Even a small step away from shore turns a meal into an adventure. Here, we've rounded up the best seafaring restaurants on America's coasts.
Steve Millburg Tracey Minkin and Betsy Cribb
1 of 6Photo: Carolyn Fong
New York, New York
There has never been a better reason to walk the gangplank than this: a platter of fresh oysters, a crisp cocktail built from sauvignon blanc and summer fruits, and a view of Lower Manhattan from the water. This is the maritime magic of Grand Banks, a tiny restaurant, raw bar, and museum built aboard a gorgeously restored historic schooner that has established itself in just two summers as one of New York's hottest culinary hangouts. The small but mighty menu showcases oysters from both coasts, as well as sustainably fished catch. Grand Banks is open from early May through October; grandbanks.org.
2 of 6Photo: Erick Hendricks
San Francisco, California
Touristy gimmick or inspired bit of whimsy? Opinions differ. But how can one pass up the chance to dine on what is purportedly the world's only floating island, complete with live palm trees, a beach, a waterfall, and a 40-foot lighthouse? Forbes Kiddoo built the island as a floating home, launching it in 1980. He now anchors just off Pier 39 in San Francisco Bay. Visitors enjoy French cuisine in the wood-paneled below-decks dining room, warmed by a fireplace and entertained by fish swimming past the portholes. The round-trip shuttle to the island is complimentary; 415-951-4900, forbesisland.com
3 of 6Photo: North River Lobster Company
North River Lobster Company
New York, New York
Because a lobster roll tastes best with a salty breeze on your face. This floating lobster shack will take you for a spin around the Hudson so you can indulge in seafood dive classics like lobster rolls, fish & chips, and peel-and-eat shrimp, all while taking in views of the New York skyline; northriverlobsterco.com
4 of 6Photo: Moshulu Restaurant
For sheer visual splendor, the Moshulu (pronounced moe-SHOO-loo) ranks number one. Interiors of this four-masted tall ship, launched in 1904 as a cargo vessel, combine the wood-paneled splendor of Titanic-era luxury liners with a tasteful Polynesian theme. The outdoor deck tables afford sweeping views of the Philadelphia skyline and waterfront. The ambitious international fusion menu enchants most diners, and no one complains about the setting; 215-923-2500, moshulu.com
5 of 6Photo: Thai Life Floating Restaurant
Thai Life Floating Restaurant
Key West, Florida
Pair a chef from Southeast Thailand with a prime spot on Charter Boat Row, and you've got Key West's coolest Thai restaurant. Docked just a mile from the famed Duval Street, this colorful eatery serves authentic Thai curries and noodles and a host of seafood dishes. Finishing up a day out on the water? You can bring your fresh catch to the restaurant, and they'll prepare it any way you like it; thailifekeywest.com
6 of 6Photo: Johnny DiMillo
DiMillo's Restaurant & Lounge
Lobster rules the menu and Portland Harbor rules the views on this striking vessel moored at Long Wharf. The 206-foot-long restaurant seats more than 600 patrons. It began life in 1941 as a humble car ferry. The DiMillos, who have run restaurants in Portland since 1954, have kept this very much a family operation. As the menu pledges, "There is always a DiMillo on board;" 207-772-2216, dimillos.com
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