Parson's Chicken & Fish
Nostalgia reigns at this new Logan Square fish joint, where you have to walk past a 1977 El Camino on the patio to get in the door. Chef Hunter Moore offers a wealth of updated fish-shack classics: Crispy clam rolls come with an earthy-fresh celery-root rémoulade, butter lettuce, and house-pickled peppers in a soft bun, and the baccalà fritters are perfect and light, a winning combination of whipped salt cod and creamy potato.
Connie & Ted's
Only in West Hollywood would a fish shack have lights embedded in the ceiling that depict actual constellations—but even the food shines brighter at Michelin-starred chef Sam Baxter's modern interpretation of the New England seafood joints he visited as a kid. Lobster rolls are served in house-baked buns, and the 16 varieties of oysters plucked from a custom-made case can be eaten deviled with a Dijon-mustard-cream sauce and homemade bread crumbs or just freshly shucked.
New York City
You'll likely take the subway or a taxi to this reclaimed-wood-covered "shack" in midtown, but mooring a boat would be more appropriate. Chef Todd Mitgang continues the city-meets-the-sea theme in the kitchen, where he turns out an upscale fish taco with roasted-tomato salsa, homemade crema, and culantro, while the omnipresent lobster gets elegantly dressed in a chu chee curry with charred red onion and fresh bamboo shoots.
The Optimist Fish Camp & Oyster Bar
Subtle nautical stripes and high ceilings give this power-lunch hot spot (right) a beachfront vibe despite its landlocked setting. Craft alum Adam Evans serves whole roasted local trout with occasional southern touches, including hush puppies dusted with powdered sugar and scallops served with grilled Vidalia onions and a rich chicken jus. After your meal, hit the outdoor three-hole putt-putt course with a pitcher of the house Skippy Punch—gin and Campari topped with thyme syrup, lemon, and a citrusy IPA.
Cull & Pistol
New York City
Tucked inside the gastronomic paradise of Chelsea Market, chef Dave Seigal's recently opened minimalist wood-and-tile restaurant pays homage to traditional fishmonger culture in both word—the name is a reference to lobsters that have lost their claws—and deed: The fish and chips is a delicately fried beer-battered hake fillet served alongside smoky paprika fries. The surf and turf pairs a perfectly grilled hanger steak with one giant deep-water prawn, both swimming in a lobster jus made with stewed shells from the Lobster Place next door.
Fishing With Dynamite
At his 36-seat beach-cottage-styled restaurant, Manhattan Beach chef David LeFevre (his acclaimed M.B. Post is just two doors down) serves spiced-up old-school fish-shack staples—the Maryland-blue-crab cakes come with house pickles and a mustard rémoulade—alongside Asian-inflected remakes: A lime-flavored Pacific-tuna tartare is served over pear and cucumber with a kimchi-seaweed dressing.
20 Feet Seafood Joint
There are a few cursory nods to a nautical theme (a ship's wheel, some rope), but chef Marc Cassel lets the food transport you to a distant shore in his bare-bones East Dallas eatery. The Nova Scotia lobster roll piles mounds of the sweet meat, dressed with lemony mayonnaise, in a soft house-made challah-style bun; elsewhere on the menu, Ipswich clams are breaded with panko before being fried to a perfect crisp and served with the chef's own "secret ingredient" tartar sauce.
PLUS: Two New Seaside Classics
If you're craving a fish shack within claw's reach of the shore, two amazing new ones are worth leaving the city for: In Montauk, Turf dishes gourmet clams with roasted grapes on buttered toast out of a repurposed Airstream trailer parked beside über-hip Ditch Plains beach. On the left coast, the Santa Monica–based Roll'n Lobster truck serves hard-to-find East Coast shack staples at swim spots near Marina del Rey. The fresh Maine-style lobster roll comes with mayo and celery in a split-top bun—the perfect après-beach treat.