The 10 best New England clam shacks
Woodman’s of Essex
The alleged innovator of the fried clam, Woodman’s of Essex has been serving fried seafood in heaping portions for over 100 years. If you don’t mind a wait caused by busloads of tourists, Woodman’s will certainly deliver your fried clam fix. Visit in the offseason to avoid the killer crowds. 121 Main St., Essex, MA.
Bob’s Clam Hut
Not much has changed at Bob’s since the ‘50s, and that’s a good a thing. This Kittery, Maine destination slings delicious fried clams with two different dredges as well as other New England seafood classics. Make a point to stop here on your next drive through Maine. 315 US-1, Kittery, ME.
Housed in the same unique building (perhaps meant to look like a takeout box?) for over 80 years, Clam Box is the absolute best fried clam purveyor in Massachusetts, according to some local clam connoisseurs. They make a point to change their frying oil twice daily, which lends the clams a superior, fresh taste. 246 High St, Ipswich, MA.
Sea Swirl, in historic downtown Mystic, has been serving up fantastic fried seafood alongside soft serve ice cream for over 25 years. Enjoy a world class hot dog, Rhode Island clam chowder, or clam fritters while watching the sunset over the flood tide of the Mystic River. 30 Williams Ave., Mystic, CT.
This critically acclaimed chowder house, with two locations in Rhode Island, serves up great seafood & deep-fried dough. Iggy’s products are so beloved, they launched a product line of mixes for doughboys, clam fritters, and more, so people could achieve the classic “Iggy’s” taste at home. Local Rhode Islanders say their clam fritters are by far the best the state has to offer. 889 Oakland Beach Ave, Warwick, RI; 1151 Point Judith Rd, Narragansett, RI.
Lenny & Joe’s Fish Tale
Open year round, Lenny & Joe’s is a Connecticut institution, serving up deep-fried seafood and grilled and broiled fish and lobsters. They have three locations, but we recommend the Madison outpost due to its proximity to Hammonasset Beach plus its BYOB policy and carousel. Drink an ice cold beer, eat a clam fritter, and savor the summer. 1301 Boston Post Rd., Madison, CT.
Cobie’s Clam Shack
It’s hard to pick a best clam shack in Cape Cod where you pass one practically every mile, but Cobie’s in Brewster is definitely high on the list. Out of a beachy white shack on Route 6A, Cobie’s has been serving excellent fried clams, hamburgers, cold lobster rolls (with just the knuckle meat), and creamy milkshakes since 1948. 3260 Main St., Brewster, MA.
Half fish market, half seafood shack Essex is, according to some, the best clam shack in a town with quiet a few contenders. This is a no-nonsense place that locals enjoy because it’s not swamped with tourists. Unlike the competition, Essex goes a step beyond and shucks all their clams in-house. The tartar sauce is also made from scratch and you can taste the difference. 143R Eastern Ave, Essex, MA.
Brown’s Lobster Pound
This spacious BYOB lobster and clam shack serves seafood done right at picnic tables on a waterfront deck. Brown’s, open since 1950, double dredges their clams and finishes them in a cracker crumb vat, lending serious crunch to the final fritters. 407 New Hampshire 286, Seabrook, NH.
One more North Shore institution makes our list. J.T. Farnham's in Essex has a long history (over 70 years) of serving up superior clam fritters. Enjoy your clams and fish at this homey, old-school spot, overlooking the Essex River salt marshes. 88 Eastern Ave., Essex, MA.