Best American Seafood Restaurant?

What makes a great American seafood restaurant?

I specify ‘American seafood’ to distinguish from the many great seafood offerings from specific cuisines such as Chinese and Japanese that have their own outposts in the US.

My three criteria:

  1. Menu must not specialize in deep frying. It can be a minor part of the menu but not the default preparation.
  2. Menu must not specialize in only one thing, such as lobster rolls, without much else on offer.
  3. Must be distinctively American, which is open to wide interpretation.

With my wife a seafood lover I have learned to plan whole trips around seafood. Maine lobster shack trips have become an annual tradition even though I am allergic. We try the high and low. Generally the high-end places that typically have a raw bar and overpriced fish filet entrees don’t do much for us. Neither the deep fry only style of place found along the Eastern seaboard.

We can’t possibly sample all so claiming one to be best is ridiculous, however here’s my new nominee: Winter Park Fish Co in Winter Park, Orlando.

Winter Park Fish Co Orlando 01

Winter Park Fish Co Orlando 02It is an upper-end seafood shack in a tony suburb. Everything is fresh. What impresses most is the many preparations, 16 just for fresh fish, and garnishes. The wait staff know their stuff and don’t hold back opinions.

The sides, in the tradition of Southern ‘meat and three’ places, are American traditions and done to a superb level. Below you see the mac & cheese and Parmesan tomatoes with my fish filet.

Winter Park Fish Co Orlando 04There are creative dishes on the menu such as the starter of PEI mussels, clams and & boiled peanuts that we wolfed down and nearly guzzled the garlic broth. The boiled peanuts are a beautiful touch of Americana.

Winter Park Fish Co Orlando 03And that dessert, oh my, only in America!

Winter Park Fish Co Orlando 05Readers, what is your nominee for best American seafood restaurant?

 

 

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  • Mama’s fish house in Maui.

  • Tom

    So glad to see you write about this wonderful spot! Originally a New Yorker, I live in Orlando now, and would take this fantastic “dive” over dozens of more supposedly sophisticated (and not so sophisticated) seafood restaurants I’ve been to over the years.

  • Jamie

    The best seafood I’ve been to would’ve been Singletons in Mayport, Fl just north of Jacksonville. Haven’t been there for years, though.
    Some other favorites include Whitey’s Fish Camp near Orange Park, FL (it might be in Flemming Island, in not positive). North Turn in Wilbur By the Sea (just south of Dayton is very good too. Oh, love the Crab Stop a chain of a couple of restaurants in the Daytona area.
    In Green Bay, WI there is a place called Mariques that is of the “everything fried” variety. But the fish is so fresh it is top of the class in that category.
    I’ve gotta say, though, that your Winter Park Fish Co looks better than most places I’ve been to.
    I’ll be consulting your Instagram feed next time I go back home and hitting a few of the places you went that I’m not familiar with. Looks like you found some good ones!

  • john

    Looks like an excellent meal as I am a big seafood lover…
    So RTC what are your current seafood favorites in NYC?

  • Rapid Travel Chai

    @john – we have gotten in a habit of eating mostly in Chinese restaurants in NYC, none are across the board great, though some have particular dishes such as the sea cucumber intestines at Royal Seafood on Mott Street.