Many spots on Cape Cod have mediocre fresh and fried seafood: the Chatham Pier Fish Market is, by far, the best for both quality and proximity to the ocean (so good, in fact, that in my four days on the Cape, we visited twice).
In the case are fish and shellfish by the pound. There is also a small menu of fried food that includes whole and strip clams, sea and bay scallops, shrimp,and fish, and all are served with the most delicious french fries (crispy outside, soft inside, seasoned perfectly). Fresh, local oysters are $0.95 each, will be prepared for you over ice with lemon and cocktail sauce (I’m a purist, they’re best with just a squeeze of lemon), and are delicious.
Picnic tables are across the small parking lot for eating, but when you’re finished, be sure not to miss the deck where you can watch fishermen bring in their daily catch. We must have seen a ton of flounder coming off the boat.
The staff of the fish market (mostly teens) is upbeat, friendly, and still learning, but the owner is extremely knowledgeable. During one of our visits, a guy who opened my oysters cut himself and then let the iced oysters sit on the counter while the rest of our food was being prepared, but don’t let that change your mind (I would imagine this was a very rare occurence)! $1 very fresh oysters right on the ocean is a great find and everyone is very friendly/helpful.
Parking is limited – there are a few places to the left of the market for pick-up, but if you plan to stay at the pier, park in the lot above next to the road.
Keep in mind that this is a seasonal business! In 2011, they open the first week in May.
Chatham Pier Fish Market, 45 Barcliff Ave, Chatham, MA