The Lobster Place

The super hip neighborhood of Chelsea in Manhattan has become home to some of the neatest concepts in all of New York City. On a nice day, tourists and locals alike crowds the Highline to grab a nice view with a walk, and the restaurants in the area command ever higher prices. In the midst of it all, at the Chelsea Market touts concepts of all sizes. One of the bigger of these is The Lobster Shop, a seafood place where fish of all kinds cant be bought and the titular is crustacean is prominent in many a good dish.

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The Dock Food & Spirits

Eccentric. Colorful. A resort. All of these things describe the collection of beach themed decor and busy dining areas that is The Dock in Enon. The seafood restaurant has a ton of quirk with it, designed to make you feel like you’re at a beach in the middle of southern Ohio. For all that excitement, the place does a pretty good job with the seafood dishes it offers, and the pleasant experience the place brings grows on you pretty quickly. It’s easy to miss it for its location in a small town, but it’s also so much fun, it’s worth a little trip.

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The Original Waterfront Crab Shack

As one of countless seafood stands along Fort Walton Beach, Florida close to the highly-trafficked areas of Destin and Pensacola, The Original Waterfront Crab Shack cuts a pretty simple image along the marina just off the outer islands. While it sits a bit away from the areas tourists traditionally go, this spot is not to be overlooked, both for its waterside view and for its popularity with the local crowd, who seems to prefer the lower-key atmosphere over the loud, crowded tourist spots a few miles away.

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Hightide Restaurant & Oyster Bar

Just a few miles up the road from Destin on Florida’s Emerald Coast, Fort Walton beach largely avoids the mass of tourists that inundate it’s sister city. But this town, while a little lower key, totes some under the radar local restaurants too. If you’ve never been to a beach, you need to know that fresh seafood is a completely different ball game from what you have inland, so the more little dives you can find to feast on seafood, the better. Hightide Restaurant is just one of those, along the Miracle Strip it’s a great place you might miss on Okaloosa Island.

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Jay’s Seafood

Jay’s Seafood near Dayton’s Oregon District is a well-known surf and turf establishment near Dayton’s core specializing in upscale dinners. The catches of the day come in many different forms, but the spot knows how to make a variety of fish dishes, from simple clam chowder and fish tacos to lobster, top-shelf crab legs and oysters on a half-shell. A lot of potential in there. This is definitely a spot that is popular with the older folks, and the house is always packed, but Jay’s Seafood does fine dining in Dayton pretty well.

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Courtland’s Mobile Grill

A new food truck generally found around the Dayton area, Courtland’s Mobile Grill shows up around Courthouse Square downtown occasionally, and can also be found around the monthly food truck rallies. They don’t seem to have an online presence like many of the other trucks do, which means it’s hard to find when and where they’ll be posted up. The truck looks pretty plain, no flashy colors, and no larger-than-life web advertising campaign to draw in interested parties like the other trucks in town. Instead, this one seems to be a part-time operation, only to be found now and then, with a fryer to cook up some comfort food.

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Arcade Seafoods (CLOSED)

While it might be easy to pass by Arcade Seafood without noticing it, the place is actually a longstanding, historic business in the city. Opened in 1944, this seafood shop was established in the once-proud Dayton Arcade downtown. When that spot hit hard times, Arcade Seafood moved from a spot on Ludlow Street to here, a corner on First Street. It’s kind of a neat place in that it’s both a place to buy fresh seafood ingredients, and it’s also a place to go for any number of fried seafood favorites for a dine-in meal.

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Blackbird

The crisp and razor sharp Blackbird is well known as one of Chicago’s top dining spots. Opened in 1997 by a small group of talented and ambitious restaurateurs, this class establishment has since garnered numerous world-renowned awards including the James Beard Award for its sleek minimalist design, as well as the legendary Michelin star. Today, the excellent team, led by executive chef Paul Kahan and mixologist Lynn House are out to bring bold conventions and a redesign of fine cuisine.

I’ve been to hundreds of restaurants. Sometimes you get weary of the same conventions and templates that boggle down local American cuisine. But every now and then, once in a blue moon, you have a meal that is more than a bite to eat. It is, in every sense of the word, an experience. And it belongs in a category all of its own.

For me, Blackbird is an experience.

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The Boardwalk

Situated at the edge of the tiny resort community of Put In Bay on Lake Erie’s South Bass Island, The Boardwalk is one of the prime seafood destinations on the island. Among the primary boat pens and docks of the island, the facility sits on a pier jutting out into the lake, the multi-storied complex sells an array of seafood and souvenirs, as well as taxis to neighboring islands and entertainment. As far as views of beautiful Lake Erie, this pier offers some of the best. I think the same can be said of its menu.

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Bella Luna

Along Cincinnati’s eastern edge, Bella Luna has a surprisingly modest exterior which hides some incredibly tasty Italian food. The humble little place serves up a very modern comfortable atmosphere and a very friendly menu. Some of the tastiest items here have garnered the nice little restaurant a mountain of awards. At the 2011 Taste of Cincinnati food festival, they brought home a trophy that explains it all: “Best Damn Dish.” You will undoubtedly taste some of the best damn food in the city. Far from the prominence of other Cincinnati eateries, this place is a far undervalued jewel in the Queen City’s crown.

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