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New England Seafood Restaurants to Visit

Great New England seafood restaurant: Abbott's Lobster in the Rough, Noank CT
Abbott's Lobster in the Rough, Noank, Conn.
by Eric Hurwitz. Article updated on 6/4/2021

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If you're looking for some of the best seafood dining (including clam and lobster shacks) in the country, then you've come to the right place when visiting New England.

The New England seafood industry is huge and the benefits get passed along to the customer, as high quality local dining establishments receive fresh fish daily. Sometimes, the atmosphere is just as thrilling with some restaurants offering warm weather outdoor dining with an ocean view. But whether indoor or outdoor dining, you can't go wrong at the following recommended New England seafood restaurants and clam shacks...

The Docksider, Northeast Harbor, Maine
The Docksider in Northeast Harbor, Maine

Northeast Harbor, Acadia National Park, Maine, is a splendid little village boasting the prettiest harbor you will ever see and some of the best Maine seafood at the Docksider (14 Sea St, Northeast Harbor, Maine. Tel. 207-276-3965). This is what prospective New England vacationers think of when envisioning a charming seaside seafood shack. The Docksider could be considered your classic Maine restaurant, with charming "Down East" waitresses, lobster to die for, unbelievable clam chowder, and in the summer, salt air flavored outdoor dining on the doorstep of the Harbor. Northeast Harbor. They also have Gifford's Ice Cream, a Maine product not to be missed by anyone who likes ice cream.

DiMillo's On the Water, Portland, ME
DiMillo's On the Water in Portland, Maine.

DiMillo's On the Water in Portland, Maine (25 Long Wharf, Tel. 207-772-2216), is a beautiful waterfront restaurant located in a huge, converted car ferry. Whether dining indoor or outdoor, the fine coastal views and locally-sourced New England seafood combine for a fabulous dining out experience. The great thing about Dimillo's is that they seem to have something for everyone, whether it be standard seafood favorites or something more upscale. I personally like the tasty, overstuffed lobster roll accompanied by the most flavorful lobster stew imaginable. And while it's not seafood, consider topping off your meal with some delicious Maine blueberry cobbler. DiMillo's has been family-owned and operated since 1965. The pride of ownership shows through its service, attention to detail and décor. The seafood cuisine might very well be the best ever in its history given the creative chef-driven menu. Read more on DiMillo's

 Lobster stew from DiMillo's On the Water, Portland, ME
Lobster stew from DiMillo's On the Water

The Maine Diner (2265 Post Road, Route One Wells, Maine, 207-646-4441), actually beats many nearby southern, Maine, seaside competitors at their own game by offering some of the best New England seafood. It's unusual that such high quality seafood would come from a diner, but the fresh taste is undeniable from the amazing and substantial lobster pie to good old fried clams and seafood chowder. Of course, having a wonderful slice of berry pie makes for a combination that would infuriate dieticians and delight pretty much anyone else.

Barnacle Billy's at Perkins Cove in Ogunquit, ME
Barnacle Billy's

Not too far from the Maine Diner on the southern Maine coast is the legendary Barnacle Billy's ( 50 Oar Weed Rd., Ogunquit, Maine, 207-646-5575) , overlooking the ultimate New England view called Perkins Cove. Harbor and ocean views and boats born out of wealth create the setting for some wonderful fresh lobster, steamed clams, great chowder and that signature seafood dish, barbecue chicken (it's really good) at this full-service restaurant that has been around for more than 40 years. Barnacle Billy's has two locations, virtually on top of each other -- Barnacle Billy's Etc., and the original Barnacle Billy's. You can't go wrong at either location -- the food is terrific and the indoor and sun deck seating afford amazing views of coastal New England. Seasonal.

The dining room is about as long as the entire Atlantic Coast, the wait can be extremely long, and the dining experience resembles that of an out-of-control picnic, but the seasonal Ogunquit Lobster Pound (504 Main St, Ogunquit, Maine, 207-646-2516) has undeniably top-notch, incredibly tasty lobster. You get to pick out your own, much to the lobster's dismay. Everything else here is good, too, but when at a lobster pound, the right thing to do is order lobster. It's one of New England's best-known lobster shacks and deserves that attention as an A1 lobster destination.

Fosters Downeast Clambake (1 Axholme Rd.,York, Maine, 202-363-3255) not only specializes in offering a wonderful clambake (Maine lobster, steamers and clam chowder), but also the feeling of truly being in traditional "Downeast" Maine. Eating fresh steamed Maine lobster, sweet corn on the cob, chowder and steamers, fried clams, lobster rolls, and a blueberry crumb cake for dessert under a large, festive (there's often musical entertainment here), picnic-like pavilion dining room indeed reflects a classic Maine way of dining in the good, old salt-sea summertime. The lobster pools at the walk-up order area are also a great attraction, especially for the kids.  Fosters also features a gift shop  --  you're sure to find something here as a "memory" of your Maine vacation, including Fosters merchandise.

Warren's Lobster House (Water St., Kittery, Maine, 207-439-1630) has been a tourist's favorite for generations with its large dining room, cozy lounge, waterfront location, family-friendly atmosphere and separate gift shop, but it's the 60-plus item salad bar, lobster fresh from its own adjacent lobster pound and a tremendous variety of broiled and fried seafoods that keep this landmark still relevant, appealing and delicious. Read more on Warren's

Lobster from Warren's Lobster House in Kittery, Maine
Lobster From Warren's Lobster House in Kittery, Maine.

Markey's Lobster Pool (Route 286, Seabrook, N.H., 603-474-2851) is the ultimate New England seafood summer dining place with fresh lobster from an on-premises lobster pool, incredible clam chowder, delicious corn on the cob and some of the best fried clams (and onion rings) in New England. The lobster roll is packed with Markey's signature lobster in a tasty toasted roll. The atmosphere is unpretentious and brings in everyone from young women with big hair and bigger shoes to senior citizens enjoying the great seafood and fair prices. Markey's also offers outside dining on the deck with a nice water and marsh view. It is the perfect place to enjoy scenic New England (near the limited New Hampshire coastline) while the sun goes down. Open year-round.

Markey's, Seabrook, NH
Markey's Lobster Pool

The North Shore section of Massachusetts owns two of the best clam shacks in New England -- The Clam Box (246 High St., Ipswich, Tel. 978 356-9707) and Woodman's (Route 133, Main St., Essex, Tel. 978-768-6057). Woodman's get most of the glory as it is arguably the first clam shack in the country, and keeps it reputation alive by serving mouthwatering, full bodied fried clams, but The Clam Box (which is architecturally and masterfully shaped like a clam box) is right up there, too. It's just a matter of personal preference but you can never go wrong with either. The Clam Box - Woodman's comparison is sort of like a regionalized "Taste great-less filling" debate (remember the Miller beer commercial), with no clear-cut winner. We recommend flipping a coin! Read our feature story on Woodman's

Fried clams from Woodman's in Essex, Mass.
Fried clams from Woodman's

Boston, Mass. has many fine seafood restaurants, some legendary but perhaps the finest -- along with Legal Sea Foods, is the Daily Catch. We dined at the North End location (323 Hanover St., Tel. 617-523-8567), which is tiny, has no atmosphere and offers wonderfully fresh, always hot favorites such as calamari, seafood pasta dishes, schrod that is actually flavorful, and a knack for using the correct amount of garlic in many of its dishes. It's a bit cramped and uncomfortable in there, but don't let it faze you if it's great seafood you're looking for.

Natick, Mass., is a nice western Boston suburban town, but somehow having one of the best New England seafood restaurants -- The Dolphin (12 Washington St., 508-655-0669)-- in New England doesn't quite add up. Natick is not on the seacoast. Natick is a place of many shoe stores. People live in Natick to be comfortable as most homes have more than one bath. Some of the worst Boston drivers go to Speen Street to cast their ugly reputation on unsuspecting and decent people. So, what's a great seafood place doing in a suburban setting like this? We don't know. What we know, however, is that this offshoot of the original Cambridge, MA, location, represents New England seafood at its best. From Chilean bass to a sumptuous lobster pie, the Dolphin never disappoints, except for not being on the seacoast.

The Mill Wharf Restaurant in Scituate, Mass., on the South Shore (150 Front St., 781-545-3999), offers one of the best harbor views we've experienced at a New England restaurant and seafood that is about as good as its gets in New England The lobster stew is undeniably top-notch, a savory mix of abundant lobster chunks and a splendid cream base. The broiled scallops are perfectly prepared and a recent special, the shrimp risotto with an Asian sauce, validated the chef's ambitious and intuitive nature -- a dish that wanted you coming back for more. Of course, there's lobster, cod, and haddock -- all expertly prepared. The atmosphere at night, with its large dimly lit dining room with great hardwood floors and the lovely Scituate Harbor sunsets, make for one of the grandest overall dining experiences in the northeast..

CabbyShack at Plymouth Harbor in Plymouth, Mass. (30 Town Wharf, 508-746-5354) makes the most delicious New England clam chowder -- so thick that a spoon could stand straight up in the bowl. In addition to the flavorful, chock-full-of-clams chowder, CabbyShack is also known for its oversized lobsters and lobster rolls. Beyond those specialties, CabbyShack also offers a wide array of fresh, local seafood dishes, as well as a terrific bar pizza. The water views are most pleasing, too -- the perfect place for some seafood and a cocktail. Read more on CabbyShack

New England clam chowder from CabbyShack in Plymouth, MA
CabbyShack's New England clam chowder

Wood’s Seafood also at Plymouth Harbor (5 Town Pier, 508-746-0261) is terrific as a budget-friendly seafood shack with informal dining room water views and a market on the premises. It's also easily and conveniently walkable to attractions like Plymouth Rock, the Mayflower II and the Pilgrim Hall Museum. Wood’s mostly catches its own fish, so cutting out the middleman keeps the prices down. The seafood quality is almost always top-notch including the fish and chips plate, broiled salmon, filet of fish sandwich and huge seafood platter (could serve two people). The lobster, lobster roll and fried clams are priced daily, but generally a reasonable value and certainly better than most tourist seafood places you’ll find on nearby Cape Cod. Wood’s was once voted Editor’s Choice for Massachusetts by Yankee Magazine’s Travel Guide to New England, based on insider recommendations.

Sesuit Harbor Café,
Sesuit Harbor Café, West Dennis, Mass. (Cape Cod)

There are many fine Cape Cod seafood restaurants, but a personal favorite is the seasonal Sesuit Harbor Café in peaceful West Dennis, Mass. (357 Sesuit Harbor Rd,, Tel. 508-385-6134). Sesuit Harbor Cafe's outdoor seating on picnic benches overlooks Northside Marina and Cape Cod Bay, thus lending one of the most scenic dining spots we've experienced in southern New England. But it's the humongous, tasty and overflowing lobster rolls -- along with the cooked-just-right fried seafood selections -- that make the Sesuit Harbor Café such a special New England place. Try to get there before the mercurial New England weather goes bad! Cash only.

The Lobster Trap, Bourne, Mass.,
Lobster Trap in Bourne, Mass. (Cape Cod)

If looking for a classic Cape Cod seafood shack, definitely check out the Lobster Trap in Bourne, Mass. (290 Shore Rd., Tel. 508-759-7600). This weathered-looking but updated restaurant, fish market and bar features a riverfront view and what many locals regard as some of the freshest seafood (cooked any way you'd like) found on the Cape. A lobster roll would be a great place to start...

The Lobster Trap, Bourne, Mass.,
Lobster roll from the Lobster Trap

Indoor and outdoor dining at the Lobster Trap will get you in a Cape Cod state of mind in no time with the patio maybe offering the most appealing experience -- nice water views and that unmistakable smell of the salt sea air. Another bonus: The restaurant is located close to the Bourne Bridge so that means not having to travel too far up the Cape to enjoy some of the best seafood.

View from the top of the Coast Guard House in Narragansett, RI
View from the top of the Coast Guard House

Narragansett, R.I. might just be one of the most underrated coastal towns in New England with its impressive stretches of sandy beaches, grand old waterfront homes, a working class fishing village (Galilee) and some fabulous seafood restaurants. At the top of the dining out list: the Coast Guard House (40 Ocean Rd., Tel. 401-789-0700), located on scenic Narragansett Bay, With spectacular water views from the indoor dining rooms or outside decks and patios, the Coast Guard House is one of those New England destinations that people dream about for an authentic local seafood dining out experience. Much of the seafood is caught within a few miles of the restaurant and it shows in the freshness of the food. Some standout selections: clam cakes, New England clam chowder, lobster rolls, lobster ravioli, lobster mac and cheese, steamed lobster, salmon, pan roasted scallops and calamari This historic waterfront restaurant (formerly a U.S. Coast Guard station) is a must-visit when traveling New England! Read more on the Coast Guard House

As just mentioned, Galilee offers an authentic perspective of a working class fisherman's village with George's of Galilee (250 Sand Hill Cove Rd., Narragansett, Tel 401-783-2306) leading the way in seafood dining. The ultimate seafood shack, George's offers oceanside indoor (year-round) and outdoor dining (not year-round because it's New England). Local bands entertain in the lounge section, while families dine downstairs in a seemingly soundproof room that blocks out cover songs of Journey and Foreigner. After eating the delicious fried, broiled or baked seafood dishes, step outside onto Salty Brine State Beach. Named after the late WPRO-AM (Providence, RI,) broadcasting legend, the beach is a pleasant and convenient place to experience swimming and sunbathing at a very nice part of the Atlantic Ocean. George's is part of a great New England vacation day that can be spent at the beach, watching the fishermen do their hard work, taking a ferry to beautiful Block Island or visiting the myriad shops in this South County gem of a village.

George's of Galilee in Narragansett, Rhode Island

George's of Galilee in Narragansett, R.I.

Champlin's (256 Great Island Rd, Narragansett, Tel. 401-783-3152) is virtually across the street from George's and every bit as good in regards to food and view.  The feel is a bit more authentic with its order-at-the-window service, ample outdoor seating with panoramic water and fishing boat views, lobster, clam and other classic New England seafood selections and a seafood market on the premises. As an added benefit, Champlin's has an ice cream stand!

Evelyn’s Nanaquaket Drive-In (2335 Main Rd., Tiverton, R.I., 401-624-3100), about a mile from Tiverton’s central district, serves local Rhode Island culinary gems like Rhode Island clam chowder, “Stuffies” (local quahogs halved and filled with spicy blend of chopped clams and seasonings) and clam cakes. Its most famous dish, however, is the unlikely but delicious lobster chow mein with five ounces of lobster atop a hot chow mein gravy and crispy noodles. Evelyn’s evokes that classic seasonal, roadside seafood shack look and features a beautiful outdoor dining area overlooking the water.

Dining outside at Abbott's Lobster in the Rough, Noank, CT
Dining outside at Abbott's.

Abbott's Lobster in the Rough in Noank, Conn. (117 Pearl St., Noank, Conn. 860-536-7719) is a large, waterfront, seasonal lobster shack (near famous Mystic) where lobster is clearly the specialty. The New England Seafood Feast stands out as the ultimate shore meal: clam chowder, "shrimp in the rough" steamers, mussels, topped off with an absolutely fresh and delicious steamed lobster. The warm, buttered lobster roll with ample tender lobster is to die for. We also recommend ordering the fresh, native corn on the cob and, if possible, saving enough room for dessert -- including New York-style cheesecake, carrot cake, strawberry shortcake, apple crisp, brownie sundae and ice cream. Order-at-the-window service, picnic tables on the lawn, outside deck dining right at the water and breezy informal indoor dining round out this grand New England waterfront dining experience.

Lobster roll from the Beach Plum in various New Hampshire locations.
Lobster roll from New Hampshire's Beach Plum. Photo credit: Beach Plum.

Up in New Hampshire the Beach Plum (various locations) pleases on so many levels but most notably the incredibly tasty and substantial lobster rolls, flavorful New England clam chowder and lobster bisque, and fried seafood. The Beach Plum certainly doesn't skimp on its servings or quality and that's what has drawn the 300,000+ customers in every year (with the exception of the pandemic). They also serve 78 flavors of ice cream! The Beach Plum in North Hampton is located at 17 Ocean Blvd. on Route 1A across from the North Hampton State Beach. Tel. 603-964-7451. Reopening for the season April 2018. The Beach Plum in Portsmouth is located at 2800 Lafayette Blvd. on Route 1. Tel. 603-433-3339. The Beach Plum in Epping is located at the Brickyard Square Shopping Center, 24 NH 125. Tel. 603-679-3200. Read more on the Beach Plum

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