Top 10 Best Boat Up Bars

Written by Boatsetter Team
January 4, 2018

Last Updated on June 9, 2022 by Boatsetter Team

The Boatyard Bar & Grill – Annapolis, MD

Nestled in the historic maritime district of Eastport, the Boatyard Bar & Grill offers local mariners, families and friends an escape from the bustling vibes of the nation’s capital.  Conveniently located a short walk or water taxi ride from the Annapolis City docks, the Boatyard is a perfect venue for boaters looking to grab a beer and one of the kitchen’s award winning crab cakes.

Since its doors opened in 2001, The Boatyard has remained dedicated to celebrating Chesapeake Bay’s rich maritime history. The mahogany floors, wooden beams and seafoam green ceiling create a unique, nautical atmosphere for those lucky enough to find a seat (no reservations). Owner Dick Franyo is most proud of the diverse crowd that frequents his famous bayside watering hole. Dick notes that it is not uncommon to find a yacht owner, boat mechanic and charter fishing captain sitting side-by-side at the bar chatting about last week’s regatta or the day’s fishing conditions.

Just as diverse as the crowd at The Boatyard is the food. Visitors craving a local taste will enjoy the cream of crab soup and extensive raw bar offerings. For locals looking to expand their palate, the specialty smoked fish of the day or “world famous” chicken pot pie are among several satisfying alternatives to the Chesapeake area’s traditional cuisine.  Be sure to end your meal with the Boatyard’s Smith Island Cake… Maryland’s official dessert.

Casablanca Seafood Bar & Grill – Miami, FL

Perched on the banks of the Miami River, Casablanca Seafood Bar & Grill has provided Floridians premier dockside dining for over two decades. Whether you have spent the afternoon cruising with family and friends or have returned from a long day of fishing, plan to stop by Casablanca to enjoy a cold drink, a bite to eat and one of downtown Miami’s most scenic views.

What started as a small fish market run by two Cuban-American brothers, Casablanca has transformed into one of South Florida’s most celebrated seafood joints. The five-star ambiance, excellent service and fresh daily cuisine offered by Casablanca attract locals and tourists alike.  Casablanca has, however, remained loyal to its roots. Each morning the restaurant’s fleet of commercial fishing boats can be seen pulling up to the dock with boatloads of fresh seafood. Employing its own crew of fishermen gives Casablanca unique control of its food supply. Out of Snapper? No More Grouper? Not a problem. Casablanca will often send its crew out to haul in a fresh catch just to satisfy customer requests.

Next time you are in the area, stops by Casablanca Seafood Bar & Grill. Pull up your boat, take a seat on the outdoor patio and relax over perfectly chilled oysters and one of the bar’s signature mojitos.

The Barking Crab – Boston, MA

New Englanders love seafood. The Barking Crab, located in Boston’s historic Fort Point Channel, understands and caters to this craving. The restaurant first set sail in 1994 and has since anchored itself as one of New England’s top dockside venues.

This shanty-inspired venue prides itself on traditional seafood offerings, scenic views, and a year-round summer atmosphere. The Barking Crab attracts those who enjoy a lively dining experience…its long, wooden tables are designed for communal dining, and an animated younger crowd usually populates the bar.

Marina access provides boaters a perfect staging area after a long day of cruising the Boston Harbor Islands, fishing for the strip(ahs) in Massachusetts Bay or venturing up the coast from the North or South Shores.  The Barking Crab’s location is just as easily accessible for pedestrians strolling Boston’s Seaport District. Stop by the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum then head over to The Crab for its award-winning New England clam chowdah and a tangy peach julep. Try one of the many crab dishes as well. After all, the restaurant’s motto is, “everyone should have crabs”…

Chinooks at Salmon Bay – Seattle, WA

Chinook’s at Salmon Bay is one of Seattle’s best-known waterfront establishments. Grab a drink before heading to a game (yes, Chinook’s offers a ferry service to Husky Stadium on game days) or pull up your boat to enjoy a delicious meal in a charming bayside setting. Chinook’s has you covered.

This inter-bay spot is moored in the heart of Seattle’s bustling Fisherman’s Terminal, home to Washington’s commercial fishing fleet of over 600 vessels. Local mariners have called Fisherman’s Terminal home for over a century, embracing the natural haven tucked deep inside Puget Sound. Arriving by sea? Guest moorage is available in front of the restaurant for recreational boaters. Contact the Fisherman’s Terminal Office on VHF channel 17 to check slip availability and for other harbor-related questions.

Chinook’s offers both indoor and outdoor seating but does not take reservations during peak hours (for larger parties, be sure to call ahead). Once seated, Chinook’s friendly staff makes you feel right at home. Enjoy the fresh Northwest seafood, native drafts, and lively atmosphere, perhaps to the tune of a local band. Those looking for a traveling meal to bring on board should head around the corner to Little Chinook’s, a seafood shack offering a medley of ‘to go’ options.

Sam’s Anchor Cafe – Tiburon, CA

Home to one of the most active boating communities in the nation, Sam’s has established itself as one of the most popular spot’s to hang out on a nice day. Surrounded by the Pacific, this spot is one of our absolute favorites… and with San Francisco as the backdrop, you can’t ask for a more ideal spot to get a sunburn.

Sam’s Anchor Cafe is on this list as it’s one of the few truly waterfront restaurants/bars on San Francisco Bay. Located in the charming town of Tiburon, it’s amazing views of the city, patio on the water, and great food make this a go-to for hundreds of people every weekend.
Evenings at Sam’s are especially rewarding. Unwind with your friends and a favorite beverage while watching the lights come on in San Francisco across the bay. Then dine in the warm atmosphere of comfortable dining rooms and treat yourself to a seasonal dinner menu with vegetarian and gluten-free options. We also offer a carefully selected wine list and well-crafted beverages.

Bridge House Tavern – Chicago, IL

Located in the trendy River North neighborhood of downtown Chicago, Bridge House Tavern offers a casual atmosphere with waterfront dining. Locals may remember it as the restaurant Flatwater, which changed ownership in 2011 and has since been renamed. The Bridge House has both street and river access; docking availability and fees vary.  If cruising upriver, keep an eye out for the tree-lined patio and parallel dock space on your starboard side.

The concept for Bridge House Tavern evolved from its historic surroundings. The long and narrow space mimics the old bridges that stretch downriver. A strategically placed mural at the end of the dining area creates an optical illusion, creating the perception of looking down the Chicago River at bridges and factory lined banks.

While this rustic feel creates a unique ambiance, don’t overlook the outside dining option with spectacular views of the river from the restaurant’s cozy patio. Dock your boat, climb up the sea ladder and kick back on the patio while enjoying fresh fish and one of the several local brews. Afterward, take a post-meal spin around Lake Michigan. Does it get any better than that?

Harbor Docks – Destin, FL

Harbor Docks in Destin is a local institution that has been satisfying seafood fanatics for over three decades. Since 1979 Harbor Docks has taken pride in offering only the freshest seafood available.  The restaurant, originally a wholesale fish market, offers easy marina access and a perfect spot to dock and dine.

Nestled inside Destin Harbor at the entrance of Choctawhatchee Bay, Harbor Docks attracts a diverse crowd. Local fishermen, wake-boarders, boat mechanics, and families all stop by to enjoy the irresistible blackened shrimp, ginger tuna and specialty sushi rolls. Or order a loaded Bloody Mary, one of the bar’s signature cocktails, and head out to the deck for a relaxing vibe and one of the Panhandle’s most spectacular views.  Once the sun sets, dance to live music performed by one of the many local bands that frequent the establishment…Harbor Dock’s two full bars attract an enthusiastic crowd after dark.

Slip 14 – Nantucket, MA

Nantucket Island, situated approximately 30 miles southeast of Cape Cod, is known for its beautiful beaches, rich maritime history, and fantastic food. Arriving by boat? Hail the Boat Basin on VHF channel 11 to request a slip. For those desiring a bit more privacy, Nantucket Moorings on VHF channel 68 offers daily and overnight harbor mooring rentals, just a quick launch ride away from the town docks.

Dozens of quaint restaurants line the cobblestoned streets and winding docks downtown, making a difficult choice of where to drink and dine. Slip 14 has acquired the well-deserved reputation as one of the Island’s premier waterfront venues. Tucked away on Old South Wharf inside the Nantucket Boat Basin, it might take a bit of exploring before you stumble across this classic New England bar and grill. But persistence will be rewarded.

Once settled, listen for the daily specials. The kitchen at Slip 14 is always tinkering with new recipes and enjoys offering guests a diverse array of nightly specials. Can’t decide what to drink? Ask for a Blue Haired Lady. This ‘secret’ concoction is known by most bartenders on the Island but rarely advertised on drink menus. The Blue Haired Lady is a combination of the local Cisco Brewery’s two most popular sellers – a Grey Haired Lady beer with a shot of Triple 8 Blueberry Vodka. Try it.

Make time to stop by Cisco Brewers for its Island crafted spirits. The Brewery is a unique outdoor venue with live music, food trucks and separate bars for beer, wine, and liquor.  On your voyage home from Nantucket, you are likely to spot dozens of boats lined up at Brant Point Lighthouse, its passengers tossing pennies overboard for good luck. This Nantucket tradition is as strong as the currents that rip across its south shore.

Butler’s Flat Clam Shack – Port Washington, NY

Butler’s Flat Clam Shack, located on the east side of scenic Manhasset Bay in Port Washington, brings a taste of New England to the shores of Long Island. Owner Christopher Blumlo named the shack in honor of Butler’s Flat Light, a lighthouse moored in the outer harbor of New Bedford, Massachusetts. The Shack offers a casual environment, savory seafood, and dockside access.  Contact the Brewer Capri Marina to request a transient slip then walk down the dock and enjoy a waterfront meal.

Growing up in the old-fashioned fishing village of N.B motivated Blumlo to open this New England style eatery.  The
Shack’s atmosphere and cuisine are inspired by Blumlo’s childhood memories of digging up clams, eating stuffed quahogs and frying fresh scallops with his family. Butler’s Flat Clam Shack strongly supports local purveyors and harvests the freshest produce across the Northeast when possible. Scallops from Montauk, shrimp from the coast of Maine and clams from Cape Cod’s mudflats are just a few of many appetizing offerings. Throughout the summer season the Shack also lists ‘catch specials’, fish caught with a line and pole from the shores of Eastern Long Island. Additionally, all alcohol served at the Shack is from local Northeast breweries and wineries.

Not many seafood restaurants can compete with Butler’s Flat Clam Shack. Excellent food, convenient dockside access and beautiful views of Port Washington make the Shack an obvious choice for all.

The Cannery – Newport Beach, CA

Tucked away inside the West Lido Channel, The Cannery has catered to seafood lovers for over 90 years. Cruise through the Corona Del Mar bend and make your way into Newport Bay, keeping an eye out for the West Lido Channel on your port side. The Cannery sits on the left bank of the channel and offers ample dock space for boaters. In addition to the Cannery’s private dock, a long public dock stretches perpendicular to the restaurant.

The rich history of The Cannery is much appreciated by the Newport Beach community.  In 1921 a commercial fish cannery was erected in the West Lido Channel, the hub of Newport’s commercial fishing district. The Western Canners Co. headed the operation for decades and produced hundreds of cases a day. Today the two-story rustic building is a local staple. Delicious seafood, steaks, and chops attract a daily crowd. The swordfish tacos, fish n’ chips made with Pacific cod and fresh lobster roll are a few local favorites.

Following your meal, there is plenty to do around town. Head over to Newport Pier and catch a stunning sunset or check out the Wedge, a world famous surf spot located at the base of the jetty near the mouth of the Newport Bay channel. Here you’ll have a front-row seat as daring surfers take on one of California’s most challenging waves.

Written by Rob Hynes

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