If you just know Bridgeport, Connecticut, from the smokestacks you see from I-95, I have two tips for you while warm weather still invites outdoor waterfront dining.
A cross between a huge seafood shack and a fabulous independent boutique shopping destination, Captain’s Cove is tucked away in an industrial area that you’d never find if you weren’t looking for it.
Believe your GPS when it takes you past warehouses, auto shops, and empty lots locked up behind chain link fences. Pull into the parking lot and walk past colorful wooden shacks where local artists and businesses sell jewelry, candy, clothing, and other handcrafted items you probably didn’t know you needed.
Past the boutiques, there’s a large waterfront indoor-outdoor dining establishment. Go inside and grab a seat, or place your order for pick up and plop yourself down at an outside table that’s first-come, first served. We bought ourselves drinks at the bar but a waitress came around after a time and was happy to be the conduit between the bar and our table.The crowd was a real mix of ages and the food was as expected – well-executed deep-fried seafood, burgers, and fries, at decent prices.
This spot is related to my book Secret Connecticut in that housed here is the replica of Gustave Whitehead’s plane that he flew two years before the Wright Brothers claimed the first flight. It’s in a covered warehouse that’s marked but the plane is not visible.
I’m a sucker for a dozen oysters overlooking the water at least near where they were harvested. Opened in 2019, Boca Oyster Bar does not disappoint in that regard.
In sight of the Bridgeport-Port Jefferson Ferry Terminal, Boca is another Bridgeport waterfront establishment that does not make itself readily visible. It would help if you knew you were looking for a large brick mixed-use building at the end of an even larger parking lot.
Walk in and the views open to well-spaced tables inside with glass walls, and outside on the patio with views of the harbor, a marina, the ferry terminal, and the highway in the distance.
The Bluepoint oysters from Long Island Sound were fresh, swimming in liquor, and served with a delightful, light mignonette. I added their clam chowder to my list of favorites due to its thick but not floury texture, chunks of potatoes and clams, and layered flavors. I usually prefer chowders with bacon but this one was able to achieve flavor robustness without bacon. The fish tacos were tasty but I would not recommend the lobster roll. It was bland, all around boring, and completely unmemorable as was the lobster Cobb salad.
Boca is definitely more upscale than Captain’s Cove; I saw more office workers here versus families at the Cove. A tip: Arrive early. We didn’t have reservation but arrived at 11:45am for lunch and got a fantastic table. The restaurant filled up by around 12:30. Boca is a part of the Steelpointe Harbor development.