CHICAGO -- More than half of consumers eat seafood at least weekly, according to Technomic’s Center of the Plate: Seafood & Vegetarian Consumer Trend Report, and 63% are being driven to eat more seafood for health reasons.
In addition to identifying this spike in seafood consumption, Technomic identified consumers' top seafood chains out of the leading brands surveyed for Technomic’s Consumer Brand Metrics, powered by Ignite. The chains are ranked from 10th to first, in order of the percentage of recent diners who say that brand’s seafood (including sushi) is craveworthy and one of a kind.
Click through to uncover what seafood lovers find most craveable in the restaurant space and why—from unique batters and global flavors to more value-minded attributes such as price and portion size ...
10. Pei Wei Asian Diner
Just over one-sixth of recent customers say they can’t get their Pei Wei seafood fix anywhere else. Shrimp is the sole seafood option among the customizable rice bowls, although the fast-casual chain also menus a spicy Polynesian poke bowl, ahi tuna avocado salad and numerous hand-rolled sushi options. Numerous respondents also point to the crab wontons appetizer as craveworthy, with mentions such as, “I love the flavor of their crab wontons” and “Their version of crab wontons is the best.”
9. P.F. Chang's China Bistro
Seafood at P.F. Chang’s is a craveable menu feature that almost one-fifth of recent customers say they can only get there. Like Pei Wei, items skew Asian, with features such as red curry and shrimp, Szechuan chili sauce and shrimp and miso-glazed salmon as menu highlights. Dynamite shrimp, crispy honey shrimp, walnut shrimp with melon, Chilean sea bass and calamari are all mentioned as craveable in the consumers' verbatim responses. The casual-dining chain markets its seafood as responsibly sourced on the menu.
More than one in five consumers say that seafood at Sizzler is a craveable feature they can only get at that brand. In addition to grilled salmon, crab salad and a teriyaki salmon skewer, the quick-service chain also offers shrimp in multiple varieties: shrimp scampi linguine, ultimate shrimp trio, jumbo crispy shrimp and shrimp skewers; the latter two are the seafood items that most folks call out in their responses. The fact that the shrimp is “endless” or “all you can eat” is also a top craveworthy callout.
7. Bahama Breeze Island Grille
More than a third of recent customers say they can’t get their Bahama Breeze seafood fix anywhere else. The seafood items are among some of the top callouts among all the craveable menu items. One respondent simply said, “A lot of the seafood items looked great.” Mentions of conch fritters were abundant, with one respondent mentioning that they are “very hard to find anywhere else.” Other mentions include the crab-stack appetizer, seafood chowder, ahi tuna, lobster and shrimp quesadilla, coconut shrimp (another top callout), fish tacos, firecracker shrimp, seafood paella and grilled salmon. Many folks also list “Caribbean-inspired foods” and “Island taste and flavors” as being craveworthy facets of the contemporary casual-dining chain’s menu.
Just more than half of recent customers find seafood craveworthy at Rubio’s. The fast-casual chain’s signature fish tacos—launched in 1983 and featuring Alaskan pollock—received the greatest hits in the responses. One commenter stated, “The fish tacos are superb and hard to find with the same flavor.” Other seafood items that also received mentions: blackened salmon, mahi mahi, shrimp and langostino lobster, which are available in tacos, burritos or bowls.
5. Long John Silver's
Almost 57% of recent customers say they crave the seafood at Long John Silver’s quick-service restaurants. Fried fish is the top callout in the responses. Some folks specifically point to the breading of the fish, with one commenter stating, “I love the batter that the fish is coated in above anything else. It is very unique to LJS,” and another mentioning, “They have a unique batter on their fried food.” Fried shrimp, fried clams and crab cakes are also mentioned, as well as the many combo offers.
4. Red Lobster
The No. 1 seafood chain by sales ranks fourth on the list of the most craved chain seafood restaurants. The chain’s eponymous lobster is a chief callout, but the unlimited shrimp and combination seafood dishes are also top mentions, as well as the plethora of fish and seafood options. In fact, variety is a main component of craveability for respondents, with callouts such as “Seafood variety choices” and “Variety of seafood” among the many mentions.
3. Captain D's Seafood Kitchen
Almost two in three recent customers crave Captain D’s seafood and say they can’t get it anywhere else. The quick-service chain offers everything from fried fish to shrimp and Alaskan salmon. But in addition to the specific seafood callouts, many respondents point to pricing and portion sizing as the craveable facet of Captain D’s seafood options. Responses include, “Big portion size fish for the price,” “Seafood for the price,” and “with a reasonable price.” The average check at Captain D’s is $7.05, which is less than the other QSRs on this list: Long John Silver’s is $8.30, and Sizzler’s is $13.60.
2. Bonefish Grill
Seven out of 10 recent customers say that Bonefish Grill serves up mouthwatering seafood they can’t get anywhere else. Its Bang Bang Shrimp has by far the greatest number of callouts. The appetizer, which features crispy shrimp tossed in a creamy, spicy sauce, is so popular that it has its own section on the casual-dining chain’s digital menu dubbed “The Story Behind Bang Bang Shrimp.” In it, the chain explains that the item was originally a special but due to popular demand, it’s made a “forever home on our menu.” Beyond the shrimp, other mentions include Chilean sea bass, pecan trout, ceviche, calamari, Thai coconut shrimp, mussels Josephine and grilled salmon.
1. Joe's Crab Shack
Almost three-quarters of recent customers say they can’t get their Joe’s Crab Shack seafood fix anywhere else, which places the casual-dining chain as the most craveable chain for seafood by consumers. The chain’s eponymous crab is a top callout. It menus numerous crab varieties, including snow, Dungeness, queen, king and feasts that feature many of the aforementioned together. However, the fact that the chain serves much of its food out of nontraditional dishware is also a key factor in craveability for many. Callouts include: “Their delicious crab buckets,” “Eating with bibs and out of metal buckets” and “Steampots.”