People always assume that if a city isn’t a stone’s throw away from the Pacific or Atlantic Ocean that it couldn’t possibly serve dishes with fresh seafood. Obviously, if you’re located on a coast, you’re going to have easy access to fresh seafood. But most respectable restaurants these days can have top-notch seafood flown in to them the same day it’s caught. Whether you’re looking for a platter of freshly shucked oysters or a perfectly seared fillet of halibut, these 10 seafood-focused restaurants will not let you down.
Bacalao (St John’s, NFLD)
There’s a lot of seafood to enjoy on the menu here, but cod will forever be a staple of Newfoundland cuisine. Try it in a variety of applications, like a seared fillet with cauliflower puree, mixed into a dipping sauce for crispy calamari or, for the more adventurous, a cod tongue salad with bacon, beets and walnut oil.
Blue Water Cafe (Vancouver, BC)
Located in the Yaletown area of Vancouver, this is the place to go if you’re looking for refined service and well-prepared seafood. Start off small with a fresh smoked salmon terrine or tuna carpaccio before moving on to the main courses, which could be anything from sturgeon or ling cod, to lobsters and crabs fresh out of the tank. I’ll take that one, please, and I think I’ll name him Sebastian.
Catch Restaurant and Oyster Bar (Calgary, AB)
A fixture of the Calgary food scene for over 12 years, Catch has had a long legacy of chefs work in its kitchen, including Top Chef Canada season three’s Nicole Gomes. With Chef Dan Norcott running the show now, he keeps the bar as high as ever when it comes to the food. Plates like the spot prawn salad with citrus and endive or the seared halibut with potato pave, peas and asparagus are almost too pretty to eat. Almost!
Catch Restaurant and Oyster Bar: Halibut (left) and Spot Prawn Salad (right)
Five Fishermen (Halifax, NS)
In a historic building that’s nearly 200 years old, the restaurant itself hasn’t been serving food quite that long, but is a staple of the Nova Scotia dining scene nonetheless. There’s a lot to offer on Fishermen’s long menu, but if you want plate of seafood upon seafood, then the lobster-stuffed scallops or the crab-crusted haddock will probably catch your eye.
Five Fishermen: Lobster Pasta (left) and Lobster Roll (right)
Rock Lobster (Toronto, ON)
Lobster poutine, lobster rolls, lobster boils, lobster mac ‘n cheese… The list of the ways in which you can devour some delicious east coast lobster goes on and on at any of the three locations for this small seafood-centric empire. Rock Lobster’s chef and host of the new Super Snack Bros Matt Dean Pettit, aims to keep his food fun in the lively restaurant atmosphere. The Rock Lobster cookbook also came out recently, so if you want some lobster inspiration at home, this book has got you covered.
Rodney’s Oyster House (Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto)
With two locations in Vancouver, one in Calgary and one in Toronto, this oyster house restaurant chain is slowly popping up across the country. The restaurants are mostly known for their fresh oysters when it comes to food, but the real charm of a true Rodney’s lies in its friendly wait staff that have very friendly tableside manners. Who doesn’t enjoy a little special attention every once and awhile?
The RawBar at The Fairmont Pacific Rim (Vancouver, BC)
This Japanese-style restaurant composes beautiful plates of sushi for guests of the hotel and hungry Vancouverites alike in the heart of downtown. It doesn’t matter if you’re ordering a plate of sashimi for a light bite or something more filling like the smoked sablefish, every single seafood protein on the menu is 100% Ocean Wise-certified. No easy feat for a restaurant that’s all seafood!
RawBar: Sushi Platter
Sobo (Tofino, BC)
One of the features of this tiny west coast town’s food scene (which is surprisingly substantial, considering its size), Sobo is bursting at the seams with good, honest food that perfectly highlights seafood caught in the waters just a couple blocks away.
The fish tacos is arguably the most famous dish here, but the smoked wild salmon chowder is perfect for any rainy day, and the broiled oysters are also memorably delicious. Just thinking about them makes me want to have one right now.
Sobo: Broiled Oyster (left) and Chowder (right)
The Whalesbone (Ottawa, ON)
With its original seafood shop location and now a sister oyster bar, you can either pop by for a simple sandwich or chowder at the shop or come by with friends, have a drink, some oysters and order off the concise dinner menu at the bar, which offers dishes like scallop ceviche and fish cake banh mi.
Whalesbone: Oysters (left) and Seared Fish Fillet (right)
YEW (Vancouver, BC)
The many ways Ned Bell works with sustainable seafood (they’re 100% Ocean Wise-approved) here keeps people coming back again and again. There’s the award-winning chowder with smoked cod and candied sablefish, crispy-shelled lobster tacos with maple and lime, albacore tuna with pork belly and a whole lot more. What’s even cooler, YEW launched a new cocktail program earlier this year with an entire list of drinks inspired by the different oceans of the world. A drink inspired by the Rock of Gibraltar? Don’t mind if I do!
YEW: Scallops and Shrimp Dish
Dan Clapson is a food writer and culinary instructor based out of Calgary. He is constantly creating new recipes and striving to expand his culinary horizons. He thinks yam fries are overrated.