Here’s Where to Find the Hottest Seafood Trend Right Now (Hint: It Comes in a Tin)
Without the right beverage pairing, your can of conservas might leave you lost in a world of salty richness—no such worries at Bar Vivant, where the Champagne and sherry lists reach far and wide. Just take a look at their “Best Champagne and Sparkling Wine List” and “Best Sherry Bars in the Nation” accolades from The World of Fine Wine and Wine Enthusiast. Be sure to snag a can of butterflied mariposa fillets from Solano Arriola (Bar Vivant is the sole importer of these high-quality anchovies in the U.S.) as well as pastries from sister restaurant Pix Patisserie, just on the other side of the bar.
Among the seafood flinging of Pike Place Market sits the petit Jarr Bar, adorned in touches of blue and white in the woven bistro chairs, tabletop fish illustrations, and framed mirrors of all sizes. An accessible list of eight to nine tins includes crowd favorite sardines and the less common squid cured in it’s own ink (Pro tip: set your seafood feast for Sunday, when all tins are $2 off). In early 2018, owner Bryan Jarr and Seattle chef Zoi Antonitsas will expand the brand with Little Fish, a seafood restaurant and retail location serving canned-on-site Pacific seafood, putting Seattle tins on the map.
Saltie Girl’s collection of tinned seafoods—one of the largest in New England—is something to behold. The vast offerings sit displayed against pale blue shelving, accentuating their colorful and whimsical packaging. Tins like Don Bocarte’s fried white anchovies in caramelized onions come with French and wheat bread, in-house piquillo pepper jam, and butter from Vermont’s Ploughgate Creamery. Save some room for the fried lobster and waffles or one of the many gourmet toasts—if you can help yourself.
For her mid-century minimalist wine bar, Haley Fortier sought a menu more distinctive than ho-hum charcuterie boards. The answer: tinned seafood curated from Spain, Portugal, and Washington—a list that has already grown to 30 options in the bar’s first year. Balance the richness of the foie-gras-like tuna pate with a sparkling Chenin Blanc—Fortier, a Barbara Lynch Gruppo food group alumna, recommends the Pet-Nat style Domaine La Folle Berthe—and tangy house-made pickles. All other cans come with house-made cultured butter, parsley aioli, and espelette aioli.
Before the first taste of decadent tuna belly, your senses are already awash in Spanish vibes: in an interior inspired by Gaudi (or perhaps Tolkien), customers are surrounded by wood walls carved into undulating curves, like the base of some gigantic treehouse. Once you’ve perched on a wooden bench—or, in true San Sebastian fashion, staked out a spot to stand—peruse the canned specialties of white clams, bay scallops, and the prized cockles ($65 a pop). A spicy element for your Basque snack comes courtesy of a smoky aperitivo salsa, a crunch from local Neal Brothers’ kettle chip.
Chef Mike Wiley knows he could order high-quality catch from Spain or Portugal, but, “it makes a hell of a lot more sense” to make his own with fresh Maine fare. And so the sumptuous and sophisticated Hugo’s—practically a Portland institution—dove into their own version of preserved Maine seafood. The offers change based on seasonality, but the kitchen has made everything from mussels to mackerel, and is gearing up to try sea urchin this winter.
The decadent yet fuss-free roadside picnics of Route National 7 (the Route 66 of France) have come to New Orleans in the form of N7, aptly named after the highway running from Paris to the Côte d’Azur. Order tins of spiced calamari, habanero oysters, or stuffed squid in marinara as a rich appetizer before your main of steak au poivre or steamed mussels. Or, in true French vacances fashion, indulge in a bottle of natural wine, a cheese board, and your favorite tins and plop down with a blanket next to the old-school Citroen in N7’s driveway.
Stems & Skins
This Old-World-goes-mod North Charleston Bar has been serving quality tinned seafood since opening in early 2016—initially limited to crostini-toppers, but now front-and-center on their menu. Test the waters with inexpensive 3-oz. cans of paté from Jose Gourmet, then graduate up to the more adventurous uni and razor clams. On the boozy side of things, Stems & Skins earns their wine geek cred with on-tap Torres Verdeo Verdejo, as well as a wine list populated with light and funky natural wines.
If the bright white accents and half-lion, half-mermaid logo doesn’t give away the fun, social vibe of Barnacle, maybe the band of wire baskets heaped with Lay’s Potato Chips will. The petit, 13-seat Seattle bar is one of six (and growing!) unique concepts from Renee Erickson’s Eat Sea Creatures group, which also includes The Walrus and the Carpenter. Mainstays here include anchovies in Calabrian chili oil served with cultured butter and saltine crackers. But we suggest keeping it local with Sea Creature’s own can of smoked herring, wild caught in Alaska then smoked and canned in Washington.
New York City, NY
Maiden Lane’s small but mighty tinned seafood kingdom has spread to two locations in New York City and an online market delivering cans across the U.S. Order up Olasagasti’s can of whole anchovies that serves as a meal in itself, or go for a little Nordic flair with the unique (yet inexpensive) can of Iceland cod liver in it’s own oil. The velvety, butter-like spread just begs you to wash it down with a bottle from one of Maiden Lane’s coastal, Old World-heavy wine list.
Buy Tins Online
An expansive online shop carrying everything from Ortiz anchovies to Sicilian sea urchin sauce.
Despana Food Brands
Order Don Bocarte’s high quality anchovies from this importer of high-quality Spanish brands.
The New York tinned seafood hotspot curates online ordering similar to what you’d find in their restaurants.