With all that water nearby, New York City's a natural for seafood. Here are our picks for the best maritime menus on the island.
Pearl Oyster Bar
18 Cornelia Street, West Village area, 212/691-8211, pearloysterbar.com
Ask a New Yorker where to find authentic Maine cuisine and they'll probably say "Pearl." The Pearl Oyster Bar has cozy New England charm and offers a menu to match. The bill of fare features fresh catches of the day, but the lobster roll is a staple―and for good reason. Prepared in the traditional style of the Northeast coast, these rolls overflow with thick pieces of chopped lobster in a mayonnaise-based dressing, and come with a side of greens and shoestring fries. Arrive early or expect a wait: Reservations aren't accepted.
Blue Water Grill
31 Union Square West at 16th Street, Union Square area, 212/675-9500, brguestrestaurants.com
Indecisive diners should proceed with caution. The Blue Water Grill has sushi and raw bars in addition to a full-scale menu. At night, enjoy live jazz with a plate of the acclaimed blackened swordfish and sweet potato-crabmeat hash, or stop by for Sunday morning's "brunch-with-a-view," which overlooks the Union Square Park Farmer's Market.
Pier 17, 3rd Floor, South Street Seaport, Financial district/on the East River, 212/227-2800, harbourlightsrestaurant.com
If you haven't already fallen in love with New York City, then a visit to Harbour Lights may persuade you. With a breathtaking panorama of the Brooklyn Bridge and the East River, this restaurant claims to have the most romantic water view in Manhattan. Patrons can choose to dine inside or on the open-air deck. Treat your party to the Seafood Royal, a sumptuous sampler platter.
144 Union Street, Brooklyn, 718/855-2632
Many people would consider dining at Petite Crevette to be too much work: Tables are few, the establishment is cash-only, and patrons must supply their own wine. But frequent customers would advise you to sit back and enjoy the intimate setting and a bowl of rich chowder while the chef, working in an open kitchen, prepares some of the freshest fish in the city.
142 Mercer Street at Prince Street, SoHo, 212/431-7676, lurefishbar.com
With its spacious booths, porthole windows, and perfectly polished ship-theme decor, Lure could be mistaken for a luxury yacht. Accompanying the stylish nautical atmosphere is one of the most diverse (and by some accounts, the best and most reasonably priced) seafood menus in the city, offering a raw bar, a sushi bar, and a broad range of entrées. Save room for dessert―the ice cream sandwiches are a deliciously sweet ending to a sumptuous meal.
The Sea Grill
19 W. 49th Street, Rockefeller Center, Midtown, 212/332-7610, theseagrillnyc.com
Sophisticated and chic, this restaurant is perfect for a pre-theater bite, a private business meeting, or an anniversary dinner. The Sea Grill offers a classic New York view: In winter, the world-renowned ice rink; and in warmer months, a spectacular open-air seating option next to the iconic statue of Prometheus. When choosing dinner, consider any item prepared "a la plancha," a Spanish technique in which food is grilled on a special metal plate that helps retain its flavor.
Grand Central Oyster Bar & Restaurant
Grand Central Terminal, Lower Level, 87 E. 42nd Street, Midtown, 212/490-6650, oysterbarny.com
Savory seafood, rich history, and a lively crowd are all things you can expect from this New York City institution. The magnificent tiled ceiling and cavernous setting will wow visitors, although the boisterous crowd can be off-putting to those seeking a quieter atmosphere. A favorite dish of the regulars: fried oysters with tartar sauce and a side of fries, but we suggest mixing it up with one of their legendary pan roasts.