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Eat and Drink

NYC fish markets you need to visit

We've reeled in some of New York's best places to buy fresh fish -- just in time for the meatless Fridays of Lent.

While buying and cooking fresh fish may sound daunting, especially in a tiny New York apartment with questionable circulation, there are so many great places in NYC to purchase fresh seafood. We're surrounded by water, after all.

You need not be a fish expert in order to purchase your favorite restaurant cut. "A sign of a good fish market is that you should be able to ask your fish monger what to buy," says Adam Geringer-Dunn, executive chef and owner of Greenpoint Fish and Lobster. "He may not be the best cook, but he should have cooking suggestions."

To start, tell your fishmonger what you like to eat or have experience preparing. Fluke and flounder are usually fairly easy to come by and even more difficult to mess up.

Another key to spotting a good fish market is whole fish, not just fillets. "Look for clear eyes, bulging out, not sunken in, and flesh that's firm," says Geringer-Dunn. Even if you're not planning on buying and de-boning a whole fish, product that looks like it just came out of the water is a good sign that the market is using fresh, healthy fish.

Choosing fresh versus farmed can incite another dilemma, and while fresh is oftentimes preferred by health professionals and sustainability activists, farmed can also be a safe and perhaps better alternative. Check the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch (, or download the free app) to see if the fish you're about to purchase is sustainable and in season, and if fresh or farmed is the best choice.

Once you're set on buying fish, head to one of these fish markets to bait and catch the fish best for you.

Greenpoint Fish & Lobster Co.

The only sustainable seafood market in Greenpoint, this
Photo Credit: Melissa Kravitz

The only sustainable seafood market in Greenpoint, this Brooklyn destination also functions as a restaurant, complete with counter side seats and table service in the back. One sure sign of a good fish market is fast turnover -- by selling fish retail and as a restaurant, this venue helps turn product quickly and keeps expenses lower than if they had unusable raw fish at the end of the day.

Greenpoint Fish only sells sustainable fish, either from local fishers or shipped in overnight. A daily rotating list of available seafood lists the boats or farms from which each fish originated, and the market tries to have a close relationship with as many fisherpeople and boat captains as possible.

The market carries plenty of fresh fillets and whole fish, as well as seafood like clams and oysters. Further, Greenpoint Fish is branching out to discover more interesting, environmentally friendly and healthy (no pesticides, no hormones) fish products. What you're buying here isn't cheap, but it's high quality and a worthy splurge.

114 Nassau Ave., Brooklyn, 718-349-0400,

The Lobster Place

One of NYC's biggest fish markets, The Lobster
Photo Credit: Max Flatow for The Lobster Place

One of NYC's biggest fish markets, The Lobster Place sells thousands of pounds of both wholesale and retail seafood every day.

Located in Chelsea Market, this fish market is often packed with tourists opting for the notoriously fresh takeout sushi or the freshly boiled lobster by the pound.

The best deals (and perhaps product) is found in the retail fish market, where live lobsters can be chosen by weight, an enormous selection of clams and oysters can inspire plenty of home-cooked dinner, and fresh cuts of sushi-grade fish can lead to an at-home sushi night. Pre-marinated, skewered, seasoned or crusted fresh fish are also available to help cut out a few steps while preparing fish at home.

An online store shows what's in stock, provides cooking tips for everything from king crab legs to blowfish tails, and allows you to place an over-the-phone order for quick pickup in the store. But browsing the colorful, enticing fish (some of which is pre-cooked if you really prefer not to cook fish) is irreplaceable.

Executive chef John Beatty of CATCH is a fan of this market. "The best days to hit The Lobster Place are Wednesdays and Thursdays," he recommends. This is when they bring in fish that has just arrived from the larger marketplace. "As a bonus, you have the option to buy the fish whole as is -- and for no extra charge they will clean and portion for you!"

75 9th Ave., 212-255-5672,

Ocean Fish Market

Decorated like a tropical getaway, walking into this
Photo Credit: OceanFishMarket via Facebook

Decorated like a tropical getaway, walking into this Astoria fish market is almost like boarding a cruise ship's restaurant -- except you don't need a ticket.

Ocean Fish Market owns five of its own boats to bring in local catch and sell the seafood at fair prices.

While you can get standard salmon fillets here, the most remarkable part of the market is its expansive selection of whole fish as well as live seafood, including eels, crabs, lobsters and sea urchin.

When he cooks at home, Gary Tackett, executive chef at Sekend Sun is a fan of the local spot.

35-08 30th Av., Astoria, 718-721-2391, no website

Metropolitan Fish Market

The only fish market left in Williamsburg, stepping
Photo Credit: Metropolitan Fish Market

The only fish market left in Williamsburg, stepping into Metropolitan is like visiting a relic of old New York. Open for retail and restaurant wholesale, at this family-run business you'll find plenty of whole fresh fish, live crustaceans and plenty of fillet specials. This is the neighborhood spot to pick up fresh seafood, with fresh catch of the day often advertised at intriguingly low prices. Speaking of prices, this cash-only market may be flexible if you stock up on lobsters and more.

635 Metropolitan Ave., Brooklyn, 718-387-6835,

Acme Smoked Fish

You're not visiting Acme for fresh fish, but
Photo Credit: acmesmokedfish via Facebook

You're not visiting Acme for fresh fish, but smoked, which is preferable to plenty of New Yorkers.

It's a Brooklyn tradition to line up outside this Greenpoint wholesale smoked fish retailer -- which sells to countless notable NYC restaurants -- on Friday mornings when it opens to the public from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The cash-only factory outlet sells several types of its signature smoked fish, from lox to herring to specialty whole whitefish at wholesale prices for a brief five hours a week -- stock up for weekend brunch and beyond. George Weld, owner of Williamsburg's egg, is a fan of the local spot.

30 Gem St., Brooklyn,

Blue Moon Fish

Family-owned Blue Moon Fish brings fresh catches from
Photo Credit: Blue Moon Fish

Family-owned Blue Moon Fish brings fresh catches from Long Island into NYC Greenmarkets at Union Square, Grand Army Plaza and TriBeCa.

A favorite of chef Mark Forgione, Blue Moon Fish sells fresh, local and seasonal selections, from halibut to bay scallops, at reasonable prices.


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