Nothing says “fresh” like great seafood, and right now the full-service restaurant space is spoiled for choice when it comes to fish. Whether you’re looking for a beachy, island-style grill, or surf ‘n’ turf and white tablecloths, one of these popular restaurants is sure to fit the bill. Here are six of the best seafood chains in the U.S.
McCormick and Schmick’s
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Ralph Smith Photography
McCormick and Schmick’s
McCormick and Schmick’s is so obsessed with freshness that they print out their menu twice daily to ensure that the absolute best seafood is being highlighted at all times. That’s takes some serious dedication when you have 46 restaurants across 20 states. Bill McCormick and Doug Schmick founded their restaurant empire back in the 1970s, and the brand, which isn’t limited to seafood, has been growing ever since. In addition to serving up the freshest fish in their restaurants, the chain also extends its reach through catering, as well as hosting meetings, events, and more.
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It would be impossible to write a list of favorite seafood chains without mentioning Red Lobster and its beloved Cheddar Bay Biscuits. Since opening the doors to its first restaurant in Lakeland, Florida in 1968, the brand has been on a mission to be “where the world goes for seafood, now and for generations.” And as the largest seafood company in the world, with more than 700 locations on four continents, it seems like they’ve achieved that. Promotions like their Endless Shrimp, Lobsterfest (now with lobster-and-waffles!) ensure that seafood fans will be seeking out this staple for years to come.
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There are some seafood restaurants that are all about the laid-back island lifestyle. Not Cameron Mitchell Restaurants’ Ocean Prime, where glamour and decadence are the name of the game. Though the first restaurant opened as Mitchell’s Ocean Club in Columbus, Ohio in 2006, the name quickly changed to reflect their premium menu offerings when the group began expanding out of state. Ocean Prime specializes in over-the-top dishes like their “smoking shellfish tower,” lobster mashed potatoes, and juicy steaks, alongside a premium wine and cocktail list. Now in 12 states, their expansion won’t be slowing down any time soon: new locations are opening in Denver in fall of 2018, and Chicago in spring 2019.
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If wood-grilled seafood is your thing, then Bonefish Grill is where you want to be. From a single St. Petersburg, Florida, restaurant in 2000, the group has grown dramatically to include 199 restaurants in 32 states. The vibe is laid-back and comfortable, but that doesn’t mean the food isn’t outstanding—high-quality, seasonal ingredients, combined with details like locally created “Neighborhood Catch” dishes, mean that guests can enjoy gourmet food without the fine-dining trappings. Bonefish maintains its quality by keeping all but two of its stores under company control, helping it to provide consistency of experience from California to Kentucky, and everywhere in between.
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Is “sea-to-table” a thing? Because that’s probably how you should categorize Pappadeaux. This family-owned seafood chain is so invested in freshness that they even own their own fleet of trucks to bring the fish straight from the docks to their restaurants. Since opening their first restaurant in 1986 in Houston, the brand has been steadily expanding across Texas, with additional locations in seven other states; their 40th store opens in Lawrenceville, Georgia, at the end of May. And while the Louisiana-inspired menu may include etouffee and po’ boys, dishes like the Texas Redfish Pontchartrain ensure that there’s still plenty of Lone Star State style to go around.
King’s Fish House
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King's Fish House
King’s Fish House
As part of the larger King’s Seafood Group, King’s Fish House has more than 70 years of seafood experience behind it. The Southern California-based chain is big on sustainability: they own and operate their own distribution center in Santa Ana, giving them control over how all of their seafood is raised, sourced, caught, and delivered. It also means that each restaurant gets the freshest possible product, usually only hours after being caught. While the menu encompasses a little bit of everything, their SoCal-influenced dishes like grilled wild Pacific swordfish tacos (with homemade chips and guac) are where they really shine. There are currently 11 locations in California, Arizona, and Nevada.