Ocean City has always been a popular tourist destination thanks to its iconic boardwalk, where visitors can enjoy stunning views of the Atlantic. Being so close to the sea, many restaurants feature fantastically fresh seafood, with steamed shellfish a speciality. Here is a list of the must try restaurants for any Ocean City visitor.
The Shark on the Harbor sits in the commercial fishing harbour of West Ocean City. The restaurant team work to maintain a flexible attitude to cuisine, based entirely on what happens to be influencing them at the time. The menu, which changes daily, features an array of locally caught seafood and fresh organic produce. While subject to constant change due to the nature of their design, dishes have included shrimp, wild oysters and inventive vegetarian dishes, such as pan-seared cauliflower ‘steak’.
Phillip’s Crab Shack is the original venue of Phillip’s Seafood Restaurants group, an Ocean City institution that has been serving up fresh fish and shellfish for more than 50 years. Since then, Phillip’s has slowly spread out across the US, popping up in Baltimore, Atlantic City and even Washington DC. The Crab Shack has been voted the best all-you-can-eat buffet in Ocean City. This isn’t surprising given the incredible choice of seafood that is on offer; snow crab legs, steamed clams and grilled shark are just some of the many options that diners can choose from.
BJ’s On The Water is not just an excellent waterside restaurant, it is also a first rate live music venue. The restaurant opened in 1979 by owner Billy Carder. A self-confessed nature lover, Carder has maintained a particularly interesting tradition at BJ’s: at 1pm every day, staff and customers are encouraged to feed the local water fowl (such as ducks and geese). When they aren’t feeding the birds, however, patrons can fill themselves with stuffed fish dishes, sandwiches, chicken wings and more. Live music takes place four days a week (and sometimes more).
The specialty item on the Harborside Bar and Grill’s menu is the simple orange crush. Except at Harborside, the crushes are anything but simple. Inventive ‘crush-tails’ combine innovative mixes of fruit and good quality spirits, which are perfect for sipping in the afternoon sun. Service is as rustic and relaxed as the venue itself; the ‘rules’ warn customers that the staff will not hesitate to mock them if they ask stupid questions. That aside, the food that the Harborside Bar and Grill serves up is incredibly tasty. Stuffed mushrooms, jerk chicken and an assortment of steamed shellfish are all available for sampling throughout a long afternoon.
Ristorante Antipasti is a true Italian restaurant, focusing on traditional dishes for a clientele of regular customers. Recipes have been passed through generations, handed down from mothers and grandmothers. Each night at eight o’clock, chef Fausto welcomes customers with a dance to Michael Jackson’s Don’t stop ‘til you get enough, and then introduces the chefs who are working in the open kitchen. Dishes include an award winning timballo, a lasagne-like dish with minced beef, veal and pork, and gnocchi. During the winter months, the restaurant invites diners to take cookery classes with Fausto, who will teach them to cook true Italian food.
Despite its name, Seacrets is not at all secretive. Sat on a large site in Ocean City, Seacrets is not just a restaurant but also a hotel and nightclub venue. Despite the fact it has a reputation for being a great place for a party, Seacrets is similarly a family friendly place to eat. The venue is famous for its legendary honey mustard sauce, which guests can opt to buy in bottles to take back home with them. Dishes include a great variety of fish and meat options, with seared tuna steaks, Caribbean quesadillas and a Jamaican-inspired pizza among the many available options.
The Captain’s Table is a family owned restaurant that operates out of the Courtyard Marriot hotel. At Captain’s Table live music accompanies the dining experience every Friday and Saturday as Phil Perdue delights guests from the grand piano. The menu features the best in local ingredients and allows a takeaway option for those that would rather eat in their hotel room. Surf and turf options showcase the very best in meat and shellfish as beef and lobster are united on one plate.
Overlooking the Ocean City Marina, Micky Fins serves up some of the best casual dining in the city. Fish is the most prevalent option on the menu, with scallops Florentine, lobster rolls and yellowfin tuna all making an appearance. What makes Micky Fins unique, however, is its celebrated whisky bar. The extensive menu features American whiskies; smooth southern inspired bourbons; single malt and blended Scotch whiskies; and even Canadian and Irish variants. With regular live music, Micky Fins is a great place to enjoy a good meal and a great drink.
At Crab Alley, the speciality is, as the name suggests, crab. However, what is surprising are the many ways that the restaurant has found to prepare Ocean City’s favourite crustacean. There are crab rolls, crab cakes, crab soups (multiple varieties) and whole crabs which are generously priced according to weight. You can even choose between Maryland crabs and snow crabs. All-you-can-eat feasts come in a variety of options with a choice of added ‘turf’ in the form of a barbecued rack of pork ribs.