Food With a View — the Most Amazing Waterfront Dining

Sadly, summer is over. And right about now you might be lamenting the fact that you didn’t get enough beach time on your vacation. But there’s still time for a waterfront escape, even if all you’ve really got time for is dinner.

In many cities around the country, dining at a waterfront restaurant can be a leisurely and breathtaking experience. You can feast on the freshest seafood, stare out at the water, and imagine that summer will go on forever.

Here are our seven top picks for waterfront dining.

Mastro’s Ocean Club, Malibu, Calif.


Mastro’s Ocean Club (Photo: Mastro’s Restaurants LLC)

Mastro’s Ocean Club has one of the wildest dining scenes you’ll find in the Los Angeles area. A steady stream of Beemers, Bentleys, and Benzes pulls into valet parking, and when the luxury car doors open, out come men in tailored suits and women in cocktail dresses and 6-inch heels. They’ll be eating lobsters, bone-in rib eyes, and chopped salads next to tables of casual-cool beachcombers who decided to pop by after a day of surfing or stand-up paddleboarding at Point Dume.


Warm Butter Cake (Photo: Mastro’s Restaurants/Facebook)

This upper-tier steakhouse and seafood restaurant has gargantuan portions, glorious ocean views, live music, and a famous warm butter cake that everybody always seems to make room for, even after the seafood towers and the 1-pound baked potatoes.

Related: Shellfish Safaris: the Top Spots to Catch Your Own Lobsters, Clams, Oysters, and More (It’s Fun and Easy!)

Legal Harborside, Boston


Legal Harborside is located in Boston’s Seaport District (Photo: Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism/Flickr)

If you’re in Boston, you’re going to want to eat New England clam chowder. Specifically, you’re going to want to eat Legal Harborside’s clam chowder while you enjoy the Seaport District’s views.


Lobster and mussels at Legal Harborside (Photo: Legal Harborside/Facebook)

Legal Harborside’s 20,000-square-foot venue offers a different experience on each floor. The casual oyster bar on the first floor is great for a quick bowl of chowder, a plate of raw shellfish, and a simple steamed lobster. The second floor offers more elegant dining and serves composed dishes like fennel-seared tuna with white beans or Cape Cod diver scallops with confit pork belly, sweet potato, mustard greens, and peach mostarda. The third floor is a rooftop lounge with lobster rolls, sushi, and, of course, that beloved clam chowder.

Harbor House, Milwaukee


Harbor House is located on the shore of Lake Michigan. (Photo: The Bartolotta Restaurants)

The Bartolotta family has a collection of stellar restaurants that range from easy fast food to the city’s best fine dining. The Bartolotta empire includes everything from a custard spot and pizza place to high-life eateries like Bacchus (contemporary American), Ristorante Bartolotta (classic Italian), and Lake Park Bistro (elegant French). But the most stunning setting of all is at Harbor House, which is located on the shore of Lake Michigan and has a menu featuring seafood flown in from both coasts.


Whole-Roasted Branzino (Photo: Harbor House/Facebook)

Along with stunning views, there are some amazing entrees, including lobster fricassee, Alaskan king crab legs, and a whole roasted branzino. You’re also also welcome to sit at the bar and slurp oysters for your entire dinner. The variety changes every day depending on what the country’s top purveyors have available, and with 89-cent oysters during happy hour, it’s no surprise that Harbor House sells more than 10,000 oysters each month.

George’s at the Cove, La Jolla, Calif.


You’ll find good food and beautiful food at George’s at the Cove. (Photo: Andrew Magill/Flickr)

George’s at the Cove is the multifaceted gem of the San Diego waterfront. It’s home to California Modern, the Ocean Terrace, for casual but scene-y rooftop dining with beautiful vistas, and George’s Bar, where you can watch football and eat fish tacos. The tasting menus at California Modern are popular among those with the most elite bucket lists, but you’ll also feel on top of it all soaking up the sun on the roof while you enjoy ceviche and spaghetti with clams.


Fish Tacos (Photo: George’s at the Cove/Facebook)

Related: In Honor of Summer’s Perfect Dish: The Top 10 Most Mouthwatering Lobster Rolls in the US

Ray’s Boathouse, Seattle


Having a relaxing dinner on the waterfront at Ray’s. (Photo: Ray’s Boathouse/Facebook)

Located on the shore of Seattle’s hip, family-friendly Ballard neighborhood, Ray’s Boathouse features spectacular views of both Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains. This fine-dining restaurant serves an all-over-the-map menu of fresh seafood prepared for a global palate. Start your meal with Ray’s Pacific Northwest chowder, made with tempura razor clams and smoked salmon, before eating sablefish entrees bursting with Asian or Italian flavors. Ray’s also has a more laid-back upstairs cafe that also seamlessly fuses international ingredients. Mediterranean mussels in a Thai red curry? Dinner here is always a transporting affair.


House Smoked Sablefish with jasmine rice, cucumber-daikon kimchi, miso glaze (Photo: Ray’s Boathouse)

Randazzo’s Clam Bar, Brooklyn, N.Y.


(Photo: Ian Westcott/Flickr)

No frills, all flavor. Located on Sheepshead Bay’s vibrant, bay front Emmons Avenue, Randazzo’s offers old-school Italian-American seafood splendor in an ultra-casual setting. Whether you sit outside on a bench or inside at the diner-style counter and tables, you’ll want raw clams, clam chowder, and especially fried clams with hot sauce. But the signature dish is Lobster Randazzo: a whole lobster plus shrimp and clams over a huge mound of buttery, lemony, garlicky pasta. If you prefer spicy red sauce with the same seafood, get the Lobster Fra Diavalo instead.


Lobster Fra Diavalo (Photo: bionicgrrrl/Flickr)

This restaurant captures Brooklyn diversity at its best. You’ll see multiple generations of Italian, Russian, and Asian families sitting next to hipsters who came in a Zipcar from Brooklyn Heights. And next to them will be tourists who heard about this place from celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain. There’s really nothing else like this in New York City.

Joe’s Stone Crab, Miami


Joe’s Takeaway in Miami (Photo: Joes’s Stone Crab/ Facebook)

This South Beach institution serves the best stone crab claws in Miami. And with stone crab season approaching (Oct. 15 to March 15), it’s time to start thinking about heading back there soon. Problem is, Joe’s Stone Crab is almost always packed; even VIPs endure long waits for tables. And Joe’s isn’t actually a waterfront restaurant. So we’re about to offer you a life-changing hack. Go to Joe’s Take Away, adjacent to the South Beach restaurant.


South Pointe Park is the ultimate definition of waterfront dining. (Photo: Bob B. Brown/Flickr)

The lines usually aren’t long here, so it’s easy to buy some stone crab claws — and add some raw clams, steamed lobster, fried oysters, and fried chicken while you’re at it. Take your well-packed bag, full of remoulade, cocktail sauce, napkins, and plastic cutlery, walk a block, and eat at the waterfront South Pointe Park. This is how smart locals avoid the throngs at Joe’s. Now you know too!

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