your friend to The Catch Restaurant in Winchester. I have taken many European business clients there and all of them have been very impressed and usually ask to be taken there agin whenever they are back in the area. Catch is a small place run by a husband and wife team. They feature the freshest seafood around in very interesting and tasty combinations. It is not your run-of-the-mill New England style seafood but it is very very good. They also have an excellent wine list that covers a wide range of prices.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: RoyRon

                                          I've only been to Catch once, a few years ago, but enjoyed it enough that I would recommend it over many of the places in Boston, including (without question) Summer Shack, Legals and Skipjacks, but also including a place like Great Bay.

                                        2. This has been really helpful. Thank you very much.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: beckerjt2

                                            As a final note - we went to East Coast Grill and B&G. The ECG was a hit because she got to eat Blue Fish (which they don't have in Spain) cooked very well. B&G was perfect because she was able to sample a variety of oysters, and have a nice olive opil cake for dessert. The weather was lousy that week, so going out of town wasn't a good plan. But, those two hit the spot. Thank you.