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 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
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
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, 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.
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...
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
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, 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.
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