Shellfish, displayed on ice in wire baskets, are the main attraction at Seattle’s Walrus & Carpenter, where the shucking of Pacific oysters is itself a work of art.
Such dedication to the finest local ingredients unites the best seafood restaurants across the globe, where what’s fresh is what’s for dinner. From spaghetti with sea urchin on the Amalfi Coast to crabmeat roasted over a fire in a coconut husk on the Thai island of Koh Samui, we hauled in a mouthwatering variety of fish.
For travelers, sampling the catch of the day is one of the most satisfying ways to feel like a native—here are 10 of the best places to do it.
Koh Samui, Thailand
At this family-run shack, tables in the sand are piled high with deep-fried red snapper and irresistible khoei jii (shrimp paste, crabmeat, coconut, and spices, roasted over a fire in a coconut husk).
Join vendors and tuna auctioneers from the neighboring Tsukiji Fish Market queuing up at dawn for a post-shift sushi breakfast at this 13-seat spot. You won’t find fresher toro in all of Tokyo.
Walrus & the Carpenter,
Pristine shellfish, displayed on ice in wire baskets lining a gleaming zinc counter, are the main attraction at this handsome Ballard oyster bar. The shucking itself is a work of art.
Chà Cá Thăng Long,
Northern Vietnam’s signature seafood dish takes a star turn at this Old Quarter canteen. Firm white snakehead fish is marinated in galangal, shrimp paste, and turmeric, then sautéed at your table over a charcoal burner and served with vermicelli noodles, fish sauce, and a mountain of dill.
Lo Scoglio da Tommaso,
Amalfi Coast, Italy
Pleasure yachts from Capri and Positano drop anchor for lunch perched over the Mediterranean. The only thing fresher than the peppery wild arugula salad is the ricci (sea urchin) in the spaghetti.
Hive Beach Café,
Burton Bradstock, England
A chalkboard menu behind the counter tells you what’s on offer (fish pies; grilled herring; a crab sandwich with chips) at this classic holiday spot.
On a tiny, car-free isle between Patmos and Bodrum, Turkey, this harborfront restaurant is a popular stop for the sailing crowd. Everything is impossibly fresh, from the crawfish sautéed in lemon oil to the creamy local goat cheese.
Sabina Bandera has crafted complex and flavorful seafood cocktails and ceviches—pismo clam, sea urchin, octopus, mussels, and more—from her humble street stall for almost 40 years. Don’t miss her house-made salsas.
Parador La Huella,
José Ignacio, Uruguay
Chic South Americans congregate amid the dunes for languorous midday meals that can last until dusk. Keep things simple with sea bass cooked over coals and a pitcher of clericó.
The oysters alone (from a farm up the road) are worth the hour-long drive from San Francisco to a dockside shanty on Tomales Bay. But a bowl of clam chowder feels particularly restorative on a foggy northern California day.
See more of the Best Seafood Restaurants Around the World.