Seafood is king during the scorching summer months. When temperatures soar, demand for local fish, shrimp, and crab (whether fried, boiled, or steamed to order) hits its peak. With the nearby Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico offering prime access to their tasty treasures, it’s no wonder our reputation for mouthwatering seafood remains unmatched. From Louisiana to Florida and all the way up to Virginia, we’ve assembled the ultimate lineup of the South’s best seafood spots so you can enjoy.
Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Few dives can claim that their own fishing fleet supplies the top-quality haul for their restaurant each day, but Hudson’s is one of them. There’s no middleman, so there’s never any doubt you’re eating the best the Lowcountry has to offer. We’re partial to the Real Deal BBQ Shrimp and Almond Crusted Grouper, but the menu has something for everyone.
2 THE BACK PORCH
Destin and Panama City Beach, Florida
With the ocean as its backyard and daily deliveries from local markets, you can rest assured that your food is going to be as fresh as possible. The famous chargrilled Amberjack sandwich and Apalachicola oysters are our personal favorites on their menu.
3 DEMPSEY’S SEAFOOD & STEAK
Known for their large menu and even larger portions, you won’t be able to leave without a satisfying dose of Southern comfort. Just remember to ask how much food you’re actually going to get—the Dempsey’s Seafood Platter for Two is generous enough to feed a family of five with enough for a to-go box (or two).
4 SALTBOX SEAFOOD JOINT
Durham, North Carolina
What started as a simple operation based out of a charmingly colorful roadside shack has now evolved into a full-fledged phenomenon with two locations in Durham. By remaining completely reliant on the bounty of local fisherman, Chef Ricky Moore and his team take the phrase “catch of the day” seriously.
5 NORTH BEACH BAR & GRILL
Tybee Island, Georgia
Southern style gets fused with Caribbean flair under the shade of palm trees in this colorful beachside shack. With a local following, they’ve brought their tasty twists to the forefront of the area’s seafood scene. Fish tacos and crab cakes are just some of the fan favorites, but call ahead to check on wait times—peak season means more orders and longer waits.
If you only have one meal to eat when visiting Lake Pontchartrain, be sure it’s at Middendorf’s. Their legendary thin-cut fried catfish and other mouthwatering classic family recipes turn any casual lunch into an unforgettable experience. We’d wager the thousands of visitors who have patronized this South Louisiana joint since the original restaurant opened would agree.
7 CHICK’S OYSTER BAR
Virginia Beach, Virginia
This dockside hot spot is regularly packed, but don’t worry, their ready-and-willing staff are used to handling the crowds. And with local waters providing most of their deliciously prepared catches, you can expect nothing but the best from this little piece of paradise.
While you can’t go wrong with tried-and-true recipes like seafood gumbo, shrimp rémoulade, and fried catfish at this Acadiana staple, the freshly shucked oysters are the real showstoppers (they are the restaurant’s namesake, after all). And with a second location coming to the Lake Charles area later this year, there’s no excuse to not stop in and get your fill.
Orange Beach, Alabama
Whether you’re looking for a comfy, casual place to fill up at after a day on the sand or you want something a little more upscale, Fisher’s has it all. Two distinctly different dining experiences—a laid-back lower level and a more refined option upstairs— add to the restaurant’s charm, but the food is what really turns heads. From po’ boys and shrimp and grits to seared scallops and pan-seared grouper, the menus have every craving covered.
10 HELLO, SAILOR
Cornelius, North Carolina
Nestled on the shores of North Carolina’s largest man-made lake, Lake Norman, this bright and breezy restaurant is a modern take on the classic seafood spots of yesteryear. It doesn’t matter if you arrive by boat or car—just make sure you get here to try their delicious offerings.