Seafood in Philly: The Ultimate Guide

Looking for somewhere to get crabs, lobster, fried shrimp, or fresh fish? You've come to the right place.

Vernick Fish | Facebook

This city has had a tricky relationship with seafood over the years.

Back in the day, it basically lived on fish cakes and oysters. And we’ve had some truly famous fish houses over the years. But lately, seafood restaurants have struggled here. Despite our history, despite our easy access to fish and shellfish, dedicated seafood operations have struggled to find traction and even some of the classics have gone dark.

And yet, there are still a few restaurants out there making a go of it. Now we’re not talking about sushi places (we already have a list of those) or steakhouses that also serve seafood (we’ve got a list of those, too). This list is for those places that identify first and foremost as seafood restaurants, or which handle sea creatures so well that knocking out plates of fish, octopus, or oysters have become their defining thing.

So let’s get started, shall we? We’ll begin with…

The Seafood Restaurants You Must Try First

Vernick FishCenter City
Vernick Fish is the spot to go when you’re looking for a ball out over an impressive array of ceviches and crudos, small plates of broiled oysters and jerk shrimp, and a seasonal, rotating whole fish (right now, it’s a whole dorade over rice with a pinenut tehina sauce) that hits just right every single time you go. 1 North 19th Street

Oyster House, Center City
If you’ve lived in Philly for ten minutes, you’ve already heard of Oyster House. If you work in the city, you’ve probably already spent many (barely remembered) lunches there. Fresh oysters, gin cocktails, lobster dinners, and fisherman’s stew are this spot’s specialty — plus crab cakes, lobster rolls, and punches that will put you on the floor if you’re not careful. 1516 Sansom Street

Pearl’s Oyster Bar, Reading Terminal Market
Because sometimes, you just need oysters for breakfast. Or some fish tacos and a bowl of old-school mussels for lunch. Pearl’s has been around forever, and it’s been serving Philly’s seafood needs for just as long. 51 North 12th Street 

seafood scene

Sid Booker’s Shrimp Corner. Photograph by Jason Varney

Sid Booker’s Shrimp CornerNorth Philly 
It’s worth going out of your way for the fried shrimp at Sid Booker’s, a Philly institution that’s been around for basically forever. Go simple: Order as many fried shrimp as you can eat, and save room for the potato chips that soak up all the shrimp-y goodness underneath. 4600 North Broad Street

Clam Tavern, Clifton Heights
There are basically two of this place, one right across the street from the other. But the Original Clam Tavern (as opposed to the Broadway Bar & Grille) is the O.G., and that’s where you want to get a seat for your baked clams, shrimp cocktail, and stuffed flounder. 339 East Broadway Avenue

Estia, Center City
This place flies in fresh fish from the Mediterranean to stock its menu. That’s pretty badass right there — and a strong statement in a place so close to its own sources of local and regional sea creatures. 1405 Locust Street

Caffe Aldo Lamberti, Cherry Hill
An Italian restaurant, absolutely. But one that focuses on the seafood, with fish flown in daily, a whole spread of carpaccio and crudo, plus whole lobsters, cioppino, crab legs and baby Spanish octopus with artichoke hearts and pesto. 2011 Marlton Pike West

Pinefish, Washington Square West
Let me just say this: All-you-can-eat crab legs and Old Bay duck fat fries for $45.95. Think you can eat more than $46 worth of crab legs in one sitting? Because I know I can. 1138 Pine Street

Best Seafood Restaurants in Center City and Rittenhouse

best seafood restaurant rittenhouse philadelphia

Luke’s Lobster | Facebook

Luke’s Lobster
Honestly, there might be other lobster rolls served in this city, but I wouldn’t know. I only get mine at Luke’s. 130 South 17th Street and 17 South 11th Street

McCormick & Schmick’s
Just as there are big, chain steakhouses that dominate the red meat landscape, so too are there big, chain fish houses that serve a variety of seafood in upscale surroundings tailor-made for draining people’s expense account per diems. McCormick & Schmick’s is one of those — big, lovely, competent, and expensive as hell. 1 South Broad Street

Ocean Prime
And Ocean Prime is another one of the same — plus a little sushi, $12 tater tots and deviled eggs with white truffle and caviar. 124 South 15th Street

Devon Seafood Grill
Order the mini lobster rolls, a bowl of lobster bisque, a prime filet and half-pound lobster tail, a side of mashed potatoes and a couple cocktails to wash it all down. 225 South 18th Street

Best Seafood Restaurants in Queen Village and Old City

 

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Little Fish
Little Fish is such a perfectly Philadelphian restaurant — a tiny, brilliant, neighborhood BYO with a menu so small and carefully curated that it’s hand-written by the kitchen staff every night. 746 South 6th Street

Olde Bar
Bookbinder’s started serving oysters and seafood in Philly back in 1898. Now, 120 years later, with a new name and Jose Garces in the kitchen, it’s got a bit of a New Orleans bent to it, but it’s still doing some of the finest seafood and oysters in Philly. 125 Walnut Street

Mari BYOB
Italian classics, like a monkfish piccata, or spaghetti and crabs, or fried calamari, done exactly right. 795 South 3rd Street

Bloomsday
Bloomsday isn’t really a seafood restaurant, except when you dig a little deeper and realize they have the city’s best selection of imported tinned seafood, and a very good Thursday night happy hour deal of dollar oysters. 414 South 2nd Street

Positano Coast
Another restaurant from the Aldo Lamberti family, this one specializing in the seafood of the Amalfi Coast. The dining room is beautiful, and there’s outdoor seating and a raw bar, plus a large wine list. 212 Walnut Street, 2nd floor

Best Seafood Restaurants in South Philly and the Italian Market

best seafood restaurant south philadelphia

Anastasi Seafood | Facebook

Anastasi Seafood
Once upon a time, the Anastasi family sold crabs out of the living room of their house on 9th Street. These days, they operate out of the former Neuf space in the Italian Market, serving buck-a-shucks, crab cakes, bowls of mussels, fresh fish and, of course, lots and lots of crabs. 1101 South 9th Street

 

Best Seafood Restaurant in Fishtown, Port Richmond, Northeast Philly and Beyond

Bonk’s Bar
A revamped menu and beer list earned this recently revived neighborhood staple a Best of Philly in 2017. Hit them up the next time you’re craving good beer and a crab boil. 3467 Richmond Street

Kensington Quarters
Kensington Quarters has lived many lives, but it’s current iteration is as a fancy seafood spot with a focus on ingredients sourced from the mid-Atlantic. Think trout roe cacio e pepe, trout amandine, fluke tartare, and lots of raw oysters.

The Shake Seafood
Another New Orleans-inspired joint for Philly, the Shake is doing baskets full of fried fish and Cajun fries, crab legs, corn and hushpuppies. But the big draw are their bags — pounds of crab legs, head-on shrimp, clams, and oysters, served in a bag with Cajun spices, corn, or potatoes. 2141 Cottman Avenue

Bob’s House of Crabs
Long lines. Lots of crabs. May as well start waiting now. 2933 West Lehigh Avenue

Gallo’s Seafood
They’ve got a huge menu, and have been serving lunch and dinner daily for decades. So if you’re looking for a place that’s put in the years and knows a thing or two about frying fish and boiling lobsters, Gallo’s has you covered. 8101 Roosevelt Boulevard

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A BYOB with an open kitchen that puts out impressive seasonal raw bar towers and excellent, simply prepared plates of fish, like wild grouper with chicory greens and butter and Nova Scotia salmon with a dill cream sauce.