The iconic Harrision’s Harbor Watch at the end of the Ocean City, Maryland boardwalk has been awarded not one but two Best of Ocean City® awards this year- The Best Sit Down Restaurant and The Best Raw Bar.
Two Times the Charm
It’s extremely special when a restaurant wins a Best Of Ocean City® Award. However, it is an honor when a restaurant is able to claim two of the top awards in one year. And that’s exactly what happened for Harrison’s Harbor Watch. Vacationers and locals alike see the charm in the two story restaurant that overlooks the infamous OC Inlet. With a sunset view overlooking Assateague Island, an award winning raw bar with famous oyster stew, and the aesthetics of an old school fishing town, it’s clear that Harrision’s earned it.
From Fruit to Fruition
The Harrison Family did not have a background in seafood or fishing like one might think. Patriarch, Joseph Harrison had an idea to begin profiting from peaches back in the late 1800’s. A hobby close to his heart, Joseph started a small business growing and selling peaches in the exact location of Stephen Decatur Middle and High Schools. The family business turned a quick profit and even expanded their business into shrubbery. However after over 70 years in business, proprietor Joseph passed away and the business declined and ultimately closed. But! That’s not where the Harrison story ends.
Fast Forward 100 Years
In 1984 sons, Hale and John, decided on yet another family business this time focusing on seafood. And not just any seafood. Seafood that was right off the boat, the freshest you could get, day caught seafood! Harrison’s Harbor Watch is perched at the south end of the Ocean City, Maryland boardwalk keeping a close eye on fishermen and their boats as they venture in and out of the inlet. Its two story, wide open ceilings, and fisherman village decor take you back in time.
Best Sit Down Restaurant
It’s obvious why Harrison’s won Best of Ocean City Sit Down Restaurant. The view alone is award winning. However the unique style of decor, from the old fishermen hanging lights, and fresh seafood signs are spectacular. And can we talk about the secret wall to wall mural of a fishing boat bringing in fresh seafood to the market?! The remarkably intricately painted painting created by Kathy Denk and Pamela D’Aleo is a must see on the second floor of the restaurant. You can smell the salt air coming from the dock as you take in every tiny stroke of the brush.
Best Raw Bar
Ok- Let’s talk raw bar. As you walk into the restaurant, to your right you will come across an almost pit like area with a white tiled counter, low seating, and the best view in the house. And no I’m not talking about the inlet. The raw bar is unmatched! As I was there, 15 year veteran bartender, Alex, made not only the freshest steamed shrimp- right in front of me! And that’s not all! She also stirred up some of Harrision’s famous oyster stew- again right in front of me! Harrison’s raw bar has a specially made steaming/cooking system that was created just for the space, which can be tight at times. However with this specifically made pan and steaming system, the oyster stew came out to perfection- like always. “You’ll never be able to make oyster stew like ours because of the set up we have here at the raw bar. Believe me, I’ve tried,” Alex told us. Its unique system has two pots for steaming and one pan for making stew with a self-fanning system that runs all day.
Seafood, Seafood, and More Seafood
When asked what the staff recommends as far as food- manager Randy comments that “Mr Harrison’s Rockfish is always a top choice.” Blackened rockfish topped with crab imperial alongside a fresh oyster shooter sounds like a delicious meal. Other recommendations were the bacon wrapped scallops and steamed shrimp. And we can’t go to Harrison’s without talking about oysters. When I ordered a top notch oyster shooter, without skipping a beat, hoisted a large what looked like a 40 pound basket of fresh off the boat oysters. She quickly got to work throwing on a thick glove (safety first) and grabbed her shucking knife. And within a minute the salty, briny, spicy concoction loaded with cocktail sauce and hot pepper infused vodka was delivered. Yum.
Harrison’s Harbor Watch appears in local author Katherine Ruskey’s novel, Marlin Week, based on the White Marlin Open. The restaurant serves as a backdrop where two characters learn of some very exciting news in their lives. Now that’s exciting!
Coast Guard Station
If you and your family of 4 or smaller (sorry to the larger families), would like an extremely special seat in Harrison’s Harbour Watch, ask to sit in “the coast guard station.” You will not be disappointed- I promise!
The Final Countdown
Next year, Harrison’s will be celebrating their 40th anniversary. With some exciting things in place and a year to plan, we can’t wait to see what another celebratory year brings for Harrison’s Harbor Watch.