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Aug 31, 2008 03:29 PM

Best Seafood Markets/Stores in Manhattan/BK?

I suffer a debilitating fear of buying fresh seafood in Manhattan and wondering if folks can recommend the top purveyors of retail seafood in the city or Brooklyn? Perhaps I have read too much Bourdain but can never bring myself to buy mussels or clams though I am dying to use in several recipes. I bought bad shrimp from the Whole Foods on Houston-- so done with them. Any recommendations?

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  1. Fish Tales on Court Street (a few blocks down from Atlantic Ave) is fabulous. The guys who run it are super nice, will answer all your questions and the fish is reasonable and first rate. They also make some their own prepared food- fish soups and stews, and already cooked entrees- all good.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Ann900

      Thanks Ann! And they have a variety of seafood?

    2. In Manhattan, I found Citarella to be the most consistent in providing good quality seafood. They also have a very wide selection to choose from. I believe some restaurants actually source their seafood from Citarella.

      Wild Edibles is also very good, but it is more expensive. I don't know if the recent bankruptcy will have any impact on their business or quality.

      Lobster Place at Chelsea Market is also very reliable.

      No seafood at Whole Foods, very inconsistent and staff is not knowledgeable.

      3 Replies
      1. re: kobetobiko

        I also buy most of my seafood, including clams and mussels, at Citarella and never buy seafood at Whole Foods or Dean & Deluca, and will never buy seafood again from Gourmet Garage (which is not an issue since it's highly unlikely that I'll be stopping in there again any time soon, period). I have read very good things about Leonard's on the UES, but have yet to try them - v. expensive.

        BTW - I've only read Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential, which I just finished while on vacation this week, and at least there, his caution was about eating mussels in restaurants. I've been cooking clams and mussels at home for almost 20 years now with no problems.

        1. re: MMRuth

          I agree with the Gourmet Garage sentiment. They have fabulous products and produce, and dairy among other things, but their seafood and meat department is horrendous (maybe to extreme a word. . .but definitely a let down compared with everything else)

        2. re: kobetobiko

          Yes, not only are they not knowledgable at the Whole Foods--hardly professional. I bought whole calamari there once and the young man behind the counter scrunched his nose in disgust and asked me how they were cooked! Hardly instilled confidence in them as a market, swore not to go back. Thanks so much for all the great suggestions.

        3. Yes, Fish Tales has a good variety of seafood.
          I certainly second Citarella - since I moved from Brooklyn to Manhattan, it's my go to place for seafood. But it's quite a distance to travel if you're in Brooklyn. Stick with Fish Tales. (FYI the Brooklyn Fairway has a large seafood department- but with Fairway, it's hit or miss- some stuff i s okay, other stuff less so.)

          3 Replies
          1. re: Ann900

            Citarella is definitely excellent, though expensive....and I'll agree that Whole Foods has a pathetic seafood department, in all its stores that I have seen..(although the Chelsea store seems to be minimally better than most). If you are knowledgeable about fish and seafood, a search through Chinatown (or Asian markets in any other boroughs) can get you some great stuff at lower prices.

            1. re: EricMM

              Yes - while I've not often bought seafood in Chinatown, what I've bought has been good and very inexpensive.

            2. re: Ann900

              Another vote for Fish Tales. I happen to live in the BK Heights/Cobble Hill neighborhood making it extremely convenient, but in the once or twice a week I go there since moving here a year and a half ago, I've never been disappointed. Go for the softshells (though I forget when the season is over)

            3. You will be hard pressed to find fresher (or more local) seafood than from the Saturday Tribeca farmers market. I forget the name of the stand, but all the fish and shellfish is from eastern long island. we had mussels for dinner on saturday night and they were fresh and delicious (and at $2.50/lb we paid more money for the herbs which went into the wine/garlic broth). The same fisherman is at Union Square on Wendesdays.

              1. Oh, I'm so with you about the Whole Foods (all branches). I find Citarella's seafood dept to be pretty good. And I've also had good luck at Lobster Pot. Wild Edibles -- I find there stuff is too expensive for the quality. I think most of their best stuff goes to the restaurants -- though not sure what's happening with them after they filed for bankruptsy. Chinatown is good only if you know what you're doing. The fish are generally not labeled (so you have to know what you're looking for), and it can be a hit or miss. So it's good if you know how to discern between the fresh fish and not-so-fresh fish. If you go to C-town, I would avoid the filets as you can't really tell how fresh they are. And I would also not go there for fish like tuna -- I don't think the turnover is as high for tuna as the other fish are. I've had bad luck with tuna there.

                With your mussels and clams fear, MMRuth is correct that Bourdain was referring to restaurants. I probably wouldn't eat clams raw from C-town. But when you cook clams and mussels, only eat the ones that open up. If they're closed when you cook them, it means they're bad. So you really shouldn't be having too much of an issue with them as long as you cook them.