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10 Best Clam Shacks in New England

10 Best Clam Shacks in New England
9 votes, 4.22 avg. rating (83% score)

Summer in New England isn’t complete without enjoying some deep-fried seafood at a dine-in-the-rough clam shack. Food and travel writer Mike Urban, author of Clam Shacks: The Ultimate Guide to New England’s Most Fantastic Seafood Eateries (Cider Mill Press, 2011) has been noshing at and writing about these iconic eateries for years. Here are his picks for the 10 best clam shacks in New England.

The Clam Box in Ipswich, Massachusetts, specialize in deep-fried clams that never disappoint.

Photo/Art by Mike Urban
The Clam Box in Ipswich, Massachusetts, specialize in deep-fried clams that never disappoint.

The Clam Box This shack, located in a shingled building that resembles an open-topped clam box, is hands-down the best place for fried clams anywhere. Owner Marina “Chickie” Aggelakis personally selects all the clams from her suppliers’ trucks each morning. The chosen ones are “washed” in evaporated milk, coated with corn flour and white pastry flour, then twice-fried for perfect taste and texture. The Box changes its cooking oil twice daily, insuring an amazing deep-fried treat that never disappoints. Ipswich, MA. 978-356-9707; ipswichma.com/clambox

J. T. Farnham’s Seafood and Grill This modest roadhouse on Route 133 (also known as the “Clam Highway”) cooks its clams and other deep-fried seafood in a mixture of vegetable oil and animal fat, providing a major flavor boost to everything that comes out of the deep fryers. Also, be sure to try their “Best Seafood Chowder,” with its creamy, tomato-streaked broth that’s loaded with fresh clams, haddock, shrimp, sea scallops, and lobster. Essex, MA.  978-768-6643

The clams at The Clam Shack in Kennebunkport, Maine, are cooked and served in wonderfully crisp, chewy portions by the platter or the pint.

Photo/Art by Brenda Darroch
The clams at The Clam Shack in Kennebunkport, Maine, are cooked and served in wonderfully crisp, chewy portions by the platter or the pint.

The Clam Shack (Kennebunkport, ME) Perhaps best known for owner Steve Kingston’s award-winning lobster roll, this diminutive shack, teetering on the edge of the Kennebunk River, also serves up amazing fried clams. Other taste treats at the Shack include a flavorful clam chowder and a light, crispy fried haddock sandwich.  Kennebunkport, ME. 207-967-3321; theclamshack.net

Lenny and Joe’s Fish Tale This Connecticut shoreline institution, just up the road from Hammonasset Beach State Park, is a year-round seafood palace, serving up deep-fried platters of clams, scallops, shrimp, and wonderfully tasty scrod. Lighter fare in the form of grilled and broiled seafood and fresh, steamed lobster round out the menu. Their hot, buttered lobster roll is a shoreline classic. Madison, CT. 203-245-7289; ljfishtale.com

The fried clams at The Clam Shack in Falmouth, Massachusetts, are likely the best on Cape Cod.

Photo/Art by Mike Urban
The fried clams at The Clam Shack in Falmouth, Massachusetts, are likely the best on Cape Cod.

The Clam Shack (Falmouth, MA) This tiny, rough-hewn, wooden shack shares dock space with ferryboats shuttling fun seekers to and from Martha’s Vineyard. It’s only open three months each year, and there are maybe ten items on the menu. But the fried clams are likely the best on Cape Cod, due to the freshness of the clams and the love and care the father-and-son owners put into their preparation and cooking. Be sure to grab a picnic table out back to enjoy the comings and goings of the ferries and other boats in the harbor. Falmouth, MA. 508-540-7758

Woodman’s of Essex This is the place where, they say, the fried clam was invented nearly a hundred years ago. To many, Woodman’s is the gold standard for fried clams. The key to Woodman’s success and longevity in the deep fried clam world is the lard they use in their deep fryers. Founder Lawrence “Chubby” Woodman used it back in 1916, and lard is still used today. The clams are sweet, tender, and crunchy, and they come from local clam beds in Essex and Ipswich, considered by many to be the best in the world. Don’t miss the batter-fried onion rings or the deep-fried lobster tail. Essex, MA. 978-768-6057; woodmans.com

Five Islands Lobster Company This famous lobster place doubles as a clam shack, with its succulent fried clams and other deep-fried seafood. Try the locally sourced sea scallops and fried haddock sandwich. Also popular are the “Somewhat Famous” crab-cake sandwich and the grilled burger. Five Islands Lobster is situated on a large, wooden town dock overlooking lovely Sheepscot Bay and is serviced by numerous local fishing boats, so the seafood here is as fresh as can be. Georgetown, ME. 207-371-2990; fiveislandslobster.com

Evelyn's Drive-in in Tiverton, Rhode Island, serves their seafood up with side of serenity.

Photo/Art by Mike Urban
Evelyn’s Drive-in in Tiverton, Rhode Island, serves their seafood up with side of serenity.

Evelyn’s Drive-In Serenity reigns at this clam shack nestled on the shores of Nanaquaket Pond in eastern Rhode Island. There’s a sign by the kitchen that reads: If You’re in a Hurry, You’re in the Wrong Place. Owners Jane and Domenic Bitto delight their customers with deep-fried seafood, excellent clear-broth clam chowder, light, fluffy clam cakes, and exotic lobster chow mein. Be sure to catch a sunset from the back patio while sipping a Newport Storm beer, glass of wine, or cocktail. Tiverton, RI. 401-624-3100; evelynsdrivein.com

Cobie’s Clam Shack In the tony Cape Cod town of Brewster, there are several fine clam shacks, and Cobie’s is at the top of that list. Housed in a tastefully whitewashed shack at a bend in Route 6A, this place has heavenly fried clams, juicy burgers, thick milk shakes, and a great cold lobster roll made with knuckle meat only. The ice cream stand, with more than 30 flavors of hard and soft ice cream, makes for a great dessert or mid-afternoon snack spot. Brewster, MA. 508-896-7021; cobies.com

Markey’s Lobster Pool One of two large seafood emporiums located at the gateway to Seabrook’s public beaches (the other is Brown’s, across the street), Markey’s is a rollicking, fun place with a large covered deck out back that hangs over the tidal Blackwater River. Owner Tom Markey presides over the deep fryers, and he cooks up some excellent clams, scallops, haddock, shrimp, and fried lobster. There’s also a monstrous fried seafood platter topped with two fried lobster tails. Seabrook, NH. 603-474-2851; markeyslobsterpool.com

Do you agree with Mike’s picks for best clam shacks? Let us know if you do or whether there are some he may have missed.

Mike Urban

Author:

Mike Urban

Biography:

Mike Urban is a food and travel writer, book editor and packager, and former vice president and associate publisher of the Globe Pequot Press. He has written three books on New England: Clam Shacks: The Ultimate Guide to New England’s Most Fantastic Seafood Eateries; Lobster Shacks: A Road-Trip Guide to New England’s Best Lobster Joints; and The New England Diner Cookbook: Classic and Creative Recipes from the Finest Roadside Eateries. Mike lives in Old Saybrook, Connecticut, with his wife, Ellen, and their four children.
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71 Responses to 10 Best Clam Shacks in New England

  1. Les Elder June 10, 2014 at 7:24 am #

    You forgot one of the Best if New England, Bob’s Clam Hut, Rt 1, Kittery Maine.

    • Pauline Bautista June 10, 2014 at 8:27 am #

      I agree, Les…Bob’s Clam Hut in Kittery is definitely one of the best of New England!!!

    • Anthony June 11, 2014 at 11:44 am #

      Yes, indeed! Bob’s is the best, although they recently lost the best reason of all for going there and enjoying a half and half plate… she will be missed by all who knew her, and going there will never seem the same without her smile to greet you.

      • Mary McGann June 11, 2014 at 1:47 pm #

        I agree Bob’s in Kittery is a great clam shack!

    • Wayne June 15, 2014 at 1:04 am #

      Has anyone been to Altonbay? Pop’s Clam Shell has been crankin’ out wicked pissa clams for almost like forever. A must stop every time I roll into the shire,lol. New Hampshire that is. As like most places it can be pricey, but the portions are most generous

    • Betty SS June 15, 2014 at 6:54 am #

      Our first stop going into Maine from N Carolina ! Delicious ! Great service !

    • MaryJo June 18, 2014 at 9:21 am #

      Bob’s is really good!

  2. Cori P3 June 10, 2014 at 7:32 am #

    Too bad Flo’s in Middletown, RI didn’t make the list. :( :(

    • Chris June 10, 2014 at 1:04 pm #

      The ORIGINAL Flo’s in Portsmouth, RI is better still. Though I’m kinda disappointed they replaced their trademark painted rocks with glow-and-vibrate lobster. Way too Applebee’s for me.

  3. Chris Hall June 10, 2014 at 8:14 am #

    Can’t believe you missed the best one of all the legendary Dube’s on Jefferson Ave Salem, puts the others to shame….light and no grease

    • mackytack June 11, 2014 at 6:27 pm #

      dube’s is good, but doesn’t hold a candle to clam box!!!

    • mackytack June 11, 2014 at 6:30 pm #

      Woodman’s is SOOOOOOOOOOOOOO overrated!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Been there a handful of times to give it another chance…all set with that! Way too greasy, and just bland.
      Clam box, hands down, absolute best!

      • Lnichols June 15, 2014 at 3:20 pm #

        you can’t beat Woodmans Fried lobster..and clams, I have to disagree! Love Lenny and Joes too!

  4. Chris Hall June 10, 2014 at 8:15 am #

    Can’t believe you missed the best one of all Dube’s on Jefferson Ave Salem

    • Betty June 14, 2014 at 5:50 pm #

      Definitely Dubes!!!!! They are the best!

  5. Kin June 10, 2014 at 8:36 am #

    ewwww. They are ALL disgusting.

  6. Nancy June 10, 2014 at 8:39 am #

    Kreme and Kone……best on Cape Cod …..West Dennis

    • Nancy T June 15, 2014 at 12:23 pm #

      I totally agree with Kreme and Kone. The very best!

  7. Keith Gonsalves June 10, 2014 at 10:36 am #

    Blounts clam shack two locations in Rhode Island, Riverside at a historic carousel with a park and beach across the street the best white chowder and a full range of seafood including a fish ruben, and Warren on the water with the same great food great and a wonderful New England location on the working water front of a small town.

  8. Robbin June 10, 2014 at 11:00 am #

    You only forgot one of the best, Essex Seafood!!!!!! Just as good as Woodman’s, if not better!!!!

    • Rene' June 10, 2014 at 12:37 pm #

      Yes! How could one skip Essex Seafood? Farnhams used to be great but heaven knows what the new recipe is for batter and deep at. Ick. LOVE Essex Seafood!

      • Nature June 11, 2014 at 12:52 am #

        yup Essex Seafood the best.

    • Marylee Marsh June 11, 2014 at 10:22 am #

      Absolutely! Essex Seafood is excellent!

  9. Andrea June 10, 2014 at 11:27 am #

    How about Ubertis on Ferry Blvd. Stratford,Ct. ? Every thing so good, and, a fresh seafood store right in
    the same place !
    To take your order, & sit down at Bonds’ Dock is heaven.

  10. Miquel June 10, 2014 at 11:43 am #

    I agree with Robbin, Essex Seafood! We were there again on Saturday, huge pile of light and crispy clams. BYOB too….shhhhhh! When in ME, Gurnet Trading Co. in Brunswick, you wont find fresher clams…typically dug that morning!

  11. Paula McGill June 10, 2014 at 12:15 pm #

    I would add an old favorite, Aunt Carrie’s in Narragansett, RI.

  12. Sea June 10, 2014 at 1:30 pm #

    My favorite has always been Champlin’s in Narrangansett, RI.

  13. LobstahLovah49 June 10, 2014 at 4:01 pm #

    Disagree. Where’s Becky’s Dinah in Portland?! What about clam chowder?

  14. Sheila Louise Chapman June 10, 2014 at 6:33 pm #

    The best clams in all of New England are the ones at Bob’s Clam Hut… Route 1 Kittery, Maine… It has been opened since 1956…

  15. Julie R June 10, 2014 at 7:51 pm #

    I am like Brown’s better than Markeys, they are better in my opinon

    • Peter Goodspeed June 14, 2014 at 2:01 pm #

      I agree. Browns is the best been going there once 1960

    • MaryJo June 18, 2014 at 9:23 am #

      Brown’s is so much better! The only place for locals and visitors

  16. Bob June 10, 2014 at 8:12 pm #

    Ronnies in Auburn in Mass and Creme & Kone on rt 6 in Dennisport are de best!

  17. Paula Cunha June 10, 2014 at 8:28 pm #

    I am sorry to say but I disagree with Evelyns I thought the fried clams were just awful I do not know how they made the list even the clam chowder and clamcakes were terrible…

    • Deane C June 11, 2014 at 12:59 pm #

      Agree, the fish and chips I’ve had there were overcooked, tried many times, always too well done.

  18. David Jones June 10, 2014 at 10:08 pm #

    Best is Silver Ranch, Jaffrey NH

  19. Carrie Martin June 10, 2014 at 10:20 pm #

    These are our favorites:

    Two Little Fish on Atlantic Ave in Westerly, RI
    Pete’s Seafood in Greenfield, MA
    Ocean Harvest, Keene, NH

    • ChrisB. June 11, 2014 at 4:05 pm #

      I second the vote for Two Little Fish in Westerly!

  20. kim June 10, 2014 at 10:51 pm #

    I don’t agree with Woodman’s or Markey’s they used to be so good but the last summer I ate at Woodman’s twice and both times I got sick(Fried Clams the first time and Lobster the second time) Same as Markey’s I ate there 3 times last year and I got sick, went back again this year only a few weeks ago and got very sick!!! I ate at the Clam box several times and nothing as well as Bell Isle nothing happened! Dube’s in Salem is great as well as I thinks it’s Bob’s in Kittery!! Bon Appetite!!!

    • Rich June 11, 2014 at 4:03 pm #

      Sounds like you have a stomach issue. Woodmans is more atmosphere but still great food.

  21. Karyn June 11, 2014 at 1:05 am #

    Jake’s Seafood
    Wells, ME

    • Suznmy June 14, 2014 at 8:07 am #

      Jake’s without a doubt.

  22. Gary Smith June 11, 2014 at 6:43 am #

    You certainly forgot one of the best, Reds Eats on Main Street, just before the bridge in Wiscasset, Maine. When you talk about Fried Clams always think Maine, all others are 2nd best.

    • Katie Goodell June 11, 2014 at 10:07 am #

      yum! Reds eats! THats like the best in Maine!
      Also Teds Fried Clams in Acton Maine!

  23. Barry N June 11, 2014 at 7:00 am #

    A good list for people “from away.” But filled with the usual suspects, many well-deserved. Add to this list Mike’s Stand/Geary Bros in Putnam,CT. Not an obvious choice or a tourist trap, but those who know about it enjoy excellent fried seafood, simply and freshly prepared.

  24. John Hall June 11, 2014 at 8:24 am #

    You missed The Red Barn, Augusta, ME.

  25. Ruth June 11, 2014 at 8:26 am #

    Liam’s at Nauset Beach in Orleans!!! GREAT clams and you can eat them right on the beach. Does not get better than that!

  26. Madeline thomas June 11, 2014 at 10:35 am #

    My all time favorite not listed on Thames river Fred shanntys,,,awesome!

  27. Deb June 11, 2014 at 1:23 pm #

    You have to try Barlow’s Clam Shack in Bourne, MA. Right across from the Cape Cod Canal. THE BEST Fried Clams, Lobster Rolls and Onion Rings !!!!!

  28. Ed Gaibl June 11, 2014 at 3:03 pm #

    The Red Wing Diner on Rte. 1, Walpole, Ma., excellent also.

    • Bob June 14, 2014 at 10:41 am #

      I went to the Red Wing a year ago specifically for the clams and was hugely disappointed. The place was cramped and noisy, and the clams were overcooked.

  29. sea clam June 11, 2014 at 7:16 pm #

    Your all wrong . I make the best fried clam . Born and raised on the north shore . . Dig my own and cook my own … PRICELESS

  30. Debbie Nelson June 11, 2014 at 8:12 pm #

    Lena’s in Salisbury, MA is excellent. Batter fried, all nice and puffy. Check it out.

  31. Dan Cooney June 12, 2014 at 9:40 am #

    Great piece Yankee! Oxford Creamery, Mattapoisett, MA Kool Kone, Wareham, MA

  32. Java June 12, 2014 at 9:44 pm #

    You’re missing Kelly’s Roast Beef on Revere Beach, 5 miles from Logan Airport, ! BEST Fried Clams and Lobster Rolls in New England ! Roast Beef sandwiches make a great Surf & Turf Combo !!!

  33. Janet-Lee June 14, 2014 at 10:41 am #

    Al’s Seafood in North Hampton, NH Hands down better than anywhere in the northeast.

  34. Joanie June 14, 2014 at 3:52 pm #

    U forgot Cookes Seafood !!!!

  35. Kate June 14, 2014 at 4:19 pm #

    Arnold’s in Eastham,Park Lunch in Amesbury

  36. Richie June 14, 2014 at 5:58 pm #

    The Causeway in Glouster

  37. Richie June 14, 2014 at 6:00 pm #

    Great fried clams and great fish chowder

  38. Cheryl June 14, 2014 at 11:07 pm #

    Hands down…#1 is the Clam Box in Ipswich..#2 Blue Marlin in Essex…and you can toss out Farnham’s altogether.

  39. Pritch June 15, 2014 at 12:24 pm #

    You have to include the Clam Box on Wollaston Beach in Quincy, MA…which is also the site of the original Howard Johnson’s stand.

  40. Rebecca lefebvre June 15, 2014 at 12:37 pm #

    I think they forgot about hanks dairy bar! Best seafood shack around !!! It’s in Plainfield ct

  41. David Goldstein June 15, 2014 at 1:34 pm #

    I gotta agree with Dube’s. Deep fried awesomeness and the nicest waitstaff I’ve ever encountered.

  42. David Goldstein June 15, 2014 at 1:36 pm #

    Fisherman’s Catch in Wells, Maine has clams and lobsta that are as good or better than anyone’s. Just sayin.

  43. Sherri Q June 16, 2014 at 12:39 pm #

    Been to Evelyn’s in RI and I didn’t think they were that great. I can’t believe that Horton’s in East Providence didn’t make this list, though. They have won the Providence Phoenix’s “Best of Rhode Island” many times over. My husband and I have been dining there almost weekly (Spring through Fall) for the past 15 or so years. No water view; in fact, not much of a view at all, but hands down one of the best places for fried clams I’ve ever been to. We used to travel to Plymouth to go to Sousa’s (now closed I think) until we found Horton’s.

  44. Maureen June 18, 2014 at 9:01 am #

    I have to say he missed Bob’s Clam Hut in Kittery, Maine! It’s wonderful and open year round. The staff/family is not only pleasant, professional but treat you like family when you’re there! They have amazing food, service and atmosphere! You need to add them to the list! It’s a crime not to have them on the list!

  45. Wendy June 18, 2014 at 9:18 am #

    Seafood Haven in Westerly RI is my absolute favorite!

  46. ct coast June 18, 2014 at 1:56 pm #

    Dad’s in Niantic CT use to be one of the best! It’s been a few years since I’ve been there and I know ownership has changed… but MAN – I still dream about those whole bellies and onion rings!

  47. Judi June 18, 2014 at 5:00 pm #

    Essex Seafood, Clambox, Woodman’a (gluten-free) and Dube’s. If you’re out late at night, then Kelly’so on Revere Beach.

  48. Steve August 1, 2014 at 10:48 am #

    Woodman’s has definitely gone downhill over the past few years. Soggy clams more often than not. There was a group of about 6 of us, and afterwards every one of us was in agreement that Woodman’s just wasn’t that good anymore. Since then, we always go to JT Farnham’s now. JT Farnham’s has been perfect every time we go there! The clams are sweet and crisp, and the onion rings are great too.

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