Editors’ Choice (TIE)
Sea Level Oyster Bar
As she proved on “Chopped: Martha Rules” this summer, executive chef Jenn Normant knows her way around seafood, so the raw bar offerings are exceptional, and exceptionally fresh. We love the front and back patios, allowing diners to choose between vibrant people watching on Market Square out front and serene views of the Merrimack in the back, as well as the selection of oysters, beer-steamed shrimp, and the chef’s whim fish dip, which changes daily.
1 Market Square, Newburyport, 978-462-8862, sealevelnewburyport.com
The Power Tower, stacked with a rotating selection of oysters, shrimp, and the restaurant’s delectable crudo, is the perfect accompaniment to wine from its curated list. Add a dollop of caviar if you’re feeling fancy. The new space, right next door to the old one, offers up a sleek, comfortable vibe in subtle shades of gray, blue, and white, with a mix of high tops and stylish rattan seating, evoking the ocean without being kitschy. The focal point is a long bar, done in Carrera marble, putting oyster shucking and mingling front-and-center. Keep your eye out for the Thursday dollar oyster special—it’s the best deal around for high-quality shellfish.
17 State St., Newburyport, 978-358-8479, brineoyster.com
Turner’s Seafood at Lyceum Hall
Ask for a seat at the curved raw bar in the busy dining room to watch the fresh oysters shucked before your eyes in this historic spot, run by the fourth-generation shellfish expert Turner family. Jumbo shrimp cocktail is a favorite, with the sauce made in-house from their special recipe.
43 Church St., Salem, 978-745-7665, turners-seafood.com