10 Best Clam Shacks in New England
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 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 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 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