This summer, it’s easy to channel your favorite coastal cities and serve a few of your favorite seafood dishes for a coastal seafood date night dinner party based on these regional specialties.
To me, nothing says summer like fresh seafood, even if you’re landlocked. Whether it’s a casual meal after work or an elegant dinner for a special occasion, you can find seafood recipes that fit the bill. Most of these recipes are inspired by regional specialties from cities up and down the East and West coasts.
In New England, Maine is synonymous with lobster and after sampling the lobster rolls from roadside seafood shacks outside of Portland, I completely understand why. 90 minutes South in Boston — and in outlying beach towns like Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard — you can get fresh-shucked oysters almost anywhere and find some of the best raw bar seafood in the country.
Even further south, the Chesapeake Bay on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, is a huge tourist destination that draws crowds eager to experience famous Maryland crab cakes. Broiled or fried, prepared with lump crabmeat and intricate spices, Maryland crab cakes are so good that true Marylanders generally won’t eat them anywhere else.
Other cities along the East coast do seafood especially well, like Charleston, the South Carolina outpost for low-country fresh Atlantic shrimp and grits to she-crab soup. In Louisiana, , char-grilled oysters and crawfish étouffée make you almost forget that you really came to New Orleans for the Vieux Carré and the Sazerac.
When you head to the West coast, your first stop is Seattle, known not only for its coffee but for the Pike Place Market, where tourists come for the excitement of merchants tossing the latest catch, but stay for the fresh salmon, Dungeness crab and other shell fish. In San Diego, there’s no better way to discover the city than my exploring its Southern California Mexican offerings, like fish tacos and fresh, simple ceviches.
As awesome as all of this sounds, most of us don’t have access to a private jet that will fly us around the country looking for the perfect catch. Instead, you can recreate your favorite coastal dishes from the best seafood regions in the country in your very own kitchen. And whether it’s a date night dinner party for some of your nearest and dearest pescetarian friends or it’s an intimate gathering for two, we have both East Coast and a West Coast menus to give you the inspiration and ideas that you need.
Coastal Party Decor
For your table decor, opt for simple, simple, simple. If your meal is more casual, channel the low-country shrimp boil and keep things rustic, with a gingham table cloth and brown craft paper as your table cover plus lots of bright flowers to offset white plates and serve ware.
If you’re feeling a little more elegant, take a “Hamptons chic” approach, with a blue and white beach-inspired color scheme. Top your table with a striped table runner and natural fiber place mats, along with some sea-inspired candles and shells for decor.
East Coast Menu Ideas