Ahhh, Labor Day: it hastens ever closer, bringing with it the cruel reality of summer’s end, reminding us of winter’s inevitable return. But we mustn’t fret. For here, in the best borough of them all, we have ways of making summer last all year long! We’ve got slushy frozen drinks even in sub-zero temperatures (well we did, at least), tiki bars serving island-style cocktails whatever the season…and best of all, we can enjoy some damn fine seafood anytime we want.
As a New England native, I think I can boast a fair bit of a authority on the shellfish and mollusk offerings here in Brooklyn. And there are a lot of ’em to choose from. So, here’s a roundup of the best Brooklyn spots for lobster, clams, crab and oyster—all available well after this delightful August heat and humidity is a thing of the past.
As a born-and-bred New Englander, this writer has an undeniable soft spot for lobster. But there’s no need to suffer through I-95 traffic to get some. There’s plenty of sweet, sweet lobster meat right here in BK! Here’s where to find it.
Red Hook Lobster Pound
284 Van Brunt Street, Red Hook
As anyone who’s ever spent time on the Northeast coast is undoubtedly aware, lobster rolls are New England’s greatest pride and joy. We love them, we fight over them, we’ll tell anyone who will listen that “they’re not the same unless they’re really from Maine.” But you can get a top-notch lobster roll right here in Brooklyn, at the Red Hook Lobster Pound (284 Van Brunt St.). RHLP recently expanded to Manhattan, Montauk, and even D.C., but their original location on Van Brunt still does it better. You can get either a Maine-style roll (with mayo, paprika and scallions) or a Connecticut-style roll (with warm butter and lemon). Both come on super-buttery toasted buns and are awesomely overstuffed. While the rolls aren’t cheap ($21), you and a friend can still do it up brokester-style by splitting one (they’re surprisingly filling, and they come with a side).
11 Water Street, DUMBO
If you’re dying for a lobster roll, but you just paid your rent or your ConEd bill or some other soul-crushing expense, there’s a budget-friendly option at Brooklyn Bridge Park. There, you can find an outpost of Luke’s Lobster, where lobster rolls go for a bargain price of $16. I know, I know. But for lobster? The most luxurious sea treat this side of caviar? Not bad. These are quality Maine-style rolls, too: buttered buns, a bit of mayo, tangy lemon butter and a top-secret spice blend. The Brooklyn Bridge Park location is open seasonally, but they’re not slated to close until the end of November, setting you up for a lobster-ful fall!
The Lobster Joint
1073 Manhattan Avenue, Greenpoint
Lobster is obviously delicious under any circumstances. But when it’s combined with brunch? As Liz Lemon would say, I want to go to there. Your lobster-brunch needs will be well-served at The Lobster Joint (1073 Manhattan Ave) in northern Greenpoint. The star of the show here is the prix-fixe brunch deal: $21 gets you get a coffee, a mimosa or a lobster-claw (!!) Bloody Mary, and a choice of entree, with options like a fried oyster scramble, lobster rancheros or lobster Benedict. If you’re a member of the anti-brunch brigade, there are other cheap ways to enjoy The Lobster Joint. They’ve got $4 lobster sliders during happy hour, which pair beautifully with $16 draft beer pitchers!
Our New England neighbors to the north(east) know what they’re doing when it comes to clams. But you’re New Yorkers. Are you gonna admit defeat to a bunch of Sox fans? Fuhgeddaboudit. Here’s where to score great deals on quality clams in Brooklyn.
Randazzo’s Clam Bar
2017 Emmons Avenue, Sheepshead Bay
For great clams with an Italian flair, head down to Sheepshead Bay and grab at table at Randazzo’s Clam Bar (2017 Emmons Ave). This is a real local joint, filled with families and groups of friends who’ve been in the neighborhood for generations. Skip the red-sauce Italian food (it’s overpriced) and go straight for the Blue Point clam action. They do a solid New England clam chowder (the only acceptable kind- Manhattan clam chowder can GTFO) for $6 per bowl (cups are $5), but you can’t leave Randazzo’s without trying one of the clam platters. The briny half-shell Little Neck clams go for $15/dozen, and if you prefer, you can get them breaded and baked ($13 for 10) or steamed ($17/dozen). The prices are super-reasonable for the quality, and you’re also paying for something that’s increasingly rare in Brooklyn: a community-oriented spot with no hipster pretense or yuppie nonsense. In this writer’s humble opinion, that’s worth more than a few clamshells.
288 Third Avenue, Gowanus
Before Gowanus was home to Ample Hills, Whole Foods, and Ilana from “Broad City,” it was well-known in foodie circles as the location of Littleneck, one of the best seafood spots in the whole damn borough. The clams here are super fresh and super cheap: $1.50 each, or a dozen for $12! They also do a fabulous New England clam chowder. At $8 a bowl, it’s creamy and substantial enough to be a full meal. Wash it all down with a can of Narragansett: they’re only $3!
Bad news first: as far as places that specialize in crab are concerned, Brooklyn doesn’t have a ton. But the good news is that the spots we do have are well worth the trip. Here they are.
Clemente’s Maryland Crabhouse
3939 Emmons Avenue, Sheepshead Bay
Another great seafood place in Sheepshead Bay? Absolutely! It is a waterfront community, after all- they take their shellfish seriously. Clemente’s Maryland Crabhouse, as the name suggests, takes culinary inspiration from the Old Line State. They serve their boiled clams in a traditional Old Bay preparation.They also have an Italian-inspired version with garlic, lemon and oregano. A dozen crabs, easily enough food for a couple of people, will run you $32.95. Or, if you’re feeling ambitious, they do an all-you-can-eat special on Mondays and Tuesdays for $34.95 per person. It’s a no-frills kind of place, with delicious food and gorgeous views of the water and the Manhattan skyline.
(613 Franklin Avenue)
A new-ish addition to the Crown Heights food scene, the Crabby Shack is a petite, cheerful spot with a menu almost entirely focused on crab. They’ve got crab legs and crabcakes and crab BLTs and crab tacos, but their crab roll ($13) might be their crowning glory. With its toasty bun and hot butter dressing, it’s got a lot in common with a Connecticut lobster roll, and the savory crabmeat makes for an unexpected (and really yummy) twist!
These days, NYC oyster fans are a remarkably privileged bunch; there’s no shortage of restaurants and bars serving up briny bivalves, and with the popularity of oyster happy hours, you can often get them cheap. Brooklyn’s got some buzzy oyster joints, but if the crowds at Maison Premiere are a bit much, here are some slightly lower-key but really delicious alternatives.
302 Metropolitan Avenue, Williamsburg
Sitting pretty between the Bedford and Lorimer stops, Extra Fancy calls itself an “upscale clam shack.” But they’re actually a great blend of highbrow and lowbrow: their drink menu features both $13 cocktails and $3 canned beers. Raw bar selections are simple, fresh and classic, with oysters sourced solely from the East Coast going for $3.50 each. That can add up fast, but if you go during happy hour (Mon-Fri from 6-7pm), you can get your oysters half-price!
305 Smith Street, Gowanus
For a spot serving New England food with a New England vibe, look no further than this nautical-themed Gowanus restaurant. Kittery runs the gamut of East Coast seafood specialties, with everything from chowders to rolls to raw bar selections. But among the most destination-worthy menu items are the aptly-named “crispy oysters.” For $9, you get a decent-sized plate of fried oysters with a crunchy, cayenne-spiked breading. They’re low on grease, and the oyster meat at the center is tender and mild. Don’t forget to pair it with Kittery’s crazy-addictive chili tartar sauce!
The Bearded Lady
686 Washington Avenue, Prospect Heights
Bias alert: The Bearded Lady is among this writer’s favorite bars in the whole borough. They’ve got amazing cocktails (for a few bucks cheaper than in Manhattan), cool retro decor, lovely bartenders, and a great late-night oyster happy hour! On Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays after midnight, you can get oysters for $1 each. All of their seafood is sourced from New York State, so you can do a bit of comparison tasting and decide which region reigns supreme.