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Nov 26, 2012 05:55 AM

Please Help! Recommended Seafood!

Hi all.

I know this has probably been asked a million times on this board, but as a newbie, I need a bit of help. Myself and my wife are coming to Boston from the U.K next weekend for a weeks holiday, and really need some help deciding on a decent seafood place to eat at. Being from London, I am well aware of tourist trape and massive mark-ups for sub-standard produce so will really wish to avoid that if possible

We both want to try lobster, as we've never really eaten it before. I know it sounds cheesy as hell, but we are kinda hoping for the whole experience..... bib. hammers etc, and due to us being lobster novices, friendly staff that are willing to explain where the best meat is and best way of getting it out!

That may be the Holy Grail, and I know I'll get some varying responses, but I really am in need of help! I don't want to go somewhere are be absolutely gutted after the meal that we wasted our time and money in there!

I have booked up a table for mid-week in Legal Seafoods (Long Wharf) but can easily cancel if there is a distinct possibility I will regret going there!

Thanks in advance


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  1. If you stick to Lobsters, clam chowder and maybe a salad or some oysters, you'll be fine at Legal. It's a little overpriced, but not the end of the world. Lobster w/bibs, etc. is by definition sort of touristy, so you're going to find it at places like Legal or Union Oyster House. The really fun places to get it are at the shacks on the shore or Cape and Islands, but I think you'll come out of Legal knowing our famous food pretty well. The best non-touristy place downtown for seafood is Island Creek Oyster Bar, but that is more of a hip place trying to do a little more than Lobster with bibs.

    1. I highly recommend ICOB (Island Creek Oyster Bar) in the Kenmore Square area of Boston. They may not have Steamed Lobsters but they have excellent, fresh, local seafood in a friendly and lively atmosphere. I suggest that you email the Manager, Tom, who is a great guy and will make sure that you are treated well. His email is I highly recommend the fresh, local oysters, the oyster sliders, lobster roll and the lobster roe noodles. You can view their menu at

      If you have a car, which you probably do not, for a great experience about 40 minutes north of Boston, you might want to go to Woodman's in Essex, Massachusetts, for the "whole" lobster experience, bibs, crackers (sorry, no hammers). In the summer, it is very touristy and crowded but this time of year would be quiet and perfect in a quaint seaside community.

      If you do not have a car, I suggest the Legal Harborside in the Seaport area. The restaurant has great views of the harbor and it has 3 floors with 3 different restaurants. I recommend the 1st Floor which is more casual and you can have their clam or fish chowder which is usually quite good, as well as, the whole lobster experience.

      1. Have a good visit, but as always let us know where you are staying, price points and prefered mode of transportation so we can direct you better.

        Here is a link to a post earlier in the year, prices might have gone up a bit, but you can narrow down your selection and give them a call when you get here. I think most of the local's will make them at home since it is easy to do. You can always go to almost any china town place and they will steam you some for the same price as their other lobster specials.

        do a search on opinionatedchef for her posts for visitors to Boston

        1. Thanks for all the advice. We'll definitely have a think about it a bit more.

          lc02139 - We are staying at the Sheraton in Dalton Street. Distance and price isn't really a major issue.

          I had a feeling that the more touristy places would have the bibs etc. On reflection, seeing as I have NO idea how to shell a lobster or what's good to eat and what's potentially full of toxons, I'd be better off having it served up already prepared!

          Thanks again. I know there have been other posts regarding this (although I didn't see many recent ones so things may have improved/got worse since then) so appreciate your responses.

          13 Replies
          1. re: Londonboy

            I think the best way to find out if you like lobster maybe to look for lobster rolls or lobster pie's they are both shucked (meat taken out of the shell). The roll's are done with butter or mayo, the pies butter and bread crumbs and baked. If you like lobster you can graduate to a whole lobster, Chinese places probably (ed won't) give you the best instruction.
            here is a current thread of lobster roll discussion

            1. re: lc02139

              Thanks again. At the risk of hijacking my own thread asking for another suggestion, are there any decent chinese restaurants you can recommend?! (Sorry to be a pest!)

              1. re: Londonboy

                What kind of chinese food are you looking for??
                Sichuan, taiwanese, american-chinese, dim-sum, ??

                These are places I go for the types I like, seafood New Jumbo, peach farm, Peking duck (china king), New golden gate. Dim Sum, Hei La Moon (cart), Winsor Dim Sum Café (menu), china pearl (cart) . Taiwanese Taiwan Cafe (Taiwanese), New Shanghai (sichuan) all are in Chinatown. xiao long bao Dumpling cafe, dumpling house soupy dumplings and more.

                All have been covered well on this board in the past

                1. re: lc02139

                  Good stuff, thanks again for the advice.

                  I'll have a quick check-up on the site and decide from there. Hopefully I'll have made a decision by this time next week!

                  Thanks again everyone, you've been a great help

            2. re: Londonboy

              you are a step away from Summer Shack if you are at the Sheraton. A perfectly fine place for lobster, raw bar, etc. If you like to walk, you're about a `1/2 mile from ICOB which is a generally fine seafood restaurant that showcases what is good from our waters. If you want to "mimic" the lobster shack experience, go to Alive 'n Kickin in Cambridge - bare bones, excellent product, and for inexpensive and beautifully fresh seafood, Court House Restaurant in Cambridge is a grand choice. But given where your hotel is, I'd definitely start with Summer Shack.

              1. re: teezeetoo

                Great, thanks for that. I'll have a look at the Summer Shack and see what it has to offer. I've had Lobster before, but only a tiny amount. As lc02139 suggested, it may be worth starting out small and gratuate to a whole one if the mood takes me!

                1. re: Londonboy

                  No toxins to worry about when eating a lobster. All the meat is in the tail and the claws, with a little sweet morsel in the "knuckles" or arms which connect the claws to the body. The tail is usually served already split, so you can remove the meat in one whole piece. The claws and knuckles are also sometimes cracked for you, or you can do it with a nut cracker and pick the meat yourself. Quite simple really. There is a little bit of meat that some forage into the body for, but i generally skip that. Also, you may or may not decide to eat the tomallay, or dark green liver, or the roe, the bright red eggs. Some do. Some don't. Go for the whole steamed lobster in the shell experience. Or better yet, get one baked stuffed for added decadence. The best baked stuffed lobster I've ever had is found at a place who's better days are decades long past, Anthony's Pier 4. It's called Lobster Hawthorne and it was a 1 1/2 pound lobster stuffed inside a 1 1/2 pound lobster. Incredible. The room is an unclean, worn disaster of a bygone era though.

              2. re: Londonboy

                Right next to your hotel is a branch of Jasper White's Summer Shack - they should be able to provide you with just what you're looking for, whether you decide to go through with the full bibs-and-crackers experience or opt for a pre-shelled preparation. (I don't think you're at risk from any toxins, BTW.)

                The Summer Shack doesn't get a lot of love on this board precisely because it IS rather touristy and decidedly ersatz, but a number of regular posters here have reported good experiences, and I think you could have a good time and a good meal there.

                1. re: Allstonian

                  Thanks Allstonian. it's now pretty evident that to get bibs etc, touristy is the way to go. To be honest, on consideration, as nice as the photo would be with the bibs, I'd rather have decently priced, quality food and really enjoy it, over a photo opportunity!

                  1. re: Londonboy

                    and just as an aside, you don't use hammers for lobster. :)

                    1. re: hotoynoodle

                      I know! I realised I meant the 'crackers after I'd posted it! (Rookie mistake number 1!)

                  2. re: Allstonian

                    Summer Shack may be touristy, but Jasper White's pan fried lobster is one my favorite dishes in Boston. Alive and Kicking is a shack that is best experienced in warm weather.

                  3. re: Londonboy

                    Do not be afraid to order (and eat!) a whole lobster. It is not scary. It is fun and delicious.
                    I learned as a child, but, if you didn't--don't worry. I just googled "How to Eat a Lobster" for you. There are several YouTube videos and also a website called lobsterhelp that's apparently devoted to people who want to learn how to do this. Yes, the lobster is a complicated intricate crustacean--but the tail and claws, those areas of ample meat, will be perfect evident.

                    You can possibly achieve both your goals in Chinatown, where several restaurants have Twin Lobster specials for under $20. Order it simply stir fried with ginger and scallion. It will come cut up in pieces, accompanied by nutcrackers. Print out one of those online lobster guides. Or just find your own way. Great Taste, in Chinatown, has this special, and it's a humble place where no one will expect you to be elegant, or even necessarily know what you're doing.

                  4. If you search this board and the posts already recommended, you'll see that Neptune Oyster in the North End and Island Creek Oyster Bar get very good reviews (with a few dissenters on each). You can get a great lobster roll at Neptune, but not the "entire lobster" experience. As noted, you can get that at Legal Seafood but I (and many others) would not recommend Summer Shack, which also will give you the lobster experience with bibs (however the grilled lobster there used to good, I haven't tried it in many years).

                    There is another place, the Mount Vernon in Somerville (this is a block away from the Boston neighborhood of Charlestown; you can get there via the orange subway line to Sullivan Station and then a short walk, safe but can look dubious), that is famous for good prices on twin lobsters...bibs and all. The staff are friendly and helpful with especially visitors from other countries and will explain all; it's at the end of my street and I often see tourists there especially from Asia (you can tell by the many photos they take as they eat the lobster). This is not a gourmet place at's kind of stuck in a time warp and is an old neighborhood institution that has not modernized or gentrified at all. The prices vary from week to week but are often the least expensive in the area, outside of Chinatown.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Madrid

                      Strong second rec for the Mt Vernon. They are so kind with people experiencing their first lobsters and while it's a bit off the beaten path I can't think of a better place to dip your toes in our lobster waters.

                      If you're not in the mood for a field trip then get your lobster roll on at Neptune and decide if it's worth the fuss to go full Monty.