By the end of a great day at the beach, you’re apt to feel salty and fried. But there’s no reason the same description always has to apply to your dinner. Along the South’s coastlines, plenty of talented chefs are matching their inland counterparts’ mastery of refined technique and dedication to locally-sourced ingredients. In practice, that means you can cap off a day spent paddleboarding or seashelling with a cup of chilled poblano soup bobbing with Gulf shrimp, or local black sea bass finished with panes of candy-striped beets. Of course, we love a good seafood shack. But should the occasion call for more sophisticated food paired with a spectacular view, consider dropping anchor at one of these Southern waterfront establishments.
The Point Crab House and Grill (700 Mill Creek Rd., Arnold, Maryland) is on land, but just barely: The celebrated restaurant sits on a floating dock, and is surrounded by glass doors that stay open almost all summer long, allowing Chesapeake breezes to waft over plates of grilled local oysters with Smithfield ham and crabs steamed to order.
Coda del Pesce (1130 Ocean Blvd., Isle of Palms, South Carolina) applies Italian notions of ingredient purity and pasta perfection to local marine bounty, often sourced from right outside the dining room’s expansive beach-facing windows. In season, the stone crab ravioli is a can’t-miss dish.
There’s a spa on the property at Aqua (1174 Duck Rd., Duck, North Carolina), but gourmands are likely to find just as much tranquility in the dining room overlooking Currituck Sound. Chef Cory Bryant, an Outer Banks native, has been catching and preparing fish since he was young. Now he’s a professional at the latter, garnishing grouper, for example, with edible flowers and pureed local vegetables.
Acclaimed as Miami’s prettiest new restaurant, Seaspice (422 NW N. River Dr., Miami, Florida) offers both pompano casseroles baked in a 1000-degree oven and a range of delicate crudos. Also along the Miami River, the 51-year-old Garcia’s Seafood Grille & Fish Market (398 NW N. River Dr., Miami, Florida) is an essential stop for grilled cracked conch and the city’s best fish dip.
And if it’s an oyster you’re after, the closeness of the relationship between Fisher’s at Orange Beach Marina (27075 Marina Rd., Orange Beach, Alabama) and nearby Bon Secour Fisheries is apparent from the justly popular Oysters Earle, a fetching plate of roasted oysters served with garlic leek butter, and oysters paired with Wagyu beef, a surf-and-turf as stylish as its surroundings.