The Chesapeake Bay takes its name from the Algonquin word Chesepiook, which means "great shellfish bay” - it was named for its ample supply of clams, crabs and oysters. So it makes sense that this area is molded by a long history of boating and fishing and traditional seafood cuisine perfected over hundreds of years. Travelers come to taste some of the world’s freshest fish at local favorites like the Rod 'N' Reel, which specializes in unique dishes like the stuffed rockfish and baked stuffed shrimp. Over at Rock Hall, Waterman’s Crab House serves up some of the nation’s freshest crab. Here, you can crack open your own crab over tables lined with brown paper, or you can order up some award-winning fried or broiled crab cakes for an easier eating experience.
Boston is all about oysters, whether they’re fried up or pureed into a creamy chowder, and Bean Town is home to some of New England’s best oyster and clam shacks. Over at No Name Restaurant, you can dig into the heaping broiled seafood platter, or head to the Barking Crab for a clambake or spicy calamari. B&G Oysters on the city’s South End offers just-shucked oysters, with a raw bar that rotates selections daily. Locals will recommend the signature clam chowder garnished with spicy croutons and bacon lardons.
Maine has a long history with the lobster - these crustaceans so plentiful here that Native Americans once used them for fertilizer, and Colonists considered them "poverty food." The state even lends its name to the Maine Lobster, the world’s heaviest and most massive crustacean. Perched on the state’s coast in Georgetown is the nationally acclaimed Five Islands Lobster Co. This isn’t quite a fine dining experience - there’s no indoor seating and the building is made of clapboard, but it’s the place to go for authentic Maine shrimp, haddock and scallops, not to mention what Downeast Magazine dubbed the “Best Fried Clams in Maine.” Eat your meal on the dock while taking in the stunning view of the shoreline.
You may come to Charleston for the Victorian-style homes and Southern charm, but this East Coast city is also a hotspot for fresh Atlantic shrimp. Located by the Historic Market, Hank’s Seafood Restaurant is the area’s highlight seafood joint and offers a more formal dining experience than the many crab shacks lining the coast. In fact, the Charleston City Paper named Hank’s “Best Seafood Restaurant” 12 years in a row. Try the traditional shrimp and grits, the she-crab soup or the triple-decker seafood tower with mussels, lobster, shrimp and oysters.
Head down to the southern tip of the Eastern Seaboard for some Caribbean cuisine from Kaya Island Eats, Grunts and Hot Tin Roof. If you’re looking for where the natives go, make your way to the Half Shell Raw Bar, which specializes in frittered and ceviche-style conch. While you’re here, hit the Eaton Street Seafood Market, where you can pick up crab cake sandwiches, lobster rolls, fish dip and other regional delights prepared by eateries all across Key West.