As summer lunches go, it’s hard to improve upon a fresh lobster roll or crisp fried clams, best eaten with a water view, the salty breeze blowing by. New York can’t quite compete with the romance of a roadside shack in Maine or Connecticut — but it certainly holds its own on the seafood front. Here are five “fish shacks” we love; some reasonably water-proximate and shack-like, some a little more dressed up for Manhattan.
Red Hook Lobster Pound
It’s hard to argue with Red Hook Lobster as the city’s truest seafood shack destination, particularly its original location in Red Hook, with picnic tables and tanks of live lobsters. It doesn’t hurt that they make a mean lobster roll — whether you go for the cold mayonnaise version or the warm butter one. The East Village location and always-popular truck mean that there are plenty of ways to get your fix, but if it’s atmosphere you’re looking for, head to Red Hook itself. Multiple locations, and additional appearances at food markets and from Red Hook’s mobile truck, redhooklobster.com
The Gowanus canal may not match coastal New England for scenery, but its seafood could give anywhere up north a run for its money, with steamers and fat-bellied fried clams and a mean lobster roll. The stylishly stripped-down, nautical interior just adds to the appeal. Look for a Greenpoint location opening later this month. 288 3rd Ave, Brooklyn, 718-522-1921, littleneckbrooklyn.com
Shipping lobster down from Maine each morning, Luke Holden staked the reputation of his business on a superlative lobster roll, and it passes with flying colors. But that’s not all that’s worth an order; the shrimp rolls and crab rolls are equally tasty and gentler on the wallet, with the same butter-griddled split-top bun and drizzle of lemon butter. Cape Cod chips make a great accompaniment. multiple locations, lukeslobster.com
Pearl Oyster Bar
Down one of those impossibly quaint West Village side streets, Pearl Oyster Bar is one of the more dressed-up seafood establishments on this list, equally suited to an indulgent lunch or a weekend date. The fried clams are particular standouts but you can’t go wrong anywhere on the seafood-heavy menu. (Don’t miss their shoestring fries, either.) 18 Cornelia St., 212-691-8211, pearloysterbar.com
Ed’s Lobster Bar
It may be in the middle of SoHo, but Ed’s Lobster Bar is plenty nautical, celebrating New England seafood with lobster in many forms, an extensive raw bar, and a menu that ranges from steamers to mussels to linguine with clams. While the lobster roll is pricey, it’s also massive and expertly made. 222 Lafayette St., 212-343-3236, lobsterbarnyc.com
For fish shack style, check out 8 of New York’s best oyster and seafood happy hours.
Discover more of top places to see and things to do while in New York City with our Best of New York series.