There's an undeniable allure to dining by the water. The gentle lapping of waves sets the rhythm for a meal filled with sensory delights. Whether it's the tranquil ambiance of a lakeside retreat, the bustling energy of a riverside promenade, or the expansive grandeur of an oceanfront vista, the experience somehow makes food taste even better than it might otherwise. Indeed, the connection between food and environment becomes almost palpable.
But there are also plenty of waterfront restaurants that rely too much on the location and let the quality of their food fall by the wayside. They assume -- perhaps rightly -- that plenty of people will put up with a sub-par meal just to enjoy the pleasures of a good view. But we're here to tell you that you can have it all -- a beautiful view and good food -- in the same restaurant. This list focuses on scenic waterfront establishments that also take pains to serve fresh, tasty, good-quality food you'd want to eat for its own sake. We've compiled it based on our own experiences and reviews and articles from relevant websites and publications; you can read more about our methodology at the end of the article. At these places, the view enhances every aspect of your gastronomic journey, rather than covering up a mediocre menu.
1. The River Cafe In New York
This legendary waterfront restaurant has been attracting New Yorkers and tourists alike for decades. Its prime location under the Brooklyn Bridge gives it stellar views of downtown Manhattan and the city skyline and makes it a destination eatery. You'd be hard-pressed to find a better dining room from which to watch the sunset, or to see the city turn from lustrous pink to twinkling darkness as the lights turn on.
Throughout it all, The River Cafe has managed to also remain relevant in the food scene. The menu offers classic American fare with seasonal ingredients and inventive dishes like rabbit loins with fig sausage, or wagyu steak tartare with cognac gelée. Take note: There's a lot of meat and fish on the menu, and not as much in the way of vegetables. However, there is a vegetarian menu available on request.
1 Water St, Brooklyn, NY 11201
2. Ocean Restaurant In Kennebunkport
When you step onto the porch at the Ocean Restaurant in Kennebunkport, Maine, you'll see why so many people choose this town for their holiday lodgings. The view of the craggy Maine coast is haunting; the ocean stretches out as far as the eye can see.
You should order the lobster if you're here when it's in season. While you can get good lobster pretty much anywhere in Maine, the Ocean Restaurant takes this crustacean to the next level, thanks in part to the copious use of butter.
208 Ocean Ave, Kennebunkport, ME 04046
3. Xiringuito Olivia In L'Escala, Spain
When a waterfront restaurant is not enough, there is Xiringuito Olivia, located directly on the beach off the main hubbub of Spain's L'Escala. The views here are of crystal-green waters and the city's charming old town, which is known for its excellent anchovies.
But there's more than just anchovies available at this casual spot. There is a fresh and tasty ceviche -- a light meal that's easy to crave during a hot Spanish summer -- and a really good burger, for starters. Don't skip the patatas bravas either, which are enrobed in a perfectly balanced paprika coating.
+34 621 12 03 49
Platja del Rec, 17130 Sant Martí d'Empúries, Girona, Spain
4. Mirazur In Menton, France
The view is so beautiful at some restaurants that you hardly notice the food. But at Mirazur, it's the other way around. Of course, you should make every effort to enjoy the view -- book a table by the large windows on the top floor and you'll be treated to a gloriously colorful panorama of the old city as the sun sets. But pay equal attention when those green beans with caviar arrive. They're from the restaurant's on-site garden and were picked especially for you, only a few hours before. You haven't truly known the power of green beans until you've sampled these.
+33 4 92 41 86 86
30 Av. Aristide Briand, 06500 Menton, France
5. Miky In Monterosso Al Mare, Italy
Monterosso al Mare is one of the five towns of Cinque Terre, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In this area, you have no shortage of good views, especially if you rent a boat or get a spot on a ferry that provides an up close and personal view of the area's signature cliff-dwelling buildings. To combine food with those beautiful views, stop at Miky. From this exceptional spot, you can see the beach and crystalline waters that define the coast. Go for the gnocchi with basil pesto -- a sauce that was invented in nearby Genoa.
+39 0187 817608
Via Fegina, 104, 19016 Monterosso al Mare SP
6. Ristorante Bagni Delfino, Sorrento, Italy
The obvious way to get the freshest (and therefore best) fish is to head to the dock from whence it came. This is essentially what you do if you go to Ristorante Bagni Delfino, located on a small dock in Sorrento. Sit anywhere in the restaurant and you'll be able to see Naples -- with Mount Vesuvius looming above -- on the other side of the bay.
Order seafood, of course, and don't be surprised if you find the fish you just saw swimming in the water below your feet on your plate. It's that fresh. Also, don't miss out on the wonderful selection of local wines.
+39 081 878 2038
Via Marina Grande, 216, 80067 Sorrento NA, Italy
7. Marssa Grillade In Eassaouira, Morocco
If you can brave the aggressive flocks of seagulls that haunt the docks in Essaouira, a beautiful fishing town in Morocco, then be sure to grab lunch at Massa Grillade. Here, they serve you the fish they caught that very day as you look out at the sea under the gaze of an ancient citadel.
As the name of the restaurant suggests most of their fish come grilled. Although the cuisine is simple, this truly is one of the best ways to enjoy fresh fish, as it lets the flavor of the star ingredient shine. All you need is a bit of freshly squeezed lemon on top and you're good to go.
44000 Essaouira, Morocco
8. Oxo Bar And Restaurant In London
There are plenty of decent restaurants on the South Bank of the Thames that offer a good view of London. But the best might just be the OXO Tower -- both for the quality of the food and for the fact that its higher elevation gives you an even wider view of your surroundings.
There are two restaurants in the OXO Tower. For a more casual experience, head to the Brasserie and indulge in some of their excellent small plates. For something more upscale there is the restaurant, where you can enjoy an iconic view of St. Paul's Cathedral while enjoying delicious lamb, venison, or vegetable tagine.
+44 20 7803 3888
Barge House St, London SE1 9PH, United Kingdom
9. Smith & Wollensky In Miami Beach
There are plenty of restaurants in Miami where you can eat good food and enjoy a stunning view of the beach. But Smith & Wollensky may be the only one where you can sip a fine martini while watching the cruise ships squeeze through a narrow canal and float out to sea. Just be sure to be there by late afternoon, when most ships set sail.
The restaurant is vast with plenty of seating, but make sure you book a table on the patio or stop at the bar. These are the best viewpoints for ship spotting. The steaks are the main culinary attraction, and for good reason. Be sure to arrive hungry.
1 Washington Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139, United States
10. Mama's Fish House In Paia, Hawaii
The fish at Mama's Fish House is so fresh that the menu transforms between lunch and dinner to reflect the change in what's available. This spot even gives you the name of the person who caught the fish, in case you want to know exactly where it came from.
It's best to make a reservation, as Mama's Fish House is a popular spot. But if you decide to just put your name on the waiting list, you won't be disappointed. Just walk right up to the beach while you await your table and stare contemplatively into the crashing waves. You won't get bored.
799 Poho Pl, Paia, HI 96779, United States
11. Sundara Bali In Badung Regency, Bali
The Four Seasons knows how to pick good spots, and it's done it again with the resort at Bali's Jimbaran Bay, where the Sundara restaurant is located. Sunset provides the most beautiful views for diners -- in addition to the ocean, you also get to enjoy the atmosphere of the fire pits that light up along the water.
The menu is packed with fresh, local ingredients, including fish that come straight out of the bay. Just as exciting are the desserts, which are made in-house, including coconut mousse with milk chocolate crisp.
+62 361 708333
Bay, Jimbaran, South Kuta, Badung Regency, Bali 80361, Indonesia
12. The Rock Restaurant In Pingwe, Zanzibar
There are waterfront restaurants, and then there are restaurants that are practically inside the water. The Rock Restaurant in Pingwe on the island of Zanzibar falls in the latter category. The building is a converted fisherman's post perched on a coral outcrop in the Indian Ocean, just a few feet from shore.
Unsurprisingly, the specialty here is fish. Lobster, king prawns, octopus, and calamari, along with other delights, are cooked on the grill. As for the view, you start enjoying it before you even get to the restaurant, which you can reach on foot from the beach at low tide, or by rowboat at high tide.
+255 776 591 360
Pingwe, Michamvi, Tanzania
13. Lung Keen Heen In Hong Kong
It's only natural that an island have good restaurants with beautiful views of the water. But the Four Seasons' Lung Keen Heen takes the cake with jaw-dropping views of the harbor and a stellar menu.
This restaurant earned three Michelin stars more than 10 years ago and is still holding onto them. Come see how they do that by booking a table for lunch, dim sum, or dinner. Don't be afraid to sample the seasonal recommendations, such as the marinated cucumber, black fungus, and lily bulbs with quinoa. These aren't the sort of ingredients that constitute your typical appetizer, but you're sure to fall in love with them.
+852 3196 88828
Finance St, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong
14. Aurelia At Castle Hill In Newport, Rhode Island
It can be surprisingly hard to find an excellent restaurant in Newport with a good view. The summer "cottages" of the Gilded Age take up most of the prime waterfront, and the rest of the space is occupied by touristy spots. Luckily, there is Aurelia at Castle Hill. It requires a bit of a drive out of town for the aforementioned reasons, but there's valet parking, so it's okay. Sit outside and let the breeze ruffle your hair a bit as you take in the sparkling bay. As for the food, everything on the menu is good, but be sure to indulge in the raw bar. Rhode Island knows its oysters.
590 Ocean Drive, Newport, RI 02840, United States
15. Rockhouse Restaurant In Negril, Jamaica
All the waterfront views in Jamaica are beautiful. For one to stand out, it has to be dramatic and gorgeous. That is the case with the Rockhouse Restaurant in Negril, which sits atop volcanic cliffs that tower over pristine blue waters.
The menu consists of Jamaican seafood, highlighted by dishes like roasted salmon with coconut curry sauce and the Rockhouse lobster, which is served in coconut milk with okra and sweet peppers. Enjoy the view of the sunset while you eat and look out over the edge once in a while to spot the fish swimming below.
W End Rd, Negril, Jamaica
16. Sierra Mar In Big Sur
Big Sur is famous for having some of the most stunning views on the West Coast. The Sierra Mar Restaurant takes advantage of this by setting up shop on the cliff side. This prime location allows diners to look out at the water and take in the region's gorgeous sunset.
It's also a prime location for food. The menu offers up some tasty morsels with bold flavors, like octopus with gochujang aioli and handmade cavatelli with fonduta and chili oil. What's more, these dishes are made with locally sourced ingredients. The wines, which encompass local and old-world bottles, are also not to be missed; they make up one of the largest wine selections on the continent.
47900 CA-1, Big Sur, CA 93920, United States
17. Holmen Lofoten In Sorvagen, Norway
The restaurant at the Holmen Lofoten is referred to as the kitchen on the edge of the world for good reason: Eating here really does feel like you've reached the outermost limits of civilization. But this is not the type of place you can just eat at on a whim -- you have to book the whole experience, which includes a four-night stay at the hotel and dinner seating at the chef's table every night.
It's worth it, though. These meals are made from the finest ingredients the surrounding lands and waters have to offer. A new guest chef arrives every few weeks, and dinners can be served in the restaurant or in the great outdoors. Either way, you get a front seat to dramatic Arctic views -- a major change from most vistas on this list.
+47 93 44 23 01
Flathaugen 36, 8392 Sørvågen, Norway
18. Nautika In Dubrovnik
The city of Dubrovnik is beautiful, historical, and a magnet for "Game of Thrones" enthusiasts (much of the show was filmed in its cobbled alleys). These elements have turned it into a major tourist hot spot. This means the place can easily get mobbed, especially in the summer months.
When you need a quiet moment, head to the Nautika restaurant. From here, you can enjoy beautiful views of the city without feeling crushed by hordes of people. You also get the chance to enjoy the high-class menu, which is packed with freshly-caught seafood. The slightly smoked tuna tartare is a particular highlight.
+385 20 442 526
Brsalje ul. 3, 20000, Dubrovnik, Croatia
19. 74 Restaurant In Búzios
Just outside Rio De Janeiro is a charming beach town called Búzios, which is home to 74 Restaurant. It's a great place to eat with beautiful views over the water, and it boasts chef Gonzalo Vidal. He's cooked around the world, from Japan to Europe, and has landed back in Brazil to bring his culinary expertise to this venture.
These global travels influence the cuisine, but it remains very much seafood-focused. Be sure to try the seaweed cone of tuna belly and sea urchin if you're lucky enough to find it on the menu when you go.
+55 22 2623-0303
R. Alto do Humaitá, 10 - Centro, Búzios - RJ, 28950-000, Brazil
20. Chila In Buenos Aires
At Chila, it's best to grab a spot by the window so you can look out across the Rio Darsena Sur and admire the lights in the ritzy district across the river. The food doesn't disappoint either. It's focused on Argentine ingredients, and is all the better for it.
The seven-course menu will take you on a journey through this lovely country. If you get lost, just check the map you're given, which contains the origins of the main ingredients used. Highlights include the spider crab with shiso and the kale and hazelnuts.
+54 11 4343 6067
Av. Alicia Moreau de Justo 1160, C1107 CABA, Argentina
21. The Farm At Cape Kidnappers In Te Awanga, New Zealand
You don't have to be anywhere near the water to get a stunning view in New Zealand; there are plenty of beautiful mountains and rolling pastures to look at just about everywhere. But The Farm at Cape Kidnappers in Te Awanga on the North Island offers more than "Lord of the Rings"-worthy views. Here you can look out over the hills that lead straight over a cliff into the Pacific Ocean and enjoy some seriously delectable food.
New Zealand is known for its fantastic lamb -- there are about five times as many sheep as there are people here -- and the kitchen at The Farm does it justice with every dish. Other prominent ingredients are sourced from the on-site farm, which ensures everything is fresh and vibrant.
+64 6 875 1900
446 Clifton Road, Te Awanga 4180, New Zealand
22. Wolfgat In Paternoster, South Africa
Table Mountain is not the only beautiful thing to look at in South Africa. The coastline, wine country, and inner territories each have plenty to offer the discerning eye. One such view can be found at Wolfgat in Paternoster, two hours north of Cape Town. Here, you can enjoy unspoiled beaches and pristine blue waters.
Despite the rugged surroundings, the food is upscale and innovative. On any given week, the menu may include hyperlocal ingredients like seaweed foraged from a nearby rock pool or seafood that came off one of the boats you might see being dragged onto the beach.
10 Sampson Street, Kliprug, Paternoster, 7381
Phone number N/A
23. Sol'ring Hof In Rantum, Germany
Rantum might not be the first place in Germany you think to visit as an outsider, but you should definitely stop by -- especially if it means dining at Sol'ring Hof. Located right on the dunes in the island's most luxurious hotel, this restaurant comes with one Michelin star and unhindered views of the North Sea.
The menu changes seasonally to give diners the best of what local ingredients provide. For instance, a winter menu may feature chestnuts with Perigord truffle or chicken with cranberries and mushrooms. It's all sure to be exceptional.
+49 4651 836200
Am Sandwall 1, 25980 Sylt, Germany
24. The Athenian House In Santorini, Greece
For an iconic experience of Santorini -- dinner looking out over the Aegean Sea amidst those stark white houses -- head to The Athenian House. You'll get your photo, though it'll hardly be able to capture just how beautiful the spot actually is. It's okay -- the food makes up for it. Signature Greek fare, such as a lamb moussaka with Santorini white eggplant, is at its best in this place. Since you're not likely to forget you're a stone's throw from the sea, indulge in plenty of seafood, such as the linguini with grilled shrimp.
+30 2286 036420
Unnamed Road, Imerovigli 847 00, Greece
This list was compiled from personal experience and a variety of articles from travel and food sites. The restaurants were chosen for their high quality, evinced by professional and online reviews. We also took the restaurants' scenic locations into meticulous account, and carefully considered the benefits of river, lake, harbor, and ocean views.
Read the original article on Tasting Table.