Nashville
1. The Optimist
Germantown
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Anyone who has visited chef Ford Fry’s original home of The Optimist in Atlanta knew Nashville was in for something good when he decided to open an outpost in Germantown. After what seemed like a really long time for construction to be completed, it was clearly worth the wait. The more casual fish camp vibe befits the unfussy menu of hot appetizers and starters from the raw bar followed by a seafood-centric offering of beautiful main plates. Highlights include a prototypical New England lobster roll with hand-cut fries, a rich halibut presentation with blue crab and crawfish étouffée and a surf-and-turf offering of wood grilled swordfish, smoked short rib, and cowboy caviar.

2. Red Perch
Sylvan Park
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If your Platonic ideal of fish and chips demands that they be inspired by an English “chippy,” you just haven’t tried the Australian version from Red Perch yet. A beer batter fries up fluffy and crispy gold around delicate cod, and the house-made tartar sauce is perfect for slathering on the fish or for dunking fantastic fries. The seafood sensations don’t stop at cod with catfish, flounder, calamari and shrimp on the menus as delightful options. AHi or salmon poke bowls are also great choices.

3. Boston Commons
East Nashville
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Formerly known as Batter’d and Fried, the owner leaned into his New England roots with the menu and the name change. In addition to Northeastern staples like lobster, clams and scallops, the already excellent Boston chowder gets a Southern update as “Growder,” creamy clams ladled over spicy cheese grits and sprinkled with bacon and more cheese. It’s a delicious regional melting pot.

4. Urban Grub
12 South
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While much of the menu at this cavernous restaurant focuses on charcuterie and wood-fired meats, the seafood selections at Urban Grub are plentiful and excellent, as well. Build a seafood tower from a changing list of fresh items from the raw bar or enjoy oysters raw with apple mignonette and sriracha cocktail sauce or roasted over a wood fire. Seafood main dishes include shrimp & grits, seafood pasta made with squid ink and lobster claw spaghetti, and an Asian-inspired platter of perfectly seared scallops served with miso caramel, julienned apples, ginger and bok choy. In fact, it’s just plain inspired.

5. Acqua
Germantown
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This chef-driven restaurant focuses on the seafood of the seas that surround the boot of Italy. Multi-course dinners can range from 12 to 18 plates, artfully constructed presentations of creative combinations of exotic ingredients. While the menu changes frequently based on availability and the whim of the chef, almost every savory course revolves around seafood. It’s a pricey evening, but it’s a trip.

6. Blue Moon Waterfront Grille
Sylvan Park
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Seafood always seems to taste better if you can see the water while you’re eating (even if you’re only looking at the Cumberland River). Tucked into Rock Harbor Marina, Blue Moon Waterfront Grille is a floating restaurant on a barge with both indoor and outdoor dining areas. The menu features tropical dishes like coconut shrimp and grilled mahi-mahi, as well as Southern favorites like po-boys and fried catfish. For a taste of the ocean in the middle of a river, it’s worth a visit.

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