Are all coastal locations created equal when it comes to the variety and deliciousness of their seafood?
We think not!
While there are definitely famous parts of the United States to venture to that offer various delectable seafood bites—not many places can top Washington, which is known as the seafood capital of the West Coast. Once you’ve experienced the freshness of the seafood markets and online businesses such as Fathom Seafood have to offer, go fishing for your own seafood at one of the many recreational fishing spots, or hit up the top 10 seafood restaurants in the state, you’ll completely understand the obvious nickname.
What are some of the qualities that make Washington state the best place for seafood?
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) oversees regulations and management for a variety of fisheries, working to ensure a robust commercial fishing and shellfishing industry for the future.
Groups of scientists, biologists, university staff and students, and government officials are making huge efforts to keep Washington fisheries sustainable. Sustainable Fisheries, funded by the University of Washington, are making leaps and bounds with keeping up with the modern science of sustainability, creating community projects, and educating and empowering citizens.
According to them, “The US leads the way in sustainability with 95% of fisheries providing over 99% of consumed seafood.”
“We hope our focus on the relationship between people and fish empowers indigenous people, fishermen & women, and fishery scientists & managers by promoting perspectives that build respect and appreciation for the people that depend on seafood for food and livelihood. We intend to be a constant reminder that fisheries and sustainability are constructs created by and for people.”
Commercial, recreational, and tribal fishing opportunities
Puget Sound is the main commercial crabbing area in Washington. WDFW’s site states that “Puget Sound is home to two fleets of commercial vessels, tribal and state. The state commercial crab fleet possesses about 248 licenses. There are 228 Washington coastal commercial Dungeness crab license holders with approximately 200 fishers who are active participants in this highly competitive fishery.”
Port Seattle offers Five Fast Facts about Commercial Fishing:
- Seattle is sometimes called the “southern office” of Alaska.
- Fishing vessels based at Port of Seattle moorage facilities supply 13% of the total U.S. commercial fishing harvest by tonnage.
- Historic Fishermen’s Terminal also has a 100-year-old marine railway.
- Commercial fishing is big business.
- The average age of a maritime worker in Washington State is 54 years old.
The WDFW’s site also lists spots around Washington for scenic recreational fishing opportunities that also have other activities in the surrounding areas.
- Lowland lakes
- High lakes
- Marine areas
- Wildlife areas
- Water access areas
- Puget Sound fishing piers
They recommend that you be sure to review the rules and regulations and purchase the proper fishing license before you go. They even have a mobile app that can help you out!
The Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission is in charge of ensuring the tribes’ treaty-reserved fishing rights are protected. A ruling in 1974 “recognized the tribes as natural resources co-managers with the State of Washington with an equal share of the harvestable number of salmon returning annually.”
NWIFC member tribes are: Lummi, Nooksack, Swinomish, Upper Skagit, Sauk-Suiattle, Stillaguamish, Tulalip, Muckleshoot, Puyallup, Nisqually, Squaxin Island, Skokomish, Suquamish, Port Gamble S’Klallam, Jamestown S’Klallam, Lower Elwha Klallam, Makah, Quileute, Quinault, and Hoh.
Best seafood restaurants around Washington
Whether you’re an avid foodie or just have the taste for some seafood, the coast of Washington state is the place to be. Restaurants all around are famous for their succulent and mouth-watering dishes featuring the fresh seafood caught right there.
In this last section, we will explore a few of the best-rated Washington seafood restaurants along with customers’ personal reviews.
The Food Network lists some delectable options in their article “Eat Your Way through the Evergreen State: What to Eat in Washington.”
1.Chef Blaine Wetzel at The Willows Inn on Lummi Island has cracked the code to the perfect smoked salmon recipe. Using Sockeye caught off the shores of Lummi Island during the early stages of their spawning season (which makes them nice and fatty), Wetzel brines and then dries them to create a super flavorful fish.”
A Yelp Review: We got the opportunity to treat ourselves to the dinner tasting menu and breakfast at the Willows Inn restaurant. The food was phenomenal! Our favorites were the crab tetela, Ling cod ceviche, cauliflower and walnut hummus and the stone fruit with fig leaf cream. Breakfast favorites were the duck eggs and kale. Everything is locally sourced from their farm or from local waters. The tasting menu magically represents the gorgeous Pacific Northwest.
2.“Monsoon's owner, Sophie Banh, has been working with the same suppliers for the past two decades, and that includes Wong Tung seafood market in Seattle's International District, where she sources her live crab. The Saigon-style Dungeness crab is made to order —each crab is oil-blanched and finished off in the wok with shallots, garlic, butter, and five spice.”
A Yelp Review: This was one of my favorite meals I had in Seattle. It's a small Vietnamese restaurant so I would recommend making a reservation in advance. You have to order dungeness crab roll, caramelized idaho catfish claypot, green beans, and wild chanterelle mushrooms. Everything was so delish! The desserts looked amazing too, we just had no room.
If you’re looking for something more casual and family-friendly, check out the Crab Pot Restaurant and Bar.
3.“The Crab Pot Seattle is a fun and casual restaurant specializing in delicious seafood. What makes this particular restaurant famous is its incredible Seafeast. There are four different varieties of Seafeast but they all have one thing in common: giant steamed buckets of seafood that are dumped directly onto the table. The most popular is The Alaskan which comes with king crab, snow crab, Dungeness crab, steamed clams, shrimp, Pacific mussels, andouille sausage, red potatoes and corn on the cob.”
A Yelp Review: My personal favorite is 'The Alaskan' -- It's loaded with King Crab, Dungeness Crab, Snow Crab, Shrimp, Steamed Clams, Pacific Mussels, Andouille Sausage, Corn and potatoes. They also include a side of clarified butter. I ALWAYS ask for extra seasoning on the side to give my butter and seafood an extra kick of flavor!
Are you hungry? If you’re in the Washington area, make a reservation at one of the state’s amazing seafood establishments. Are you bored? Go fishing at one of the many scenic recreational fisheries or travel around the state tasting what restaurants have to offer. Are you concerned about the environment? Partner up with an organization and help promote sustainability.
There are so many activities, including eating, that involve seafood in the great state of Washington.
Do you know what else is home to Washington?
Fathom Seafood is one of the world's premier live Dungeness crab companies, shipping worldwide to nearly every continent, offering year round availability, and leading the industry in aquamarine science and on land aquatic tanking technologies.
Check out their site and order some live, fresh seafood from the wonderful state of Washington!