Where to Find the Best Fresh Seafood Spots

In the Pacific Northwest, where seafood is king, picking the best seafood eateries is no easy feat. But three essential criteria help narrow it down: source, freshness and preparation. White tablecloths, the perfect wine pairing and fingerbowls all fly out the window—not that there is anything wrong with those—the Northwest is full of some of the best fine-dining seafood restaurants in the world, as a trip to the Seattle Waterfront will attest. But the list below is simply my assembly of favorites based only on the essential criteria. The effort to get to them is well worth it. 

Samish Oyster Bar and Shellfish Market, Taylor Shellfish, Bow, Washington 

Cultivated on site, shellfish doesn’t get any fresher. To add to the fun, you get to prepare it yourself and dine at the beachside picnic tables. Shuck your own oysters (instructions provided) and slurp them raw or set them on the grill over an open fire until they pop open. Other delicacies are often offered as well, like clams and mussels. Wine and beer are available for purchase. taylorshellfishfarms.com 

Hama Hama Oyster Saloon, Lilliwaup, Washington 

Take the scenic drive along Highway 101 as it traces the shoreline of Hood Canal. This fifth-generation, family-run oyster farm highlights fresh Hood Canal oysters grown right offshore. Various preparations of succulent grilled oysters or raw on the half-shell grace the menu, along with other items like seafood chowder. The dining room is picnic style, outdoors. Beer and wine are available. hamahamaoysters.com 

Local Ocean Seafoods, Newport, Oregon 

The location on Newport, Oregon’s Bayfront, right across the street from the fishing fleet, positions Local Ocean to get the freshest catch every day. The menu offers an array of seafoods in a number of creative preparations, some classic and some straight from the chef’s imagination. Try timeless classics like Niçoise Salad and fresh ideas like the Tuna Rueben made with pastrami-spiced grilled tuna. A full list of libations is available as well. localocean.net 

Tracy’s King Crab Shack, Juneau, Alaska 

The long lines at Tracy’s Crab Shack tell the whole story. Alaska king crab, prepared to perfection, is the star of the show at this popular restaurant on the dock in Juneau. And the wait is worth it. Once you get in and place your order, you will be jockeying for a spot to sit and enjoy your feast. It’s a bit of a splurge—king crab is in short supply at present. So, why would you stand in line to eat at a busy, pricey restaurant? The big, meaty, sweet crab legs, that’s why. Kingcrabshack.com 

Alaska Fish House, Ketchikan, Alaska 

Ketchikan is a sport fishing capital with fishing lodges and day charters to give guests a memorable fishing experience. While your fishing guides prepare your catch for transport home, Alaska Fish House, located on Ketchikan’s waterfront downtown, will give you a taste of your own catch. That’s right: You catch it, they’ll cook it. Salmon and halibut are the typical catch in Ketchikan waters. If you don’t have your own catch, you can order seafood specialties from their menu. No matter which entrée you order, start with their smoked salmon chowder. exclusivealaska.com/fish-house