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Best Seafood Lunch in Manhattan?

Hi all,

My gorgeous wife and I have the good fortune of spending a full week dedicated to food in Manhattan this September. We are pretty well acquainted with the city (former residents, way back in a previous life), and are dedicated food lovers.

One of the splurges we'll indulge in while there are 3 or 4 all-out lunches. In our experience, the best way to enjoy a truly great restaurant is to go for lunch. Less crazy, less expensive, and still fantastic food. Besides, nothing quite says 'vacation' like a 2-3 hour lunch with wine and many delectable courses.

We have quite the list, and one of the spots currently is Le Bernardin. My question here however (before we start making ressies), is the following: What is the best seafood restaurant in Manhattan? Price not an issue, but we're not necessarily stuck on expensive. A healthy selection of our favorites are mom and pop dives (love goes a long way). All suggestions very much appreciated. With a bit of luck we'll even hit two great seafood spots while there.

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  1. In the category of upscale French seafood, Le Bernardin is definitely the best. However, there are other places for excellent fish and seafood, albeit on an entirely different level.

    The John Dory - http://www.thejohndory.com

    Kellari Tavern and Kellari's Parea (Greek) - http://www.kellari.us

    For an excellent lobster roll: Pearl Oyster Bar - http://www.pearloysterbar.com

    I don't eat oysters, but those who do recommend The Oyster Bar in Grand Central. (Note: Sit at the counter.) - http://www.oysterbarny.com

    3 Replies
    1. re: RGR

      All of the above are great choices.
      You might also want to consider:

      Aquagrill- www.aquagrill.com

      Milos Estiatorio- www.milos.ca

      1. re: markabauman

        I like Aquagrill plus I'm partial to the great service with a smile from the barkeep.

        1. re: windycity

          You are soooo correct, windycity! Stacy is a gem as are the oysters (I'm partial to west coast myself).

    2. Aquagrill has a very impressive raw bar, as does Blue Ribbon.

      1. All of the above are good choices...(the counter at GCOB is one of my all-time fav places)...

        you also might consider going to Cantoon Garden in Chinatown and getting the twin lobsters sauteed w/ XO sauce...

        i also like getting a seafood-based meal at Scarpetta...they are not open for lunch, but a 5:30 dinner at the bar is a wonderful thing: you could get my fav meal there, which is: yellowtail crudo, followed by asparagus soup w/ mussels, followed by the black cod w/ concentrated tomato and fennel, with several wines by the glass...

        1 Reply
        1. re: Simon

          Love the counter at the Oyster Bar at Grand Central too!

        2. le bernardin is a wonderful choice. especially for lunch. maybe the best seafood in manhattan.

          esca has very good seafood and a wonderful wine list. i was there last week for the umpteenth time. deb and i hosted a good friend from hong kong who knows his seafood and gave this place two thumbs up. desserts are pretty good, too.

          the ultimate seafood indulgence, in my opinion, is sushi yasuda. at the bar. in front of yasuda himself. let him decide what's good for you.

          you'll leave all three of these places very happy.

          2 Replies
          1. re: steve h.

            Any ballpark figure on omakase at Yasuda? And does anyone know if you can make a reservation to sit at the sushi bar?

            1. re: sbkat

              reservations at the bar in front of yasuda are essential. figure maybe $120 per person on average for dinner but you ring up a larger tab with specials and such. you just keep eating until you can't go any further. at that point, chef will figure out your tab.

              yasuda is a charming guy and can keep you entertained between bites. i maybe drink one beer when i go. his rice is superb.

          2. I had lunch at Mary's Fish Camp this week and it glorious... That said, it was a quick hour lunch where all i wanted was a lobster roll so that may not be what you're looking for. Not sure if you can spend 2-3 hours there drinking wine, probably not.

            Definitely 2nd both Aquagrill and Blue Ribbon, fantastic raw bars and top notch dining experiences at both.

            If you're on the hunt for oysters, the best i've had in the city lately come courtesy of Marlow & Sons just over the bridge in Williamsburg. Funky little oyster bar that's small in size but big on personality.


            1 Reply
            1. re: iFat

              I have spent a good two hrs at Mary's Fish Camp sipping on some wine and indulging in some really good seafood and the Key Lime bar is a MUST....Just take your time when ordering that's what we did.

            2. Pearl Oyster Bar was the most memorable from a recent trip to the area! Mmmm!!!

              1. If sushi is up your alley, you can do a Sushi Yasuda omakase

                1. Wow -- thank you all. Looks like some great recs. Even though we live on the west coast and enjoy stellar seafood, I have a feeling we'll be adding a few more seafood lunches to our visit based on your recommendations.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Geeksharka

                    I will throw in Blue Fin in Times Square if you're in the general vicinity.

                  2. Seconds on Pearl Oyster Bar. Start with shared appetizers of steamers, fried oysters, and salt-crusted shrimp, then each have a lobster roll -- or one lobster roll and one of the day's pan-roasted fish fillet. If you at all like shoestring fries or haricots verts, theirs are among the very best; a small portion of fries comes with the lobster roll, but the beans are extra. Finish with a piece (or two) of blueberry-crumb pie and iced tea. The wine list is relatively small, but appropriate.

                    Let the waitress know that you're sharing the apps and ask that she not bring more than one at a time. This will have the effect of prolonging your meal and ensuring that you get to taste each dish while it’s hot.

                    While not fast-food joints, neither Pearl nor the similar (but, I think, lesser) Mary’s is an elegant restaurant; in fact, the best place to eat is at the counter. They tend to be really crowded at dinner, but lunch, served only on weekdays, is easier. Reservations are not accepted, so a queue can form before the noon opening time, but I’ve arrived at 1:00 and sat until they closed to prepare for dinner at 3:00. Prices are commensurate with the quality of the food.