One major way that cities try to draw in tourists is with their restaurants. Major cities along the coasts of the United States have some of the best restaurants in the world. In particular, the seafood restaurants in some of these cities are very good. Not everyone is a big fan of seafood but there are many who love to eat creatures taken from the ocean. This article will countdown the 10 USA Cities With The Absolute Best Seafood (10 To Avoid At All Costs).
Most of the best seafood places will be found within a few miles of the ocean, so I have tried to limit both sections of this list to seaside cities. With that being said, there are a few entries that break this trend in both directions. It is also worth noting that the northern half of the country (both east and west) has several more good entries than the southern half. Maybe this list will help dispel the reputation of good homemade southern seafood. The pictures on this list come from the restaurants found in each of these cities.
If you have any stories about the seafood restaurants in any of these cities, feel free to mention them in the comments sections.
20 Absolute Best - Boston, Massachusetts: Great Seafood Since the Revolution
Millions of tourists come to Boston Harbor every year to see the spot where the Sons of Liberty exclaimed their dissent to Britain's rule by dumping crates of tea into the harbor.
The Boston Tea Party exhibit itself is pretty lame but the harbor has other advantages. One of these is the amazing seafood that is available in Boston. Most of this food is caught right off of the coast and almost every seafood place in downtown Boston knows how to cook it to perfection. Seafood is just one of the many things that the city of Boston has to offer.
19 Avoid - Miami, Florida Has Lost Its Seafood Touch
I was very surprised to find that the state of Florida doesn’t have a very good reputation for its seafood. The entire state is surrounded by water, so you would think that some of its coastal cities would be able to rustle up some good grub.
According to several travel websites, the seafood in Miami is especially sad. Miami is one of the biggest cities in the state and it is the home to a diverse group of people. Under normal circumstances, this would lead to a vibrant food scene, including several great seafood restaurants.
It is unknown why this hasn’t happened it Miami, but reviews of the major seafood restaurants in town are abysmal.
18 Absolute Best - Check Out the Zoo and Seafood in San Diego, California
San Diego just has everything. The California city is one of the places at the top of my travel list and now I can add "great seafood" as one of the reasons why I need to go there.
San Diego has everything that every other coastal California city has, plus a lot of really popular tourist attractions like the San Diego Zoo. It appears as if it is also a great place to go for seafood on the West Coast. There are several famous seafood restaurants in the city. People routinely drive down all the way from LA to visit them.
17 Avoid - San Francisco, California
If being the most progressive city in America came with an award, San Francisco would have been in the running for the past four decades. The city is incredibly liberal and this has allowed San Francisco to develop a culture that is totally unique from everywhere else in the country.
The popularity of the city brings in a lot of people, who inherently bring with them their own unique cooking skills and recipes. This has led to a vibrant food scene in San Francisco, but one that does not include a bunch of good seafood restaurants.
16 Absolute Best - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and East Coast Bias
The city of Philadelphia is famous for a lot of things but the great seafood available in this coastal city isn't one of them.
Almost everyone knows that Philadelphia was an important news and shipping hub during the Revolution but what they do not know is that this Pennsylvania city got its start as a fishing village. Colonists would come to Philly to trade the pelts and crops that they harvested in exchange with Britain for goods and food that the fisherman pulled from the Philadelphia Harbor.
A lot has changed since then, but Philly’s obsession with seafood has not.
15 Avoid - Topeka, Kansas: Because This Makes Sense
I told you in the introduction that most of the entries on this list would be from the coast. It is unfair to hold cities in the interior of the country to the same standards as cities who have fresh seafood harvested for them a few miles off shore but this list would be incomplete without a passing reference to this dichotomy.
I wanted to pick a city in the Midwest that offers some seafood restaurants despite the fact that it is thousands of miles from the ocean. Topeka, Kansas is a good example. The city is home to half a dozen seafood restaurants, none of which are very good.
14 Absolute Best - Good Southern Cooking in Charleston, South Carolina
A lot of the entries on this list are from the northeast but now we get to move south for some old time southern cooking. Out of all the cities in the deep south, Charleston has the best reputation for its seafood. Charleston is the capital city of South Carolina and it has been around since before the American Revolution. It got its start as a major merchant and fishing hub and not much has changed since then.
Since so many fish are being brought into the Charleston harbor, it is only natural that they have a few good seafood restaurants.
13 Avoid - Houston, Texas: All Beef and No Seafood
I was initially surprised to see how bad the reviews were for seafood in Houston, Texas. Houston is the largest Texas city that is close to the ocean, so you would think that it would be an important center for the states seafood industry. After giving it some thought, however, it became clear to me that there isn’t a seafood center in the state of Texas.
Texas is famous for its cattle industry, and the state’s reliance on beef has hindered the development of other foods and recipes. This includes seafood. Therefore, it is not surprising that the seafood restaurants in Houston have such a bad reputation.
12 Absolute Best - Provincetown Massachusetts Off The Coast of Cape Cod
A lot of the entries on this list are major cities but big urban centers aren't always the best places to get good seafood. Sometimes, the best seafood restaurants are found in little seaside towns like this one. Provincetown is famous among New England tourists because it is located on the very tip of an archipelago surrounding Cape Cod and it is the home to a vibrant, open community.
Provincetown is also home to the Lobster Pot, one of the best seafood places that I have ever eaten at. It is also consistently ranked by travel sites as one of the best places to get seafood in New England.
11 Avoid - Denver, Colorado: No Good Seafood Miles High
Cities in the United States go through trends. In the past decade, cities like Detroit, Michigan have appreciatively declined while places like Denver, Colorado have become significantly more affluent. As more and more people and money flood into Denver, it will have more things to offer.
One thing that it does not currently have in abundance, is good seafood restaurants. The Rocky Mountains separate Denver from the sea, and that has apparently been enough to keep good seafood out of the Mile High City. It just isn’t feasible for sea creatures from the Pacific Ocean to make it over these mountains and remain fresh.
10 Absolute Best - Join Stephen King in Georgetown, Maine
As a state, Maine doesn’t have a lot of things that it is famous for. Despite the fact that Pine Tree State does not have any national acclaim outside of what it gets for being the homeland of celebrity author Stephen King, the residents of Maine are still very proud of their state.
Another thing that Maine is known for is its seafood, particularly lobster. There are several cities along the coast that boast good seafood restaurants, but Georgetown might be the best. On a list of best seafood restaurants in New England, Georgetown had three of the top ten entries.
9 Avoid - New York City: The Big Apple Has Everything but Good Seafood
New York City is the largest city in the USA, and it isn't even close. Anything that you could possibly imagine, you can get in New York City. The Big Apple has a seemingly unlimited variety of shops, tourist attractions, and restaurants. This includes several seafood places. But quantity does not always equal quality.
New York City rarely shows up on lists of greatest seafood cities in the country and you are much more likely to get a bad seafood place than a good seafood place in NYC. I have also heard that some neighborhoods in New York City have better seafood than others.
8 Absolute Best - Join the Hipsters in Portland, Oregon
When people think of Portland, Oregon, they don’t normally think about their seafood. This is a mistake.
Portland is nationally renowned for being one of the super progressive cities in the Pacific northwest and there are a ton of vegetarian and vegan options at just about every restaurant that you can go to. This is true, even of the best seafood restaurants. I am not a vegetarian myself, but I do think that it is cool that seafood places are offering some different options. According to my sources, the seafood options in the city that offer real seafood are also very good.
7 Avoid - Providence, Rhode Island: The Scourge of New England Seafood
I was very surprised to find that the seafood in Providence, Rhode Island doesn't have a very good reputation. Rhode Island isn't a very big state but most of the state is coastline and Providence is really their only major city. Apparently, most of the good seafood restaurants are in Massachusetts and other parts of the northeast, so the best fisherman don't even try to sell their wares in Providence. The only ones that do usually being in a subpar catch, thus lowering the value of the meal. It is hard for Providence to compare with the seafood in Boston, so it looks like they don’t even try.
6 Absolute Best - Baltimore, Maryland Has One Thing Going for It
As a city, Baltimore, Maryland is in a serious downslope. Years of economic struggle and mismanagement have seriously lowered the standard of living in Maryland’s biggest city. One thing that they do have going for them, however, is the cities great seafood.
Baltimore remains one of the major port cities on the East Coast and there is a flourishing fishing industry along the coast of Maryland. The seafood restaurants in Baltimore take advantage of these natural resources. There are two restaurants in the city that are consistently ranked as the best places to get seafood on the East Coast.
5 Avoid - Head Inland to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
When I lived in Pittsburgh, people were constantly telling me that I had to check out some of the seafood restaurants in the city. I was initially skeptical but a few weeks before I moved away, I decided to try one of the Burghs most popular seafood restaurants. It was not very good. I understand that fish markets area huge industry but if your city is hundreds of miles away from the ocean, maybe opening a seafood restaurant isn't a good idea. Fish just doesn't stay fresh the way some other foods do.
4 Absolute Best - Head North to Anchorage, Alaska
If your state gets a brand of seafood named after it, then you must be doing something right with your seafood industry.
Alaska crab isn’t just available in Alaska, it is actually available in most parts of the United States. To get the freshest Alaskan crab, however, you have to go to the source. After doing some research, I discovered that Anchorage is the best Alaskan city for seafood. Anchorage is one of the biggest cities in the state so they have the resources and customers to support several sea food restaurants. From the reviews that I read online, it appears that almost all of these are very good.
3 Avoid - Myrtle Beach, South Carolina: Good For Spring Break, Not So Much For Seafood
For all their problems, cities like Myrtle Beach, California are fun. Myrtle has the natural advantage of being next to one of the most beautiful beaches in the country and the restaurants and bars in the city are particularly catered to tourists.
One issue with Myrtle is that their primary target for tourism is college kids. As a rule, people that go someplace for spring break aren’t usually worried about the area's fine cuisine. This is the problem with the seafood in Myrtle Beach. There is no market for good seafood in the area, so all that you have left are cheap, fly-by-night locations.
2 Absolute Best - The Big Easy New Orleans, Louisiana
Even people who normally do not eat seafood love the seafood in New Orleans.
Because of the Cajun culture that is almost unique to the city, the seafood in the Big Easy is totally different from the seafood that you can get anywhere else in the country. You can eat gumbo and jambalaya without even realizing that the main meat base is seafood.
New Orleans is also at the confluence of the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico, so the catch itself comes from two direct sources. It is easy to see why New Orleans is one of the absolute best places for seafood in the U.S.
1 Avoid - The Down South Cooking of Jackson, Mississippi
I was surprised to learn that so many cities in the deep south have apparently terrible seafood.
It seems like the urban legend of superb southern cooking does not always extend into the realm of seafood.
Jackson, Mississippi is another example of this phenomenon. The capital city of Mississippi is infamous for having terrible (and potentially dangerous) seafood restaurants.
A couple of years ago, the local catch went bad, causing several restaurants in the area to sell a bunch of meals that led to food poisoning. There are several entries on this list of restaurants with bad seafood but there aren’t many who have seafood that can potentially be so bad for your health.