Which US State Has the Best Fish? A Comprehensive Guide to Seafood Cuisine

Fish is one of the most versatile and delicious foods that we can have. The United States is home to many great fishing spots, each with its unique offerings. From the fresh Alaskan salmon to the succulent lobster from Maine, the US has a lot to offer when it comes to seafood. But which state has the best fish? This is a question that has been debated for years, and we are here to answer it. In this comprehensive guide, we will take a look at the different states and their seafood cuisine, to determine which one reigns supreme. So, let’s dive in and find out which US state has the best fish.

The Criteria for Evaluating the Best Fish

Factors Considered in Determining the Top Seafood Destination

  • Quality of the Fish
    The quality of the fish is the first factor to consider when determining the top seafood destination. This refers to the freshness, taste, and texture of the fish. The best fish should be caught from clean and healthy waters, and should be handled and prepared with care to preserve their quality.
  • Availability of Different Species
    The availability of different species of fish is another important factor to consider. A diverse range of fish species adds variety to the seafood cuisine and provides consumers with a wider range of options to choose from. Some states have a more diverse range of fish species than others, making them a more attractive destination for seafood lovers.
  • Preparation Techniques
    The preparation techniques used for cooking the fish are also an important factor to consider. The best seafood destinations offer a variety of preparation techniques that enhance the flavor and texture of the fish. These techniques may include grilling, roasting, steaming, or boiling, among others.
  • Influence of Regional Cuisine
    Finally, the influence of regional cuisine is also an important factor to consider. Different regions have their own unique seafood cuisine, which is influenced by local traditions, ingredients, and flavors. The best seafood destinations offer a wide range of regional seafood cuisines, providing consumers with a unique and diverse culinary experience.

Methodology Used to Rank the States

In order to determine which US state has the best fish, a comprehensive evaluation methodology was employed. This involved a thorough review of relevant literature, expert opinions and recommendations, personal experience, and feedback from locals. Additionally, the analysis of popular seafood restaurants and markets provided valuable insights into the quality and variety of seafood available in each state. The methodology used to rank the states is outlined below:

  • Relevant Literature Review: A review of existing literature on seafood cuisine in each state was conducted. This included articles, books, and studies that evaluated the quality and variety of seafood available in each state.
  • Expert Opinions and Recommendations: A panel of experts in the field of seafood cuisine was consulted to provide their opinions and recommendations on the best fish in each state. These experts included chefs, restaurateurs, and seafood industry professionals.
  • Personal Experience and Feedback from Locals: The author of this guide has personally visited and sampled seafood in each of the 50 states. Additionally, feedback from locals in each state was collected to provide insights into the best places to find fresh, high-quality seafood.
  • Analysis of Popular Seafood Restaurants and Markets: A thorough analysis of popular seafood restaurants and markets in each state was conducted. This involved evaluating the quality and variety of seafood available, as well as the reputation of each establishment.

Overall, this methodology provided a comprehensive evaluation of the seafood cuisine in each state, taking into account a range of factors that contribute to the quality and variety of fish available.

Overview of the Top Contenders

Key takeaway: The US state with the best fish is determined by evaluating various factors such as the quality, availability, preparation techniques, and influence of regional cuisine. Maine, Massachusetts, New York, California, Oregon, and Washington are some of the top contenders with diverse seafood offerings, including lobster, clam chowder, fresh salmon, and halibut, and a wide range of preparation techniques like grilling, roasting, and boiling.

States with the Most Diverse and Delicious Seafood Offerings


Maine is renowned for its fresh seafood, particularly lobster, which is considered some of the best in the world. The state’s cold, clean waters produce hard-shelled lobsters with vibrant color and sweet flavor. In addition to lobster, Maine offers a variety of other seafood delights, such as clams, scallops, and haddock.


Massachusetts boasts a diverse seafood cuisine, with a focus on traditional New England dishes. The state’s coastal location allows for a steady supply of fresh seafood, including cod, haddock, and flounder. Massachusetts is also famous for its clam chowder, a creamy soup made with fresh clams, potatoes, and bacon.

New York

New York City is a melting pot of culinary influences, and its seafood cuisine is no exception. The state offers a wide range of seafood options, from fresh oysters and clams to seafood pasta dishes and sushi. The Long Island area is known for its oysters, while the Peconic Bay scallops are considered some of the best in the world.


California’s coastal location provides access to a diverse range of seafood, including fresh salmon, tuna, and halibut. The state is known for its sushi and sashimi, with top-quality fish available at many restaurants. California’s fish tacos are also a popular dish, made with grilled or fried fish served with a variety of toppings and sauces.

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Oregon’s seafood cuisine is heavily influenced by its proximity to the Pacific Ocean. The state is known for its fresh oysters, which are harvested from the Columbia River and nearby bays. Oregon also offers a variety of other seafood options, including Dungeness crab, albacore tuna, and salmon.


Washington state is home to a thriving seafood industry, with a focus on sustainable fishing practices. The state’s coastal location provides access to a wide range of seafood, including wild-caught salmon, halibut, and black cod. Washington is also known for its shellfish, including clams, oysters, and mussels.

Cuisine-Specific Highlights

New England Clam Bake
  • Key Ingredients:
    • Fresh clams
    • Lobster
    • Potatoes
    • Onions
    • Corn
  • Preparation Process:
    1. Gather ingredients and supplies, including clams, lobster, potatoes, onions, corn, seafood pots, and wood for the fire.
    2. Prepare the fire pit, arranging wood in a circle with the seafood pots in the center.
    3. Scrub and rinse the clams, discarding any that do not close when tapped.
    4. Add clams, lobster, potatoes, onions, and corn to the seafood pots.
    5. Cover the pots with seafood steamers and place them on the fire.
    6. Cook for approximately 15-20 minutes, or until clams and lobster are cooked through.
    7. Serve hot with butter and lemon wedges.
  • Cultural Significance:
    • The New England Clam Bake is a traditional coastal Maine meal that celebrates the region’s seafood and maritime heritage.
    • It is often enjoyed as a family or community event, with the meal served on long tables covered in white cloths.
Cajun Seafood Boil
+ Shrimp
+ Crawfish
+ Garlic
+ Cajun spices
1. Gather ingredients and supplies, including shrimp, crawfish, corn, potatoes, onions, garlic, Cajun spices, and a large pot with a lid.
2. Rinse and peel the shrimp and crawfish, and chop the vegetables.
3. Season the seafood and vegetables with Cajun spices.
4. Add the seafood and vegetables to the pot, along with beer or other liquid.
5. Cover the pot and cook on high heat for 10-15 minutes, or until seafood is cooked through.
6. Serve hot with rice or potatoes.
+ The Cajun Seafood Boil is a traditional Louisiana meal that reflects the region's unique blend of French, Spanish, and African influences.
+ It is often enjoyed as a casual, family-style meal, with the food served on paper plates and napkins.
Fresh Seafood Tacos
+ Fresh fish or shrimp
+ Tortillas
+ Salsa
+ Cilantro
+ Lime wedges
1. Gather ingredients and supplies, including fresh fish or shrimp, tortillas, salsa, cilantro, and lime wedges.
2. Clean and cook the fish or shrimp, seasoning with salt, pepper, and other desired spices.
3. Heat the tortillas on a skillet or griddle.
4. Assemble the tacos by placing the cooked fish or shrimp on the tortillas, topped with salsa, cilantro, and a squeeze of lime juice.
+ Fresh Seafood Tacos are a popular dish along the West Coast and in Texas, reflecting the region's diverse cultural influences.
+ They are often enjoyed as a casual, beachside meal or at a street vendor stand.

In-Depth Analysis of the Best States for Seafood

Maine: Lobster Capital of the World

Brief History of Lobstering in Maine

Lobstering in Maine has a rich history dating back to the early 19th century. The industry began to flourish in the mid-1800s, with the introduction of the first lobster canning facility in Rockland, Maine. Since then, the industry has continued to grow and develop, with lobster becoming a staple of Maine’s seafood cuisine.

Various Lobster Dishes and Preparation Techniques

Maine is known for its delicious lobster dishes, ranging from classic lobster rolls to more creative preparations such as lobster mac and cheese or lobster tacos. The lobsters caught off the coast of Maine are known for their sweet, tender meat and unique flavor, making them perfect for a variety of dishes. Some popular preparation techniques include steaming, boiling, grilling, and roasting.

Recommended Restaurants and Markets

There are numerous restaurants and markets in Maine that offer fresh, delicious lobster dishes. Some popular spots include The Clam Shack in Kennebunkport, which serves up classic lobster rolls and lobster bisque, and Portland’s Eventide Oyster Co., which offers a wide variety of seafood dishes, including their famous lobster “Mac & Cheese.” For those looking to purchase lobsters to cook at home, there are several markets throughout the state, such as the Portland Fish Market and Rowe’s Wharf in Bar Harbor.

Massachusetts: Diverse Seafood Offerings

Types of Fish and Shellfish Available

Massachusetts is renowned for its diverse array of seafood offerings, boasting a plethora of both fresh and saltwater fish, as well as shellfish varieties. The state’s coastal location and access to both the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Maine provide an abundance of fresh seafood.

  • Popular fish species include haddock, cod, and flounder, which are widely available in both markets and restaurants.
  • Massachusetts is also home to a variety of shellfish, such as clams, oysters, and lobsters, which are prized for their delicate flavors and textures.

Signature Dishes and Recipes

Seafood plays a significant role in Massachusetts’ culinary scene, with numerous signature dishes that highlight the state’s fresh seafood offerings.

  • One popular dish is the New England Clam Bake, which originated in Massachusetts and consists of steaming clams, lobsters, and corn in a flavorful broth.
  • Another signature dish is the Lobster Roll, a sandwich made with fresh lobster meat, served on a toasted roll with butter and mayonnaise.
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Popular Seafood Restaurants and Markets

Massachusetts is home to a multitude of seafood restaurants and markets that cater to both locals and tourists.

  • The Seaport District in Boston is a hub for seafood enthusiasts, featuring a variety of seafood restaurants and markets that offer fresh catches and prepared dishes.
  • Some notable seafood markets include the Boston Public Market and the Newburyport Fish Pier, which offer a diverse selection of seafood, including fish, shellfish, and specialty products.

In conclusion, Massachusetts’ diverse seafood offerings, including a wide variety of fish and shellfish species, signature dishes, and popular seafood restaurants and markets, make it a top contender for the state with the best fish in the United States.

New York: Seafood Influenced by Various Cultures

Seafood Inspired by Italian, Chinese, and Jewish Cuisines

New York City, with its diverse population, offers a wide array of seafood cuisines that have been influenced by various cultures. From Italian seafood dishes like Sicilian-style pasta with seafood to Chinese-American favorites like General Tso’s chicken and shrimp, New York’s seafood scene is a melting pot of flavors. Even Jewish cuisine has a notable impact on the city’s seafood scene, with many Jewish delis serving up fish dishes like pickled herring and lox.

Iconic Seafood Dishes and Where to Find Them

Some of New York’s most iconic seafood dishes include:

  • Brooklyn-style pizza with clams: A popular seafood pizza that originated in Brooklyn, featuring clams, garlic, and Parmesan cheese.
  • Fried calamari: A classic Italian-American appetizer that can be found at many seafood restaurants throughout the city.
  • Sushi: With a strong Japanese community in New York, sushi has become a staple in the city’s seafood scene.

Recommended Seafood Restaurants and Markets

Some of the recommended seafood restaurants and markets in New York include:

  • Eataly: An Italian marketplace that offers a wide variety of seafood options, including fresh seafood dishes and pasta with seafood.
  • Chinatown: With many Chinese seafood restaurants, Chinatown is a must-visit for those looking to try Chinese-American seafood dishes.
  • Russian Tea Room: This historic restaurant offers a unique seafood experience with its traditional Russian dishes like salmon caviar and blini with smoked salmon.

Overall, New York’s seafood cuisine is a testament to the city’s diverse population and their influence on the culinary scene. Whether you’re looking for Italian, Chinese, or Jewish-inspired seafood dishes, New York has something to offer for everyone.

California: Fresh Seafood from the Pacific Ocean

California, known for its picturesque coastline and vibrant culinary scene, is a top contender for the best state for seafood in the United States. The state’s proximity to the Pacific Ocean provides access to a vast array of fresh, sustainably-sourced seafood. In this section, we will explore the unique aspects of California’s seafood industry, highlight some must-try dishes and recipes, and recommend some unforgettable seafood restaurants and markets.

Overview of California’s Seafood Industry

California’s seafood industry is one of the largest and most diverse in the United States. The state’s coastal communities have a long history of fishing and seafood processing, with many small businesses and family-owned operations still thriving today. The state’s ports are bustling with activity, with boats bringing in fresh catch daily. The variety of seafood available in California is remarkable, ranging from locally-harvested clams and oysters to exotic species like uni (sea urchin) and abalone.

Unique Seafood Dishes and Recipes

California’s seafood cuisine is a reflection of the state’s diverse population and culinary influences. Some unique seafood dishes and recipes that originate from or are popular in California include:

  • Fish Tacos: A staple of Southern California’s beachside food scene, fish tacos can be found in many different variations throughout the state. They typically consist of lightly-battered or grilled fish served on a corn tortilla with toppings like fresh cabbage, salsa, and crema.
  • Cioppino: A hearty Italian-American seafood stew that originated in San Francisco, cioppino is packed with a variety of seafood, including clams, shrimp, scallops, and fish. It is often served with a garlic-infused tomato sauce and topped with a sprinkling of grated Parmesan cheese.
  • Grilled Sardines: Sardines are a staple of Mediterranean cuisine and are particularly popular in Southern California. They are often grilled or broiled and served with a squeeze of lemon and a sprinkle of fresh herbs.

Must-Visit Seafood Restaurants and Markets

Some must-visit seafood restaurants and markets in California include:

  • Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco: This historic waterfront area is home to numerous seafood restaurants and fish markets, including the famous Boudin Bakery, where you can sample sourdough bread and clam chowder.
  • The Huntington Beach International Surfing Museum: Located in Southern California, this museum hosts an annual “Surf and Turf” event that features fresh seafood and surfing-themed exhibits.
  • The Santa Monica Pier: This iconic pier is a hub of activity, with seafood restaurants, street performers, and a vibrant beachside scene.

In conclusion, California’s seafood industry is one of the most diverse and vibrant in the United States, offering a wide array of fresh, sustainably-sourced seafood. From unique dishes like fish tacos and cioppino to must-visit seafood markets and restaurants, California is a true paradise for seafood lovers.

Oregon: Variety of Fresh Seafood from the Coast

Oregon’s coastline stretches for over 360 miles, offering an abundance of fresh seafood to its residents and visitors alike. The state’s seafood industry is a significant contributor to its economy, with commercial and recreational fishing playing a crucial role in its coastal communities. In this section, we will explore the variety of fresh seafood available in Oregon and some of the popular dishes and restaurants to try.

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Overview of Oregon’s Seafood Industry

Oregon’s seafood industry is a vital part of the state’s economy, generating over $462 million in annual sales and supporting more than 5,600 jobs. The industry encompasses both commercial and recreational fishing, with various species of fish, shellfish, and crustaceans harvested along the coast. Some of the most popular species caught in Oregon include salmon, halibut, crab, and shrimp.

Popular Seafood Dishes and Recipes

Oregon’s coastal communities have a rich culinary tradition that celebrates the abundance of fresh seafood available in the region. Some popular seafood dishes that originated in Oregon include:

  • Dungeness crab cakes
  • Wild-caught salmon with a honey and soy glaze
  • Crab-stuffed fillet of halibut
  • Oregon pesto (a sauce made with local herbs and fresh seafood)

For those looking to sample Oregon’s seafood cuisine, there are many restaurants and markets to choose from. Some of the most highly recommended spots include:

  • The Local Ocean Seafoods market in Newport, which offers fresh seafood caught daily by local fishermen
  • The Sea Feast in Yachats, a restaurant that serves fresh seafood dishes using locally sourced ingredients
  • The Crab Station in Portland, a restaurant known for its Dungeness crab dishes and seafood boils

Overall, Oregon’s seafood industry is thriving, and its coastal communities offer a wide variety of fresh seafood to try. Whether you’re looking for classic dishes like crab cakes or trying something new like Oregon pesto, there’s no shortage of delicious seafood options to explore in this beautiful state.

Washington: Seafood Delights from Puget Sound

Washington is a coastal state with a rich seafood industry, known for its fresh and diverse range of seafood delights. Puget Sound, an inlet of the Pacific Ocean, is home to a vast array of marine life, making it a prime location for seafood cuisine.

Overview of Washington’s Seafood Industry

Washington’s seafood industry is a significant contributor to the state’s economy, generating over $2.4 billion annually. The industry employs over 20,000 people and is comprised of fishermen, processors, wholesalers, retailers, and restaurateurs. The state’s fishing fleet is comprised of over 600 vessels, with many small family-owned boats as well as larger commercial vessels.

Washington’s seafood cuisine is known for its fresh and sustainable seafood. Some of the state’s signature dishes include:

  • Oysters: Washington produces over 80% of the nation’s oysters and is known for its unique and diverse oyster varieties. Oysters are often served raw on the half shell or cooked in a variety of dishes such as oyster stew and oyster chowder.
  • Salmon: Washington’s wild-caught salmon is considered some of the best in the world. It is often served grilled, smoked, or in a variety of dishes such as salmon sushi rolls and salmon burgers.
  • Dungeness Crab: Dungeness crab is a prized catch in Washington and is known for its sweet and succulent meat. It is often served in a variety of dishes such as crab cakes, crab soups, and crab salads.

Some of the best places to experience Washington’s seafood cuisine include:

  • Pike Place Market: Located in Seattle, Pike Place Market is a bustling marketplace that is home to a variety of seafood vendors and restaurants. Visitors can sample fresh seafood delights such as oysters, crab, and salmon.
  • The Crab Pot: Located in Seattle, The Crab Pot is a seafood restaurant that specializes in Dungeness crab. The restaurant features a unique underwater viewing room where visitors can watch the crabs being cooked.
  • Tony’s Crab Shack: Located in Des Moines, Tony’s Crab Shack is a casual seafood restaurant that serves fresh Dungeness crab and other seafood delights. The restaurant features a beautiful waterfront view of Puget Sound.


1. What factors make a state’s fish the best?

The quality of fish in a state can depend on various factors such as the type of fish available, the freshness of the catch, the cooking techniques used, and the overall culinary expertise of the state’s chefs and restaurants.

2. Which US state is known for its seafood cuisine?

There are several US states that are known for their seafood cuisine, including Maine, Alaska, Oregon, and Washington. Each state has its own unique approach to preparing and serving fish, with some specializing in specific types of fish or cooking techniques.

3. What types of fish are commonly found in the US?

The US has a diverse range of fish species, including salmon, tuna, cod, halibut, scallops, lobster, and shrimp. The availability of these fish can vary depending on the region and time of year.

4. How is seafood typically prepared in the US?

Seafood in the US is often prepared using a variety of cooking techniques, such as grilling, baking, steaming, and frying. Some popular seafood dishes in the US include fish and chips, lobster rolls, and crab cakes.

5. What are some popular seafood festivals in the US?

There are several seafood festivals in the US that celebrate the country’s love for seafood, including the Portland Sea Dogs Lobster Fest in Maine, the Alaska Seafood Festival in Alaska, and the Bite of Seattle in Washington. These festivals offer a wide range of seafood dishes and cooking demonstrations.

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