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12 Seafood Restaurants to Catch Great Wine

Set your course for these spots to sample the finest from the sea and cellar
Topper’s at the Wauwinet holds <i>Wine Spectator</i>'s highest award of wine list excellence, the Grand Award.
Photo by: Topper’s at the Wauwinet
Topper’s at the Wauwinet holds Wine Spectator's highest award of wine list excellence, the Grand Award.

Posted: September 8, 2015

Updated: Sept. 13, 2018

Meat with red wine, fish with white. The age-old adage may give you pairing confidence in a pinch, but when frequenting these wine-centric seafood spots, you can let the experts take the reins. Americans have learned to love the bounty of the sea, and fresh, creative fish dishes always brighten any lunch or dinner out. Fish houses, French, Italian and Mediterranean restaurants are all serving exceptional seafood, and many of the best have wine lists to match.

We’ve picked 12 restaurants across the United States where the chefs and sommeliers know how to pair and showcase the best from the sea and the cellar. The Wine Spectator Restaurant Award–winning seafood destinations listed below each offer well-chosen, quality wine lists that display vintage depth and excellent breadth across multiple regions. For more options, see Wine Spectator’s more than 3,700 Restaurant Award–winning picks, including 281 Restaurant Award–winning seafood restaurants and the 91 Grand Award recipients worldwide that hold our highest honor.

Do you have a favorite you’d like to see on this list? Send your recommendations to restaurantawards@mshanken.com. We want to hear from you!


Bleu Provence

1234 Eighth St. S., Naples, Fla.
Telephone (239) 261-8239
Website www.bleuprovencenaples.com
Open Dinner, daily
Grand Award

Andrew Meade
Sommelier Clement Cariot presents a bottle from the Grand Award–winning list at Bleu Provence.

In the 20 years since Jacques Cariot and his wife, Lysielle, opened Bleu Provence, the wine program has grown to 3,580 selections and 30,000 bottles of inventory. The couple's passion for wine, as well as the quality of their food and service, has raised the standard in this sunny small town on Florida’s Gulf Coast. The food has French roots, and the menu offers a wealth of locally inspired seafood dishes, including Provençal fish soup, pan-grilled mussels, and loup de mer (Mediterranean sea bass). When it comes to French wines, the Grand Award–winning list is an embarrassment of riches—especially from Burgundy, Bordeaux, the Rhône, Champagne, Provence, Languedoc and Roussillon. Italy and California are strongly represented as well.


Topper’s at the Wauwinet

The Wauwinet Inn, 120 Wauwinet Road, Nantucket, Mass.
Telephone (508) 228-8768
Website www.wauwinet.com/dining
Open Lunch and dinner, daily; closed Oct. 28, 2018, to April 18, 2019
Grand Award

Topper’s at the Wauwinet
Topper’s at the Wauwinet takes advantage of New England ingredients on its seafood menu.

The Wauwinet has been hosting parties on the eastern shore of Nantucket since the elegant Victorian inn opened in 1875. Today, the dishes at Topper’s, such as seafood risotto and North Atlantic halibut, are all based on local products but also include more worldly flavors. Chef Kyle Zachary strikes a delicate balance of satisfying guests who expect classic New England fare as well as those looking for something new. The 1,500-bottle wine list functions similarly: Wine director Craig Hanna’s program has an abundance of classics from California, Bordeaux, Burgundy, the Rhône and Italy alongside offerings from up-and-coming regions around the world.


Emeril’s New Orleans Fish House

MGM Grant Hotel, 3799 Las Vegas Blvd. S., Las Vegas, Nev.
Telephone (702) 891-7374
Website www.emerilsrestaurants.com/emerils-new-orleans-fish-house
Open Lunch and dinner, daily
Best of Award of Excellence

Steven Freeman
Emeril Lagasse brings his Creole-inspired seafood and love of wine to Las Vegas at Emeril’s New Orleans Fish House.

Emeril Lagasse is a serious wine buff—and it shows. Seven of the restaurants in his culinary empire hold Restaurant Awards, including his homage to seafood, Emeril’s New Orleans Fish House. The Vegas dining destination brings a taste of New Orleans to the Strip, with chef Jean Paul Labadie’s Creole-inspired dishes such as shrimp and andouille pork sausage gumbo and fried shrimp po’boys. The coastal cuisine is accompanied by a 1,470-selection wine list, with particular focus on California, Burgundy, Bordeaux, the Rhône, Italy and Germany.


Farallon

450 Post St., San Francisco, Calif.
Telephone (415) 956-6969
Website www.farallonrestaurant.com
Open Dinner, daily
Best of Award of Excellence

Farallon
The fruits de mer platter is a great way to kick off a seafood-focused meal at Farallon.

There's no shortage of great seafood in San Francisco, but Farallon, located in bustling Union Square, is well worth a visit. The whimsical under-the-sea decor sets the scene for the ever-evolving menu, created by chef-owner Mark Franz and executive chef Jason Ryczek. With strengths in France (especially Burgundy and Champagne), Austria and California, the 600-selection list overseen by wine director Luke Kenning offers countless seafood-friendly pairings. There’s also an eclectic by-the-glass program.


Fiola Mare

3050 K St. N.W., Washington, D.C.
Telephone (202) 525-1402
Website www.fiolamaredc.com
Open Dinner, daily; lunch, Tuesday to Sunday
Best of Award of Excellence

Fiola Mare
Chef Fabio Trabocci's Fiola Mare serves up seafood with a decidedly Italian slant.

Fabio Trabocchi, a native of Italy’s Marche region, owns three Restaurant Award winners—Fiola, Fiola Mare and Del Mar—in Washington, D.C., each of which demonstrates his longstanding commitment to the culinary heritage of his native country. At Trabocchi’s seafood restaurant, Fiola Mare, diners experience traditional coastal Italian dining along the banks of the Potomac River. The dedication to authenticity is also evident in the Italy-focused list built by wine director Casper Rice, which features 1,300 selections, with strengths in Piedmont, Tuscany, Burgundy, Bordeaux, California and Champagne.


Jamestown Fish

14 Narragansett Ave., Jamestown, R.I.
Telephone (401) 423-3474
Website www.jamestownfish.com
Open Lunch and dinner, daily
Best of Award of Excellence

Maaike Bernstrom
At Jamestown Fish, chef Matthew MacCartney's seafood dishes offer a taste of summertime year-round.

Nestled in the heart of Jamestown, R.I., on Narragansett Bay, Jamestown Fish seems like a quintessential New England restaurant. But with an upstairs bar, an outdoor gourmet pizza patio and year-round hours, it's far from your average seafood shack. Just as the restaurant serves many functions, owner Matthew MacCartney wears many hats. When he's not in the kitchen as executive chef, he's in the main dining room, offering wine-pairing recommendations as wine director. The 605-selection wine list, which has strengths in Burgundy, Piedmont, France, Italy and California, easily complements MacCartney's seasonal menu.


Lahaina Grill

127 Lahainaluna Road, Maui, Hawaii
Telephone (808) 667-5117
Website www.lahainagrill.com
Open Dinner, daily
Best of Award of Excellence

Lahaina Grill
The artwork hanging throughout Lahaina Grill's 130-seat dining room is by Maui artist Jan Kasprzycki.

Opened in 1990 as a small, 55-seat bistro, Lahaina Grill has transformed into one of the most lauded restaurants on the Hawaiian island of Maui. Led by executive chef Arnulfo Gonzalez, Lahaina Grill offers globally inspired dishes with a focus on fresh, locally sourced ingredients, as seen in creations like sautéed mahi-mahi, Kona coffee–roasted rack of lamb and osso buco with local veal. Wine director Richard Olson III's list of more than 400 selections—with strengths in California, France and Italy—offers plenty of options for sea, land or surf-and-turf pairings. The wine list includes a featured winery and sommelier picks to help guests discover something new.


Le Bernardin

155 W. 51st St., New York, N.Y.
Telephone (212) 554-1515
Website www.le-bernardin.com
Open Lunch and dinner, daily
Best of Award of Excellence

Ball & Albanese
Chef Eric Ripert of Le Bernardin wrote the book on seafood in fine dining.

Over the past few decades, chef Eric Ripert has maintained Le Bernardin as, arguably, the best fish restaurant in New York, if not the world. The menu boasts a vast selection of expertly prepared fish—Dover sole, monkfish and striped bass, to name a few—and other sea-inspired dishes such as tuna carpaccio and lobster-truffle pasta. A generous bowl of fresh and smoked salmon rillettes greets every diner at Le Bernardin, all the better to try as you sip one of the dozens of luxury Champagnes on the restaurant’s Best of Award of Excellence–winning wine list. The 1,000-selection list indulges Ripert’s Bordeaux obsession, but wine director Aldo Sohm has also added strong labels from Burgundy, Germany, Austria, California and Champagne.


Legal Sea Foods

26 Park Square, Boston, Mass.
Telephone (617) 426-4444
Website www.legalseafoods.com/restaurants/boston-park-square
Open Lunch and dinner, daily
Best of Award of Excellence

Legal Sea Foods
Legal Sea Foods' Park Square location in Boston boasts the largest list of all 10 Restaurant Award–winning outposts.

Counting 10 Restaurant Award winners, Legal Sea Foods has developed a reputation for being attentive to finely tuned wine pairings. The Boston Park Square location boasts 800 selections organized by wine director Sandy Block that are strongest in California, France (especially Burgundy) and Italy, with both standbys and surprises. Executive chef Rich Vellante makes it a priority to educate employees on pairing techniques, emphasizing the importance of matching a seafood dish’s sauce and texture to the wine.


Ray’s Boathouse

6049 Seaview Ave. N.W., Seattle, Wash.
Telephone (206) 789-3770
Website www.rays.com/boathouse
Open Lunch and dinner, daily
Best of Award of Excellence

Ray’s Boathouse & Cafe
Dine with a view of the Puget Sound at Ray's Boathouse.

Featuring sweeping views of the Puget Sound, Ray's Boathouse has close ties to the water. The restaurant started as a coffee shop in a boat rental and bait house, and today it’s a Seattle dining destination. Chef Paul Duncan honors its origins by serving fresh seafood sourced through personal relationships with nearby fishermen. Wine director Chip Croteau manages the 520-selection wine list with strengths in Washington, California, Oregon and France. To enjoy the view in a more casual setting, check out the onsite café that offers plenty of local wines.


The Sardine Factory

701 Wave St., Monterey, Calif.
Telephone (831) 373-3775
Website www.sardinefactory.com
Open Dinner, daily
Best of Award of Excellence

The Sardine Factory
The Sardine Factory, which features a lengthy and impressive wine list, has been in business for 50 years.

If you’re looking for a time-honored fish restaurant, head to Monterey, Calif. There you’ll find the Sardine Factory, a Central Coast mainstay that has been serving seafood to the stars since 1968. Of the restaurant’s many claims to fame—including the appearance of its abalone bisque at President Ronald Reagan’s inaugural dinners—wine lovers will be most excited by the extensive cellar, managed by wine director Stephen Caldwell. It boasts 1,600 labels from California, Burgundy, Bordeaux, Italy and beyond.


GT Fish & Oyster

531 N. Wells St., Chicago, Ill.
Telephone (312) 929-3501
Website www.gtoyster.com
Open Lunch and dinner, daily
Award of Excellence

Eric Kleinberg
Chef Giuseppe Tentori's seafood-centric dishes at GT Fish & Oyster are perfect for sharing.

Opened by chef Giuseppe Tentori in 2011, GT Fish & Oyster offers the best of both coasts to the Midwest. The seasonally rotating menu of small plates presents traditional seafood dishes with modern twists, such as hamachi crudo with jicama, grilled corn and thai basil, oyster po'boy sliders with kimchi and peanuts, and black bass with celery root agnolotti. Wine director Jon Leopold’s fish-friendly wine list naturally skews sparkling and white (mostly from France and California), but also offers some great red options.


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