Massachusetts is famous for its seafood. Boston, in particular, is known for its fishmongers and seafood restaurants, and the best of those deal primarily – or even exclusively – in freshly caught fish. Most owners of such restaurants and shops either go to the docks and pre-dawn wholesale fish markets themselves or have standing orders from middlemen who supply them with the catch of the day. Whether you want fresh fish to cook for yourself, or are in search of a restaurant that prizes fresh over frozen, here are just some of the best places to find fresh fish in Boston.
New Deal Fish Market
622 Cambridge St.
Cambridge, MA 02141
For 90 years this family-owned fish market in Cambridge has been where Harvard professors (or their cooks), local restaurant chefs and people in the neighborhood go to get “a nice piece of fish.” They not only sell locally caught and other fresh seafood, but also will prepare it to order. For three generations they have been butterflying branzino, filleting salmon and making steaks from the whole tuna. They will even cut fish into the proper portions requested for a dinner party. With three generations of family experience under their belt, these Italian-American fishmongers know how to pick a fish. The also sell all of the ingredients a cook could want to marinate or otherwise prepare a fish dinner – or a tray of sushi.
37 Fish Pier St.
Boston, MA 02210
Other than catching it yourself, there is quite literally only one other way to get fish fresher than going to Red’s Best – that is to go down to the docks yourself before the sun rises. Fortunately, Red’s people do just that – and it is a very short walk, as the shop is located on Fish Pier Street which is where the fishermen of old used to display their catch. A seafood wholesaler who works with more than 1,000 local fishermen, Red’s daily offers whatever fish or other seafood is in season, from butterfish to squid. Primarily a wholesaler, they also have a brick and mortar store and restaurant in the Boston Public Market on Hanover Street, where you can buy fresh fish to go or sit down and enjoy whatever is on the menu for the day. They also will ship right to your door. Head to Red’s website to find what is fresh and in stock each day.
2 Fish Pier St.
Boston, MA 02210
Another of the iconic fishmongers on Fish Pier Street, Wulf’s has long been the place to go in the city for the catch of the day. They do close early (4:30 p.m.), but that is because they are so popular and have such a good reputation that they are usually out of fresh fish long before the sun goes down. Their motto is “New Fish. Old School.” The “old school” relates to their long tradition, which goes back to 1926, and how they still work with local fishermen. The “new fish” refers to their commitment to finding new ways to serve seafood – and to help their customers find and prepare the right fish the right way. “Humanely sourced” and “sustainable” are their bywords, and that is the way some of the city’s top Michelin-starred chefs come to Wulf’s for their fish of the day. Although it has made its reputation as a wholesaler and a supplier to local and regional restaurants, Wulf’s is about to relaunch a retail store for the public – although anyone who wants more than just enough fish for the family dinner can contact them.
61 Billings Road
North Quincy, MA 02171
Located just outside of Boston proper up in North Quincy, Burke’s Seafood has built a reputation over the last 30 years as a friendly and reliable place to not only buy fresh seafood, but also to pick it up, already cooked, to take home to enjoy. They also have a dining room for those who can’t wait, and while their fare is prepared simply, it is done so to perfection – and at a far more affordable price than one of those posh downtown restaurants. They only sell what is freshly caught, so the choices can vary daily. Burke’s only sells what local fishermen or local fish farmers offer, and then only from those who are proven to be “socially responsible” and follow a sustainable path, as their website notes.
North End Fish Market
99 Salem St.
Boston, MA 02113
“We’ve got fish!” is the motto for the North End Fish Market on Salem Street. They offer a wide variety of fish in season and also sell prepared seafood meals to take home (those jalapeno crab bites and their shrimp arancini are every bit as good as their chowder and lobster mac & cheese). Their “heat and eat” selection as they call it changes daily, and they will fillet, portion out or otherwise prepare fresh fish to order, given 24 hours notice. They are one of the few places that offer line-caught tuna and are well-known for both their sushi and their lobster rolls – which is no small accomplishment in a town where every fishmonger and restaurant worthy of the name has its own recipe.
Related: Best Fish Sandwiches In Boston
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