88 Sleeper St • 617 426 2722 • $$$
This colorful fish shack is most congenial in the summer, when diners sit outdoors at picnic tables, but there’s also indoor seating with a cozy wood-burner for chillier days. Most of the local fish – cod, haddock, tuna, halibut, clams, and crab – are so fresh that they need only the most simple preparation.
The Seaport flagship (see Legal Harborside) of the Legal Sea Foods chain makes dockside dining chic. You’ll find a no-frills, casual dining room, oyster bar, and a traditional fish market on level one; there’s fine dining featuring beautifully prepared fish on level two; while level three offers a four-season rooftop lounge and bar, with retractable glass roof and walls, serving ocean-fresh sushi and cocktails. All three spaces come with a stunning harbor view.
Exceptionally fresh choices from the raw bar vie for attention with dishes from the expertly prepared dinner menu. Choose an old favorite, such as clam chowder, or a more daring dish like Spanish octopus with hazelnut romesco. The simple dining room of this restaurant (see Neptune Oyster) ensures that the food is the focus of attention. Reservations are not accepted so arrive early and be prepared to wait for a table – it’s worth it.
3 Mechanic St • 617 723 6273 • Closed L Mon • $$$
Mare specializes in Italian coastal cuisine. Begin with the raw bar or a trio of crudos, then savor a classic seafood pasta dish or grilled fish – or indulge yourself with a decadent lobster roll on brioche, along with a plate of fries. A few meat dishes are also available. To accompany your meal, enjoy a cocktail or glass of wine from their enticing drinks menu.
15½ Fish Pier • 617 423 2705 • $
Fish Pier’s only restaurant has an intimate relationship with the fishermen who both sell their catch to, and eat at, this bare-bones place. The very basic menu consists mostly of fried fish, while the great chowder is full of what fishermen call “trim” – chunks of whatever has been caught, boned and trimmed that day.
Combining Japanese tradition and American invention, this elegant restaurant (see O Ya) proves that good things come in small packages. Offering both sweet and savoury dishes, half the menu is sushi and sashimi, and the other half meat and vegetarian. With six chefs at work, each bite-sized portion is exquisitely executed. Ask for the omakase (tasting) menu and let the excellent head chef Tim Cushman wow you with a culinary tour de force.
550 Tremont St • 617 423 0550 • $$$
This brightly lit underground seafood spot is both oyster bar – there are a dozen varieties ready to be shucked at any moment – and seafood bistro.
15 Northern Ave • 617 423 5500 • Closed evenings • $
A family-owned business located right on Fort Point Channel, Hook is primarily a broker that supplies lobster to restaurants throughout the US. However, they also cook lobster, clams, crab, and some fin fish on the spot. Take your order, sit on the sea wall, and chow down. Many visitors find it the best place to eat good, reasonably priced seafood.
50 Dalton St • 617 867 9955 • Closed L Mon–Fri Nov–Mar • $$
Boston celebrity chef Jasper White literally wrote the book on lobster, but he’s just as adept with wood-grilled fresh fish and delicate fried shellfish. A fabulous raw bar and colorful summer fish-shack atmosphere match well with the extensive beer list. It’s a great place to bring kids who like to crack their own crabs.
500 Commonwealth Ave • 617 532 5300 • Closed L Mon–Sat • $$$
Partly owned by the Duxbury oyster farm of the same name, this upscale yet casual restaurant excels at shellfish (including eight varieties of New England oysters) and does great things with fin fish, too. Their seafood casserole brings together shrimp, lobster, clams, scallops, and cod in a single delectable bowl.