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Top 10 Local Restaurants on Maryland’s Beaches and Beyond

In this part of the country along Maryland's beaches and beyond, seasonal seafood is always a favorite. Many of the local restaurants in Worcester County make seafood their specialty, naturally. A paradise for food connoisseurs, this area of Maryland is known for its abundance of crab and the recipes that highlight the ingredient, though it's certainly not the only menu item that keeps foodies coming back to Worcester County's waterfront restaurants and Zagat-rated seafood shacks year after year.

photoHere's a guide to some of top local restaurants on Maryland's beaches and beyond, especially if you love seafood.

1. The Shark, Ocean City
Located off Sunset Avenue in Ocean City, The Shark is a waterfront restaurant featuring local and fresh seafood with organic ingredients. This is one of those Instagram-worthy restaurants from the outside with its Cape Cod cottage-style architecture and its fantastic location overlooking the harbor. Inside, The Shark is a lounge kind of place with television playing sports events, heavy wooden bar tables and indoor patio lights that create a laidback effect. The Shark recently made a list of one of the "œ15 restaurants in Maryland that will blow the taste buds right out of your mouth. We're not sure about all that, but menu items like crusted grilled mako, tilefish with gnocchi, and crab cake sandwiches never disappoint. The Shark also serves Sunday brunch with items like avocado crab toast with a watermelon radish and lobster biscuits and gravy. The menu changes seasonally to reflect what's fresh, especially in terms of seafood.

2. Liquid Assets, Ocean City
Hailed by The Culture Trip as one of the best restaurants in Ocean City, Liquid Assets is a hip joint for guests to lounge while enjoying delicious seafood and baked goods. Diners will find several couches, cushioned chairs and small tables throughout the restaurant, giving Liquid Assets a coffee-house vibe. A large bar sits in the middle of the restaurant, and an impressive collection of wines line some the restaurant's walls. Diners can choose from a wide range of dishes like the Big Bay Oyster Po Boy Sandwich, a 16-ounce Certified Angus New York Strip, and the desirable Wagyu Burger (highest quality beef known to man). Save room for dessert -- specifically the incredibly tall Smith Island Cake or the ice cream sandwich (where two sugared doughnuts subsist for the cookie exterior).

3. Fins Ale House and Raw Bar, Berlin
Berlin's newest addition is Fins Ale House and Raw Bar, offering fresh seafood with a wide variety of oysters, clams and mussels, all paired with an evolving list of custom-crafted beers. Fins Ale House opened in October 2016 in Berlin, "America's Coolest Small Town." It's the third Fins location; the owner's other two locations are in Rehoboth Beach. The concept is unique: The restaurant offers a special selection of fish and oysters each night, which can be prepared with specialized sauces customized to diner preferences. In addition, regular menu items include lobster and crab avocado salad, crab cake sandwich and shrimp and grits.

4. Blacksmith Bar and Restaurant, Berlin
Blacksmith Bar and Restaurant is one of those independent eateries you want to find when exploring small towns along the Maryland coast. Chef-owned, Blacksmith sources local ingredients to craft a menu of handmade, innovative and flavorful food and drinks. Some local faves include the crab bisque, fried oysters, soft shell crab BLT, and shrimp and grits. Everything here is fun and fresh, including the drink menu that features cocktails like a cucumber gin and tonic.

5. Hooked, Ocean City
The tagline for Hooked in Ocean City has three words, and three words only: fresh, honest and local. That perfectly describes the restaurant, from the food dit serves to the way it's designed. Inside, photographs of the local landscapes hang on light-blue walls, and the menu is an extensive list of some of the freshest local catches you can imagine like mussels, clams, lobster and more. Hooked features daily specials (for example, 50 percent off bottles of wine on ladies night). The restaurant operates on a first-come, first-served basis and no reservations are accepted.

6. Sello's Italian Oven & Bar, Ocean City
Real Italian fare in the western part of Ocean City can be found at Sello's. Inside there's a fun and funky vibe, a decorative Vespa on display and an indoor herb garden, for example. The menu consisted of elevated Italian classics like veal chop topped with pancetta brown butter lemon over spinach-garlic and tortolloni di manzo, which is beef-filled pockets of pasta tossed in a sauteed spinach, truffle oil and parmigiano cream sauce. For pizza lovers, there are plenty of pies to choose from with flavors like Capricciosa (plum tomatoes, wild mushrooms, peas, prosciutto and mozzarella) and Giuliano (margherita-style pizza topped with french fries parmigiano). This is the kind of place where the owner is there most nights to make sure guests are satisfied, a true beacon of superb customer service.

7. Mother's Cantina, Ocean City
Enjoy Worcester County's freshest seafood with Mexican influences at Mother's Cantina. Located just two blocks from the beach, Mother's is the place to go for fish tacos, Maryland crab quesadillas and spicy crab soup. The decor of colorful Mexican banners and tortilla-yellow walls matches perfectly with the laid-back and hip vibe of Mother's Cantina, which features a tequila bar. The restaurant has daily specials and happy hours with discounted beers, $2 tacos Tuesdays and more -- including margaritas.

8. Longboards, Ocean City
Longboards is a beach bar, yes, but it also serves killer seafood. Situated in a large white cottage just two blocks from the ocean where long surf boards grace the walls. Longboards serves delicious seasonal dishes like hearty tuna and crab tower salads, blackened swordfish, and the Longboard burger with spicy-sweet bacon. It serves local craft beers and imported wine, and on Sunday mornings, Longboard offers a specialized brunch menu featuring steak and eggs as well as shrimp and grits.

9. Barn 34, Ocean City
Barn 34 definitely doesn't feel like a barn, even though it's located inside a renovated one. It's designed like a pirate ship, with an interior of arched wooden walls and ceilings, pirate memorabilia and a spirits bar. It's a popular spot for locals to enjoy good food, play ping pong, and hang out at the rum bar. Bar 34 opens for breakfast, lunch and dinner and serves Maryland-inspired cuisine like crab eggs benedicts, Chesapeake fillet, and shrimp fredo florentine. Diners can also try something fun from the menu, like the Cap n' Crunch french toast.

10. OC Wasabi, Ocean City
Sushi lovers will want to check out OC Wasabi for the freshest cuts of sashimi and tuna carpaccio in Worcester County. The restaurant features daily lunch specials and guests can sample a wide variety of Japanese, Vietnamese and Korean dishes like seafood teriyaki, octopus and seaweed salad, and of course, sushi. The establishment is community-inspired and displays local artwork on its walls along with Japanese lanterns and an aquarium. Diners in a hurry can head two blocks south to OC Wasabi Express and order sushi to go or walk in to receive quick din-in service.

For more of Worcester County's top seafood spots, check here. For more details on all of the county's local restaurants, go here.

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