Food & Drink

Order Fresh Seafood From These Atlanta Restaurants

Fresh seafood is flown into Atlanta from all over the world.

Sure, Atlanta may be located four hours from the closest beach, but there are plenty of seafood offerings. “When it comes to seafood, freshness is key to a restaurant’s success. Atlanta has one of the largest airports in the world, so fresh seafood can be flown in from Hawaii, Europe, Greece, and New Zealand,” says Pano Karatassos, executive chef of Kyma in Buckhead. “We are able to get seafood 18 to 36 hours out of the water. Atlanta also has the benefit of seafood delivery from local states like Florida, Virginia, and the Carolinas.”

When you’re choosing which seafood to feast on at an Atlanta restaurant, Karatassos suggests opting for Florida black grouper, red snapper, Virginia black bass, hardshell clams, and soft shell crab. “Always ask the restaurant where their seafood is coming from. For example, you want Ahi tuna from Hawaii, octopus from Spain, and Branzino from Greece,” he says. When it comes to local products, he's a fan of Georgia white shrimp and oysters from Georgia hatcheries.

So, where does the chef and cookbook author like to go for seafood in Atlanta? “The Optimist. Ford Fry has done a great job with their oyster bar and sustainable seafood offerings.”

Kyma

Buckhead
The Greek restaurant has been a mainstay of Piedmont Road since 2001. The oak-grilled octopus is beloved, but Karatassos and his team put a light touch on all of their seafood dishes from the fried lobster morsels to the sautéed scallops. Recently, the restaurant redesigned its lounge and added outdoor garden seating. The space is dubbed the Ouzo Bar and Dining Room and hearkens to Santorini’s beachside taverns. You can order pours of ouzo (an anise-flavored spirit) to pair with mezze (shareable appetizers) like stuffed grape leaves, lamb pie, and zucchini fritters. The star of the show here is the whole fish which includes fish flown from the Aegean Sea. You can dine inside, on the patio, or order curbside takeout.

The Optimist

West Midtown
The Optimist sits on congested Howell Mill, but once you approach the patio and lawn (complete with a putting area) you feel removed from all of that. The restaurant has strong coastal vibes, especially the bar, which is sunny and features an oyster bar. Start with one of the crudos (like the scallop with pineapple), some crispy oysters, and a lobster roll. The hushpuppies are a must. You can dine in the dining room or patio.

The Big Ketch

Buckhead
The interior of this Buckhead restaurant is coastal, but the real draw is the covered patio. If you're looking to do some patio dining while chowing down on crab dip and peel and eat shrimp this is the place. On Wednesdays they make 20 orders of their lobster egg rolls -- so plan accordingly! The Big Ketch is currently open daily for dine-in, patio, and takeout daily for lunch and dinner.

C&S Seafood & Oyster Bar

Vinings
Located in an unassuming shopping center in the Vinings area, C&S is an upscale hidden gem. The restaurant’s interior is luxe with plush seating and wood accents, and has an impressive selection of seafood on display. If you're feeling fancy -- and if you're dining here, you probably are -- order one of the plateaux de fruits mar. The "le petite” includes six oysters, six clams, four shrimp cocktail, and a half pound of crab. They also make a killer Old Fashioned with rye,  18.21's Prohibition Bitters, demerara syrup, cherry juice, and burnt orange peel. Open for dine-in lunch on weekdays and for dinner every night.

Ray’s on the River

Sandy Springs
Of the three Ray's locations (the others are Downtown and in Alpharetta), Ray’s on the River offers the best ambiance. There are plenty of views of the Chattahoochee from inside the restaurant and as dining has shifted towards outdoor seating there’s plenty of that, too. Must-order dishes on the menu include the jumbo lump crab cake, the steakhouse wedge, and the honey glazed salmon. If you're feeling carnivorous there are also plenty of cuts of steak to choose from, too. You can dine in (or outside) for lunch or dinner. Curbside is available Monday through Sunday from 3-8:00pm. 

Drift Fish House & Oyster Bar

East Cobb
You have to head out to suburban East Cobb to dine at Drift, but it’s worth it. The restaurant is the creation of Doug Turbush, who also owns Seed right down the street, and specializes in wood-fired seafood. Sit at the bar and catch a glimpse of the fiery oven, or sit in one of their dining room's comfy booths. The Rhode Island calamari makes for a great appetizer and the scallops over English pea risotto is a delight. On weekends in the summer Drift offers a New England-style takeout menu dubbed Pop’s Lobster Shack. While Pop's is takeout only, Drift's dining room and patio are open for lunch and dinner.

Atlanta Fish Market

Buckhead
This Buckhead staple (found easily thanks to the larger-than-life fish sculpture up front) is a staple for a reason. The market-cum-restaurant lays claim to Atlanta's largest fresh wild caught fish selection. Choose from fish like Maine cod, Scottish salmon, and red snapper and then your preparation -- sautéed, broiled, or blackened? There's also raw shellfish, shrimp cocktail, and sushi rolls. Basically a seafood lover's dream. The restaurant is open for dine-in service as well as takeout.

Wahoo! Grill

Decatur
This cozy neighborhood eatery sits on the edge of downtown Decatur, and while the dining room is full of charm, it’s currently closed. However, the covered patio is available for dining (make a reservation) and is just as charming. Here, local is key. The restaurant tries to source ingredients as locally as possible like Blue Ridge Mountain trout (served with sugared pecans and pesto butter) and the peaches used in the peach salad. Takeout is also available.

Kimball House

Decatur
Found in a former train station, the stylish Kimball House has been lauded nationally for everything from its design to its oyster menu and (especially) its cocktail program. The oyster selection is one of the best in the city with bivalves hailing from Maine to the Gulf Coast to Washington. Don't miss the cheeky flavor descriptions like, "Lobster stock, enjoy a pils, kapow!”  The cocktail list includes classics like the French 75 (made with carbonated muscadet) and innovative creations like Broken Rose, a concoction of tequila, raspberry, vermouth, Campari, and maraschino. Their dining room is open for dinner Tuesday through Sunday and their Kimball Home takeout menu is also available.

Lapeer Seafood Market

Alpharetta
Part of the new Alpharetta City Center, Lapeer is a shiny jewel box of a restaurant. The bright and airy restaurant feels like it would be just as at home in a Hamptons beach town as it does in Alpharetta. Look for bold flavors on the menu like grilled mahi mahi with a miso-tamarind glaze and the red curry shrimp served with sticky rice. Open for dinner daily.

Las Costas Nayaritas

Duluth
Atlanta has a bustling Mexican seafood scene, and one of its stars is Las Costas Nayaritas. Popular dishes include the stuffed pineapple, the seafood soup which includes crab legs, and their tostadas which come in a variety of combinations. Don’t miss the live mariachi band. Las Costas Nayaritas is open for dine-in and offers curbside takeout.

Bon Ton

Midtown
In the time before the pandemic, Bon Ton was a fun, intimate restaurant with a strong New Orleans vibe (that tin ceiling!). The pandemic has forced them to switch to a takeout model, for now, though which means you can still get their beloved seafood offerings, only now you have to eat them at home. The takeout menu still offers seafood by the pound (get the crab legs) and delicious sandwiches like the Bon Ton Banh mi with a choice of fried shrimp, blackened catfish, or cauliflower falafel as a protein.

Steamhouse Lounge

Midtown
After 20 years in Buckhead, Steamhouse moved to a prime Midtown location in 2008 and has since become an anchor (sorry) of that neighborhood. It looks like an actual beach shack and sets the tone perfectly for a seafood feast. The lobster bisque is one of their most beloved dishes, and you can’t go wrong with the raw oysters, fried shrimp, or snow crab dinner. They currently offer outdoor dining only.

Cajun Seafood Market

Southwest Atlanta
What Cajun Seafood Market lacks in frills, they make up for ample portions of flavorful seafood.  You can order a variety of seafood by the pound, like snow crab, catfish, and scallops, and have it steamed to order. But, their fried seafood platters are also worth a try. Carry out only.

Bully Boy

Poncey-Highland
Found in a standalone building in front of sister restaurant Two Urban Licks, Bully Boy is a hotspot in its own right. It is temporarily closed, but worth keeping on your radar for when it reopens. They specialize in shareable seafood dishes like the rock shrimp “tots” with kimchi yum yum sauce, blue crab fried rice, and Maine lobster frites. Bonus points for being on the BeltLine.

Lure

Midtown
You can dine in the dining room of this upscale Midtown spot, but the covered, semi-enclosed patio is the place to be (even in the summer). It's a sure way to channel a seaside mood in the heart of Atlanta, and the tasty seafood doesn’t hurt. In addition to raw oysters there are broiled oysters prepared with bacon, mornay sauce, and breadcrumbs. For an entree, the George Bank’s scallops with pork belly, tomatillo salsa, and queso fresco is a zippy summer dish. Don’t skip the bottled cocktails.

Chops Lobster Bar

Buckhead
Found on the first floor of Chops the steakhouse, Chops Lobster Bar is where Atlantans go for the ultimate high-end seafood experience. You can order whole lobsters steamed or fried and, of course, a stunning seafood tower stacked with lobster, oysters, shrimp, and crab. You can also order the steak that Chops is so well known for. Dine-in is available.

Hammocks Trading Co.

Sandy Springs
Hammocks Trading has been bringing beach vibes to Sandy Springs since 2012. Especially on the covered patio decorated with nautical flair. Popular dishes included the grouper sandwich, served blackened with honey coleslaw, jalapeño hush puppies, and salmon roasted in banana leaves. You can dine in, or order takeout online

Six Feet Under

Grant Park
Oysters with a view of the city? Yes please! Six Feet Under has two locations, but its Grant Park one offers a treehouse-like setting with a stunning view of Oakland Cemetery and the skyline. Belly up to the counter and order a couple rounds of oysters and beers. Note, they are temporarily closed and when they reopen it will be for patio seating only.

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Lia Picard is a contributor for Thrillist.