Seafood Chains That Are Taking Over America

If you're a seafood fan but the restaurant options in your area fail to rise to the occasion no need to be crabby. There are a number of chains shucking and cooking under-the-sea eats that are casting a wider net across the United States. And the good news is they offer something for every aquatic taste.

For the trendy types, you can look forward to spicy meal-in-a-bag seafood boil and build-your-own bowl poke concepts. There are fast food spots dish out everything from fish and chips to lobster rolls. If you prefer a sit-down experience there are casual options like a crab shack and laidback East Coast oyster bar, plus more formal dining experiences where you can splurge on champagne and caviar.

And for the eco-conscious, you can look forward to restaurants serving sustainable fish while also going easy on the plastics. Below we've charted a course highlighting when and where to find the latest franchise of popular seafood chains.

Shuckin' Shack Oyster Bar

It's all about the shellfish at this casual East Coast-style oyster bar. The signature bivalve deserves your attention and it's available three ways: raw on the half shell, steamed, or chargrilled and topped with bacon plus your choice of jalapeno cheddar or parmesan garlic. Clams, mussels, lobster, and crab fans have plenty of options to choose from, but it's the shrimp, which is exclusively wild-caught from domestic waters, that should definitely be on your sonar. One of the more inventive items on the menu is a twist on shrimp-n-grits, which showcases grilled shrimp served atop grit cakes and topped with chorizo and smoked sausage gravy. Another outside-the-box shrimp dish recently became a viral sensation when Shuckin' Shack decided to fry them up in a batter prepared with Cinnamon Toast Crunch, a cheeky nod to the infamous shrimp tails in the cereal box brouhaha.

One more reason to dine here is the chain's focus on the environment from partnerships with sustainable fisheries (including using farmed aquaculture oysters) to the eschewing of Styrofoam and plastic straws, bags, and bottles. In fact, 10 Shuckin' Shack locations have been certified Ocean Friendly Establishments. 

You can currently find Shuckin' Shacks scattered throughout the Eastern Seaboard between Maryland and Florida but there are plans to start moving west. A location in Geneva, Illinois. is on deck and according to Restaurant Hospitality, expansion into Tennessee and Kentucky is also being considered.

Arthur Treacher's

Arthur Treacher's is without a doubt a fast food legend, frying up fish & chips with hush puppies and tartar sauce since 1969 (the recipe dates back to a full century before that). At its peak, there were more than 800 locations across the U.S. of A but with an increase in the price of cod and decrease in demand for England's most notable food export, times have been tough. In fact, the chain has dwindled down to one single link with just a single remaining standalone restaurant, which is located in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio.

Fortunes, however, may begin to shift upstream again. According to QSR, hot dog king Nathan's Famous which operates the franchise is "ready to relaunch Arthur Treacher's as a ghost kitchen concept, with plans, ultimately, to open brick-and-mortar stores."

While in the past, we've been disappointed with the inferior fish being served at Arthur Treacher's, plans are to upgrade the menu with the revamp with proposed items like shrimp and bacon cheese fries. Certain markets can also expect a return to using quality cod, which is set to appear in a 4-ounce fried fish sandwich that has the potential to be a standout in a crowded field. Here's to hoping this comeback is more Julius Randle than Greg Oden.


If you are willing to shell out a few extra clams for a special occasion meal, head to Truluck's where pristine seafood is served in fancy digs which Fodors likens to a "businessman's yacht club."

The specialty of the house is crab, particularly of the stone variety (if you're a fan of Joe's Crab Shack you know what to expect). That's not surprising since Truluck's employs its very own fleet of boats in Florida that haul in the giant-clawed crustaceans. But if you want a taste of that sweet meat, be sure to make a reservation during stone crab season, between October 1 and May 15, because you won't find any frozen claws here. Year-round, you can get your non-stone crab fix with a cool Crab Louie and meaty crab cake for appetizers, then go big with a prime king crab leg.

And if someone in your party isn't in a seafood mood, not to worry. Prime steaks and even a couple of plant-based mains are also on the menu. Truluck's currently operates a dozen restaurants in four states (Texas, Florida, Illinois, and California) and Washington D.C., the chain's most recent location.

Crab Du Jour

America's recent obsession with seafood boils just won't quit and recent addition Crab Du Jour is doing its part to keep the trend bubbling. The main event here starts with choosing your favorite crustacean, available by the half pound. Next, select your sauce: original Cajun, lemon pepper, garlic butter or dry (Old Bay) if you want to keep things simple. But Philly Grub recommends going with the "insanely delicious" Du Jour Special which brings together all four options to create liquid gold. Finally, choose your spice level, then await the arrival of your extremely messy, finger-licking package of seafood. (Potatoes and corn are also included with the meal.)

And if seafood boils simply aren't your bag, not to worry. There are plenty of sandwich options and baskets of fried seafood. Just be sure to go Cajun for your side of fries. Wash it all down with a frosty beer or a hand-crafted cocktail, particularly one of the signature martinis.

In an interview with the Detroit Metro Times, Crab Du Jour Regional General Manager Jeff Schroth revealed that the chain, which has already opened over 100 outposts since launching in 2019 in Raleigh, North Carolina, is aiming for 200 locations by 2022 with 500 more to come by 2025.

Captain D's

We rank Captain D's among our favorite seafood chains and with over 50 years in the biz that's to be expected. The menu at this Southern-tinged fast food old-timer is expansive and even features lobster and crab, though this probably isn't the best spot to indulge in those costly crustaceans. While there are multiple grilled options on the menu including blackened tilapia and shrimp skewers, fried (be it batter-dipped, cornmeal-crusted, or hand-breaded in Captain D's "signature Southern-style breading") is the favored preparation here. We're particularly big fans of the Giant Fish Sandwich which, as advertised, contains a double dose of batter-dipped filets and tartar sauce — not to mention a whole lot of sodium (nearly 2000 mg per serving to be exact).

While plenty of folks across the country are well-acquainted with this seafood stalwart, it is currently open in only 23 states but that's about to change. Seafood Source reports the first Captain D's will be introduced to Utah this year and with continued expansion perhaps it will voyage to the Northeast and West Coast in the near future.

Island Fin Poke

It seems we haven't quite reached peak poke, and this five-year-old up-and-comer continues to ride that wave of popularity. Like its numerous competitors, Island Fin Poke offers a number of build-your-bowl options. Raw fish (sustainably sourced ahi tuna, spicy tuna, and salmon) is the go-to protein pick but you can also opt for cooked octopus and shrimp. (Landlubbers, you're covered here too — there's chicken, tofu, and even Spam since poke is Hawaiian in origin, after all.) Toppings which included seaweed salad, wasabi peas, and pineapple & mango salsa are plentiful and the wide variety of house-made sauces (all gluten-free) come in two waves: "marinating" then "finishing."

If choosing your own poke adventure seems overwhelming, you can opt for one of the pre-selected bowl options. Make sure to save for dessert. Disney fans especially will be delighted to find soft-serve pineapple Dole Whip on the menu.

Island Fin Poke franchises are scattered across the country from coast to coast with plans to extend its reach across 13 states with a multiple-location push in West Florida.

Cousins Maine Lobster

This "Shark Tank" sensation is well-versed in the benefits of the Barbara Corcoran boost. Since the prolific entrepreneur invested in Cousins on the show in 2012, the company has grown from a single successful truck into a multi-million dollar enterprise. Yes, it's actually owned by a pair of cousins, one of which happens to be Grill of Victory host Sabin Lomac, and the secret to their success (beyond appearing on a wildly successful network reality series) is the ability to source real deal, high-quality Maine lobster.

Start with a bowl of lobster bisque (the just creamy enough clam chowder also warms the soul), then snack on crispy tater tots which are served alongside a 5-ounce lobster tail. Onto the lobster roll with plenty of meat stuffed into a toasted, buttery bun. There are two options and both are stellar. The classic Maine roll features lobster served chilled and dressed in mayo. If you prefer your lobster cooked and dunked in drawn butter, the Connecticut Roll is more your taste. There are taco and grilled cheese options too, the rolls should be your focus. 

Cousins has dozens of truck and brick & mortar franchises throughout the country and the enterprise continues to grow. (A recent Alabama expansion raised the state total to 16.) If your only experience with lobster involves trying it in a certain Red chain, a meal here will open you up to a whole new world.

Eddie V's

Austin-based Eddie V's is the place to go for upscale seafood served with plenty of Lone Star swagger. That Texas two-step is front and center in the must-order starter Maine Lobster Tacos prepared with house made tortillas and a grilled sweet corn pico de gallo. The Texas Redfish, served meuniere style with jumbo lump crab, and the oxymoronic Jumbo Gulf Shrimp, oven-roasted and also with a jumbo lump crab accompaniment, fit the bill too.

Another common (and welcome) menu thread is a pan-Asian influence found in apps such as the yellowtail sashimi and spicy, crispy Kung Pao Calamari with wok-fried vegetables and cashews and impressive mains like Hong Kong-style steamed Chilean sea bass and Misoyaki Halibut, pan roasted with sugar snap peas and a miso broth.

If you have money to burn, there are far worse ways to set it ablaze than putting in an order of South African Lobster paired with Imperial Osetra Petrossian caviar. With nearly 30 locations from sea to shining sea (thanks to a recent move into California), Eddie V's appears destined to become the definitive name in fine seafood dining.


Launched in California (where there are currently a half-dozen locations in addition to franchises in nine other states coast-to-coast), this self-proclaimed "modern seafood shack" keeps spreading its fins across the country. According to Restaurant News, Slapfish "is the largest and fastest growing seafood chain in America" thanks to a partnership with franchise development company Fransmart — which has worked with Five Guys, The Halal Guys, and Qdoba among other big-name food brands. That means there's a good chance you'll find a location in your neck of the woods sometime soon.

Standards on the menu such as New England clam chowder, fish tacos (grilled or crispy), and shrimp cocktail do the trick but keep an eye out for the more creative fare like Chowder Fries and the Clobester (as in crab and lobster) grilled cheese. The chain even introduced a limited edition surf & turf sandwich collaboration with Nathan's Famous which, according to Food Management, "has half a pound of rib eye steak with caramelized onions and American cheese, plus a quarter pound of butter-poached lobster in a Balthazar Bakery bun that has been dressed with Pat LaFrieda steak sauce mixed with mayonnaise." 

It's no surprise that chef and owner Andrew Gruel acknowledges, "Our goal at Slapfish is to get people to eat more seafood. There's a seafood deficiency in the U.S. If we can make it fun and sexy again, hopefully we can get people to eat more of it."

Hook & Reel

The aim of Maryland-based Hook & Reel is "crustacean domination" and with 60 locations and counting, it's a goal that isn't that far-fetched. Forbes reports that the "inspired seafood restaurant chain is expanding fast," reeling in fans, from Denver to the Bronx, that are hungry for Cajun-inspired eats.

The seafood boil anchors the menu and you know the drill: Pick your shellfish which you can mix and match (perhaps a crawfish and Dungeness crab combo?); select the sauce and spice level; add some extras like potatoes, corn-on-the-cob, or sausage; open the bag; dig in; use plenty of wet naps. Beyond the boil, you'll also find baskets of fried seafood (there's even a lobster tail option if you're feeling fancy), oysters on the half shell, seafood spaghetti marinara, and a selection of po' boys, the classic Louisiana sandwich. Prices are reasonable and the vibe is festive so it's no surprise Hook & Reel is such a sensation.

Mason's Famous Lobster Rolls

The simplicity of the lobster roll means that the filling has to truly shine. In other words, there's no hiding inferior meat. With Mason's Famous you know you're getting your money's worth since the budding lobster roll specialist exclusively sources lobster from Maine.

The (pardon the pun) main attraction on the limited menu are the mayo-y Classic and buttery Connecticut lobster rolls. According to the Rehoboth Foodie review, "They are both delicious and some of the best I have tasted outside of Boston and Maine." They're joined by a lobster BLT roll, a lobster salad roll, The Bar Harbor (any roll packed with the meat of an entire lobster), plus a less expensive shrimp roll.

Over the past seven years, Mason's has been making its way down the East Coast. Seven more locations are "coming soon" with plans to finally set up shop west of the Mississippi in Denver and Minneapolis.

Krispy Rice

Ghost kitchens are scaring up plenty of business and C3, a subsidiary of cool kids conglomerate SBE, is getting in on the action. While the company is behind multiple concepts including a partnership with Michelin-starred chef Dani Garcia, Krispy Rice may be the most promising venture.

Inspired by popular Los Angeles-based sushi chain Katsuya (another SBE acquisition), the menu features modern Japanese bites that can be ordered a la carte or as part of a combination box. The chain's namesake (think sushi with a fried block of rice) is prepared four ways but the original spicy tuna version can't be topped. There is also a selection of standard nigiri sushi prepared with sustainable fish, cut maki rolls, and soy paper-wrapped hand rolls (the baked crab, a Katsuya staple, is a must), along with items like fried chicken gyoza, shrimp tempura, edamame, and tuna tartare with luxurious layers of masago (flying fish roe) and a truffle avocado mix.

Krispy Rice is testing the waters in select major cities including Los Angeles, New York, Miami, and San Francisco (it's available to order via the familiar big time delivery apps). If all goes well the hope is to expand to 75 locations by the end of 2022.