Combing coastal towns for the catch of the day is one of the joys of visiting or living in the Pacific Northwest. Fine dining establishments, casual cafes, fish markets and even dockside fishermen offer seafood that, if any fresher, would still be swimming.
The search is easy: Pull into nearly any coastal town from Brookings near the California border north to Long Beach Peninsula and look for signs proclaiming "Fresh Seafood." The secret of the search is to know which season brings in which catch.
When it comes to restaurants, look for establishments that serve market-fresh seafood. One that does fresh, in-season seafood particularly well is Local Ocean Seafoods in Newport. With a fish counter for take-out preparation at home, and a dining room serving the chef's fresh creations, this is one of the best spots for seafood lovers along the coast.
Pacific Seafood's two restaurants, The Fish Peddler, in Bay City and Newport, are co-located with their shrimp and oyster processing plants. There, "fresh, local and affordable" is the mantra, and you can eat in or get a seafood cocktail to go. For decades, people have gravitated to a coastal original for the chowder—Mo's Restaurants, on the north and central coasts—but many other items fly out of the kitchen as well, such as Mo's fresh baked Yaquina Bay oysters.
You'll never go wrong with standard, time-honored fish counter fare found up and down the coast and endorsed by millions of fans: smoked salmon, clam chowder and shrimp or Dungeness crab cocktail.
In most cases "fresh" means exactly that, but when in doubt, don't hesitate to inquire when and where it was caught. Some establishments—Local Ocean Seafoods, for instance—readily display that information, including the boat that hauled it in. When buying fresh, raw seafood, use the nose test: odorless means fresh; a fishy odor means, well... something fishy is going on, a problem you likely will not encounter on the coast where fresh seafood is so abundant.
Seasonal Fresh Caught Seafood on the Coast
Part of the fun of a fresh seafood hunt is expanding your horizons. If you learn what season brings which catch, you'll soon hone in on some new fresh favorites and the best spots to find them.
Fresh Catch on the Oregon Coast
Late spring, summer, early fall (dates vary by coastal region)
(North Coast) summer, early fall
Late winter, spring, early mid-summer
Summer, early fall
Late spring, summer, early fall
Flounder, Sole, Rockfish, Lingcod
Fresh Catch on the Washington Coast
May and August
August and September
- By Allen Cox
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