For those not living in Atlantic City, the first thing that comes to mind when one hears those words isn’t necessarily the ocean. Sure, the world “Atlantic” is right there in the name, and most people know that Atlantic City has its boardwalk, but it’s not the first thing for which AC is known.
However, once you travel to Atlantic City, you only need to raise your head a few inches up from the boardwalk and away from the casinos to see a glorious, blue ocean, amazing seaside sunsets, and some very nice oceanside real estate.
All of which means one thing—seafood restaurants. One cannot be that close to the ocean, smell the salty air, and not think about all of the delicacies found in the seawater.
Fortunately, Atlantic City provides. There are a lot of places that offer seafood in one variety or another that one can enjoy. There are so many, in fact, that I’ve helped you to narrow them down to just seven for you to try.
Sure, that’s a lot, but if I know anything, it’s that you can never have enough seafood.
7 – Kelsey’s
Technically, Kelsey’s isn’t a seafood restaurant at all. It’s actually a soul food restaurant which doesn’t seem like it should have anything to do with seafood at first glance.
However, Kelsey’s has a fairly eclectic menu and one of the things it does do is serve up soul and Southern versions of a lot of seafood-heavy dishes. For instance, you want a seafood starter? Try their shrimp etouffee!
For your meal, you can try the fish tacos (which were good enough to make my best taco list for Atlantic City) or shrimp and grits, stuffed shrimp, fried fish, grilled salmon, or crab cakes. See, that absolutely makes Kelsey’s a seafood place, right?
Okay, in all seriousness, going to Kelsey’s isn’t quite the same as going to a place like Dock’s or Harry’s, but that’s okay. Kelsey’s has a strong culinary viewpoint and you will enjoy the seafood you get there.
Now, let’s get to some more traditional seafood places.
6 – Phillips Seafood
Located in Playground Pier at Caesars, Phillips Seafood is rated as one of the better restaurants in all of Atlantic City.
With that said, Phillips looks a lot like one would expect of a Atlantic City casino restaurant. The décor is nice and features a few touches of the sea, but it really doesn’t scream seafood joint. What it does scream is “I have a huge wine selection” with a see-through collection of bottles dominating the area right by the kitchen. So, that’s definitely a big win.
Of course, the real gem of a seafood place is its menu, and that’s where Phillips can really shine.
For dessert, the chocolate peanut butter pie is a great choice, but if you like bread pudding, Phillips’ Signature Warm Cinnamon Bread Pudding is, well, their signature. It’s pretty hard to go wrong ordering it.
Whatever you order, you’re going to enjoy it. And Phillips is basically right next to the ocean on Playground Pier. It’s hard to find a better location than that.
5 – Olon
I admit that I tend to have a bit of a weakness for celebrity chef restaurants, especially when those chefs are Iron Chefs. It doesn’t always work out, but when it comes to Chef Jose Garces, I’ve never had a bad meal at any of his restaurants. This includes Olon, which is a Latin-inspired take on fresh seafood.
First, let me say that the food at Olon is gorgeous. It’s cliché to say that we eat with our eyes first, but if you can hold off shoving the food in your face, you will notice that the presentation of food at Olon is second to none on this list.
Even better, you can enjoy Olon in several different ways, depending on what you are looking for and when you go. During the week from 4 PM to 6 PM, for instance, you can go and enjoy a three-course tasting menu featuring items like cheese empanadas, roasted half chicken, shrimp anticuchos, and citrus tarts.
During happy hour (everyday from 4 PM to 7 PM), there are reduced prices on some food items including the buck-a-shuck raw oysters. It’s hard to beat that deal.
There are also the dessert and dinner menus, where the menu really starts to shine. It’s hard to pick just one thing to order, so go with a group and share. But in all seriousness, the guacamole with jumbo lump crab and scallop gratin both jump off the menu.
For the meal, I suggest either one of the ceviches (Mexican, Peruvian, or Veracruz style), the whole branzino or the fried shrimp. Hopefully, you save some room for dessert and check out the dulce de leche sundae or the coconut parfait.
4 – Council Oak Steaks and Seafood
Located in the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Atlantic City, Council Oak is by far one of the fanciest of the seafood places on this list. It’s the type of place where you might want to dress up a little more, but the food is definitely worth it.
Council Oak Fish’s focus is on ocean-to-table dining (their words) and cold seafood selections, several different types of oysters, “for the table” options like crab cakes, clam chowder, wood-fired shrimp, and clams oreganata.
If you like wood-fired selections, you can choose from several types of fish, lobster, chicken, or steaks. Perhaps best of all, though, are the shellfish pots that serve lobster, crab, shrimp, clams, mussels, scallops, and other options in various broths and sauces.
The good news is that even though Council Oak is a little more fancy, the prices are still reasonable and, in general, it’s a solid meal.
3 – Chart House
If you like your seafood overlooking the bar, Chart House is for you. Part of the Golden Nugget, Chart House is fine dining in a place that remains classic to this day.
It’s hard to tell where to start with the menu at Chart House. The wicked tuna and charred octopus are both amazing starters, but it’s hard not to order off the “dock to dine” section of the menu, featuring mahi, swordfish, ahi, and other fish.
There’s also a nice seasonal portion to the menu which you don’t see in all seafood places. All in all, it’s hard not to pick something great at Chart House, especially when you end the night with hot chocolate lava cake.
2 – Dock’s Oyster House
Hands down, Dock’s is one of the best restaurants in all of Atlantic City. There’s something about this restaurant that melds old-school rustic charm with nice new modern renovations, a huge bar, and a fantastic raw bar that says, “You need to come here and eat.”
The steamed clams are a terrific appetizer, and the sea scallops make a satisfying meal (again, if you want to order a meal and not just eat off the raw bar).
Dock’s has been around Atlantic City for over a century. It’s pretty tough to beat this place no matter what you are looking to eat.
1 – Harry’s Oyster Bar and Seafood
It was hard putting Harry’s at number one over Dock’s, but I made the tough decision and I’m sticking to it. Why did I make the decision? Ambiance.
Harry’s Oyster Bar and Seafood is a nice, fun place to hang out, get some oysters and clams, and maybe a one-pound lobster or tuna poke. Then, you can sit, eat, and enjoy the picture of a fish handing you a beer on the menu. It’s just that kind of place, and since there are definitely some more fancy places to get seafood on the list, I wanted to make sure there was a casual place, too.
This is a fun place that serves good food.
In addition to the raw bar, there are sandwiches (hello lobster roll!), entrees like the seafood combo or pasta my way (in this case, with crab in a fra diavolo sauce, thank you very much). There’s also a huge drink and specialty cocktail menu for you to enjoy as you chow down on your fish.
Despite my earlier comments, it’s no surprise that a place on the ocean would have a great selection of restaurants. The seven above are just a few options, but I highly recommend each one. The real key is what type of seafood experience you want.
Luxury? Fun? Comfortable? Soul-food? Atlantic City has a seafood place that will cater to them all.