The fact that Seattle is surrounded by water is good news for both your stomach and your social media account. Just kidding - it’s not news at all. It’s pretty obvious. But our proximity to the water does mean we have access to some of the best seafood in the country, and if you want to find out where to eat it, you’ve come to the right place. Whether you’re looking to reach your annual fresh oyster quota, eat some quality sushi, or just have a Nice Piece of Fish for dinner, use this guide to get it done.
RockCreek is the place to go if you want to be continuously reminded of the fact that you’re eating fish. Why? Because the massive babbling brook artwork makes it difficult to forget the theme of your meal. In any case, the fish here is delicious - you’ll find everything from oysters to filets that change with the seasons. Luckily, the shrimp and cheddar grits (our favorite dish) is a mainstay. This is a good option for a nicer date or dinner with the parents.
Matt’s In The Market has had the same fried catfish sandwich on its lunch menu for more than 20 years, and there’s a reason. The reason is that it’s amazing. This thing is just crispy catfish, sambal mayo, and shredded romaine on untoasted potato bread. If you’re trying to play hooky at work, make this your day-off lunch - just hope you don’t run into the interns. If you do, catfish sandwiches make good bribes.
If you’re looking to eat your very first oyster (or your 6,387th), there’s no better place to do it than at The Walrus And The Carpenter. Get them either fresh, with shallot mignonette, or fried, with cilantro aioli. If there’s octopus on the menu, you’re going to want some of that, too - do it all with a glass of sparkling rose at the big marble bar overlooking baskets of oyster shells. It’s a Seattle rite of passage, which means there are going to be a lot of other people trying to do the exact same thing. (Get a drink next door at Barnacle while you wait.)
While we’re on the subject of oysters, Taylor Shellfish is another good spot to be slurping them. But instead of sipping champagne and gazing into the eyes of your date, here, you’ll probably be drinking local beer, watching sports, and having a fried prawn po’boy on the side.
This dive bar in Fremont is our first choice for sitting on a patio, eating fried seafood, and drinking beer. The breading on the fish is crunchy, and it’s all simple and flavorful, especially dunked in their housemade tartar. Whether you go with fish and chips, crispy cajun-spiced shrimp, or the salmon pesto sandwich, this is a great way to spend a sunny summer afternoon.
Manolin is a Greatest Hit because of the combination of its tasty seafood and attractive space. The menu is Southwestern-leaning, and you can get anything from grilled cod with mole and cilantro cream to a very refreshing rockfish ceviche with avocado and fried sweet potato strands. Sit at the bar or outside on the patio, if you can.
Vinnie’s is an excellent Belltown bar that specializes in natural wine and seafood. The best part about this place is that there are a ton of different options. You can slurp oysters on the half-shell, have clam chowder, eat steamed butterfish in dashi broth, and even order what Vinnie’s calls “seacuterie” - a combination of tasty octopus terrine, halibut rillettes, and salmon pastrami. Everything is excellent, but make sure you order the butter-poached shrimp cocktail.
So you want some quality seafood, but you don’t want to spend your entire utility bill on one meal. And you still want to be eating in a nice space worthy of out-of-town guests or a date. Also, the sun is out. For this very specific scenario, we give you a very specific solution: the 100 Pound Clam. It’s a warm-weather stand on Lake Union with a pretty patio lined with picnic tables and string lights, and it works for oysters and champagne but also fish and chips (with a very addictive pickle mayo) and hard cider.
Bait Shop is another excellent spot for fish and chips. The french fries here are some of the best in Seattle, but the battered cod shines, too - on its own, on a sandwich with homemade tartar, or in a couple of Baja tacos. Pair it all with a Painkiller slushie and a game of Uno with friends.
Elliott’s Oyster House is a touristy move, but if you’re hanging out with out-of-towners or pretending you’re on vacation, it’s not a bad idea to spend your money here instead of at the overpriced ferris wheel on the pier. The view of the water is excellent, it’s a festive place for oysters, and the patio is great for day-drinking and catching up. If oysters aren’t your thing, the salmon pesto sliders are excellent.
There are a few ways to do Sushi Kashiba. You can wait in line for a seat at the sushi bar, or call ahead and book a table. Either way, you’ll end up eating some very, very high-quality fish. In addition to the omakase, there are a few set menus (in the $75-$85 range), or you can go a la carte. It’s worth the money for the best sushi in the city.
Before Sushi Kashiba even existed, its chef (Shiro Kashiba) founded this place. Shiro himself has since left, but you’ll still be in good hands - it remains a Seattle sushi institution. The best way to eat here is to wait in line, sit at the bar, and get the open-ended omakase. Just make sure you have the strength to tell them to stop serving you before your wallet is empty.
Little Chinook’s is a tiny counter-service operation that serves nearly every type of fish and chip: salmon, halibut, clams, shrimp, ling cod, and more. It’s the perfect rainy-day lunch (especially paired with a chowder), and you can eat it all while looking at all the yachts on the Salmon Bay docks. If you’re with an out-of-towner who wants a “Seattle” experience and you’re not interested in dealing with crowds at Pike Place Market, share some fried fish here.
The view of the water from Aqua’s deck makes it easy to appreciate the Puget Sound while eating some serious seafood. Come here on a special occasion, like with your parents so that they can pay the bill. Bask in the elegant space while you order crab cakes, one kind of fish stuffed with another kind of fish, and $98 worth of king crab legs with black truffle aioli. Thanks, parents.
We’d weave through hundreds of Pike Place tourists sampling artisanal honey on wooden sticks for the blackened salmon sandwich from Market Grill. In fact, we have. Many times. This sandwich comes with caramelized onion, romaine, and rosemary mayo on a charred baguette, and it’s one of the best seafoody things you can eat in this city. The grilled halibut, herby clam chowder, and tuna poke here are also great, too.
Some of the best seafood Downtown isn’t simmered into chowder or packed in a basket with fries. It’s hidden in this tiny, cash-only taco stand that we’re shocked doesn’t have a line down the block. Mariscos Mexico specializes in dishes like catfish soup with saffron broth, fried calamari topped with chipotle aioli, and tacos filled with sweet chili-blackened shrimp or nut-crusted halibut. Mariscos Mexico also has one of the best values for seafood in town - any two of their giant tacos range from $7 to $11.
No Anchor is not a seafood restaurant - it’s a beer bar. But it earns its mention in this guide for its awesome shellfish rolls. You can choose between very lightly dressed Dungeness crab and shrimp with lemon aioli and a spicy sauce, both of which are served on homemade pretzel buns (with homemade potato chips on the side). One of those paired with a cold beer and you might as well be in Maine.
Fremont Bowl is where to go if you want tasty seafood in large quantities and at relatively low prices. They specialize in donburi bowls, and you want one of those with fish on top. We love the seared salmon that cuts like butter, but you can also get poke, broiled eel, or, if you’re really starving, chirashi with tuna, chopped fatty tuna, salmon, yellowtail, albacore, shrimp, freshwater eel, and masago. Take full advantage of the housemade smoky soy sauce.
From raw oysters to delicious lobster roll sliders to even an amazing cheeseburger, there’s something for everybody at this champagne parlor in Ravenna. Nobody’s stuck with seafood if they’d rather have something like fried chicken or a burger, and for the ones who do want something from the ocean, the options are excellent.