I will be traveling to Philadelphia the second week in March. Never been there before. How's the seafood during March? Any recommendations for seafood restaurants? I especially like crab and oysters, but don't know how they are in that area or on the east coast for that matter. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.
The Oyster House is a good destination for oysters (both east and west coast varieties) and some seafood dishes as well, but I lean more towards the oysters there. Granted none the seafood in town is local (thankfully) but places around here do have soft shell crabs in season (that's starting in late April or early May) from the Chesapeake a hundred miles away or so. That said, Philly is by no means a destination to eat crabs (like Baltimore) and while there is DiNardo's for crabs in town, I'd pass personally. As far as other good seafood haunts, try Fish but Estia is decent too (albeit very pricy at dinner). I do like the whole branzino at Radicchio Cafe also but would pass on places like Seafood Unlimited and Devon (a chain).
Enjoy your stay!
In March, the Oyster House and some other places should be serving Shad which while not usualy sourced locally anymore, is a traditional Philadelphia seafood delicacy. Give it a try, and also the Shad roe.
I agree about skipping hardshell crabs here and second Oyster House, Fish, and Estia. Little Fish, a tiny BYOB, also does great creative seafood dishes and Kanella does very good whole grilled fish. On the high end, all the crudo and cooked sea food I've had at Lacroix has been excellent. And while maybe not worth the trip for a visitor, the South Philly Tap Room does a great job with any seafood on special, and it's always as locally sourced as possible (Poconos, Jersey, Maryland) and sustainably caught. Fresh oysters are always on special there too.
I second everything that Barry and bluehensfan say. To throw in another place for seafood, Route 6 up on broad street has a nice raw bar too, and does a good fried clam in the style you would find on the Cape.
A comment about Estia. Its greek food, and a lot of the fish is flown in fresh from Greece. You can easily end up paying north of 50 dollars for a piece of fish there which while incredibly good, may not be the bargain you are looking for. Estia does have a pre theatre prix fix for about 30 dollars that is a good value though you wont have access to their best fish that way.
Depending by what you mean by locally sourced seafood, there is locally sourced seafood from the Jersey shore. Another place to look for it is Farm and Fisherman a great BYO that sources as much as they can from local purveyors.
Oysters will be available though some of them may be farmed. You will be able to find both East Coas and West Coast oysters though I do not remember seeing a lot of Gulf Coast Oysters around here.
If you are a fan of an oyster Po' Boy, you should get to either Khyber Pass, a great gastro pub in Old City or to Becks Cajun Cafe in the Reading Terminal Market.
Shad festivals are held in several places in April which is when the Shad used to spawn in the Delaware. One of the more popular Shad Festivals is in Lambertville, NJ about 45 minutes from Philadelphia. You may find it earlier than April at places like the Oyster House, which by the way always features a "buck a shuck" at happy hour.
Lastly for the dive bar Oyster experience Snockeys Oyster House is a throw back to old Philadelphia. I personally enjoy the place, though some on the board have had issues with the place over the years. But definitely cheaper than higher end places like the Oyster House.
We visited the Oyster House last week and it was outstanding! We used to live in Boston before moving to California and really miss bluefish, which you can't get out here at all. The Oyster House had a magnificent grilled bluefish, and were happy to swap the accompaniments on my order to the grilled swordfish due to an ingredient preference. The raw oysters had great variety and quality. There's an excellent selection of wines by the glass and local draft beers. As a final bonus, the pecan pie was one of the best we've ever had - not too sweet as so many are, with a wonderful bourbon whipped cream.
Highly recommended! Little Fish was also a great experience when I last visited Philadelphia a few years ago.