8 Must-Try New England Clam Shacks

No summer road trip is complete without a stop at one – or all – of these iconic clam shacks.
clam shacks

What’s the best recipe for a summer meal? Take one part fresh-off-the-boat seafood, one part sunshine, add a dash of ocean breeze, a squeeze of lemon and voila! Here are some of our favorite New England clam shacks. Share yours in the poll below.

Champlin’s Seafood Deck

Narragansett, R.I.

Located just steps off the docks of Point Judith, where all of the fishing boats full of that delicious calamari come in, is Champlin’s. The first floor is a seafood market where you can pick out your own lobster. The second floor is the Seafood Deck, where you can have it cooked. Champlin’s serves clam cakes, white, red and clear chowder, and all of the traditional clam shack fare. There’s also a shucked-to-order raw bar and an outdoor bar serving up killer mudslides.

Jim’s Dock

South Kingstown, R.I.

Jim’s Dock is closer to Champlin’s by sea than by land. Even though it’s in a different town, it’s a stone’s throw across Galilee Salt Pond Harbor to Point Judith. This BYOB restaurant is as casual as they come, and people regularly roll in from a day at the beach in their bathing suits and shorts. Don’t miss the interesting variations on calamari, and the Point Judith “stuffie” or stuffed quahog clam, a Rhode Island staple.

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The Clam Shack

Kennebunkport, Maine

The line can be long at The Clam Shack, which sits right on the bridge over the Kennebunkport River. That’s because a lot of people have tried the legendary fried clams in the over 50 years that the restaurant’s been open, and most come back for more. Order at the window and eat at one of the restaurant’s picnic tables or take it to a spot along the main thoroughfare of this idyllic Maine town. Don’t miss the signature lobster roll served on fresh bread.

Bob’s Clam Hut

Kittery, Maine

Bob’s Clam Hut has been feeding hungry crowds in southern Maine since 1956. Here, the whole belly clams come Bob’s style (breaded then fried) or Lillian’s style (dipped in egg wash, then breaded and fried, so they come out with a lighter texture and consistency), on a roll or as a dinner plate with fries and coleslaw. Combo platters, where you can combine clams with shrimp, scallops, fish or oysters, are where it’s really at. Instead of keeping tips left behind in tip cups, Bob’s donates that money to worthy causes; there’s even a form on its website to apply as a beneficiary.

Clam Box of Ipswich

Ipswich, Mass.

This North Shore food destination has been lining up crowds since 1935, and for good reason: Clam Box dishes out some of the best seafood in all of the Bay State. Choose from clams, scallops, shrimp, haddock, calamari or oysters – and in a nice change from tradition, you can pick onion rings in place of your fries or your coleslaw. Smaller “mini meals” are a nice choice, especially if you decide to add a seafood-only “box” or two for the table.

Larsen’s Fish Market

Martha’s Vineyard, Mass.

Larsen’s, in the tiny fishing village of Menemsha, isn’t really all that close to the ferry landings at Oak Bluffs or Vineyard Haven. Menemsha is part of Chilmark, which is almost as far west on the island as you can get. But the trip out to Larsen’s is worth it, especially at the end of the day, when the sunsets from the picnic tables are spectacular. The menu is small – lobsters, chowder, stuffed clams and scallops, steamers and mussels – but it’s as fresh as seafood comes and really makes the case for life’s simple pleasures.

Costello’s Clam Shack

Noank, Conn.

While you’ll get clam cakes in Rhode Island, you’ll get clam fritters in Connecticut. And if you order them at Costello’s, you’ll get to eat them right on the docks of the Mystic River and look out at views of three states at once. This BYOB restaurant is so close to the shore it offers directions by land and by water. The menu is slightly bigger than your average clam shack – it also has items like fish and shrimp tacos, and several salads – but if you don’t get some Noank-style clear chowder and some fritters for dipping, you’re missing out.

clam shacks

Lobster Landing

Clinton, Conn.

Lobster Landing sits on Clinton Harbor, squarely in the center of Connecticut’s coast, and overlooks the Long Island Sound. The small menu is written on a white board inside the photo-worthy seaside shack, and the owners welcome customers to bring anything they don’t serve. So while you should definitely order some steamers and the restaurant’s specialty hot lobster roll, you could, theoretically, bring a cooler with a dessert tucked inside. Just a suggestion.

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Which clam shack completes your summer? Tell us about it in the comments. 

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97 Thoughts on “8 Must-Try New England Clam Shacks

  1. Jeff from Massachusetts again, for an out of state clam shack I like Bob’s Clam Hut in Kittery, ME

    1. For MA clam shacks I have 2 favorites. On the South Shore it is Tony’s Clam Shop on Wollaston Beach. On the North Shore it is Farnham’s in Essex.

  2. I’m from Massachusetts and I have 2 favorites. On the South Shore it is Tony’s Clam Shop in Wollaston. On the North Shore it is Farnham’s in Essex.

  3. Gotta smile a bit when Flo’s (Portsmouth and Middletown, RI) and Woodman’s (Essex, MA) didn’t make the cut. These are great clam shacks (I just ate at the Clam Box last week) but Woodman’s MUST be at the top of anyone’s bucket list.

  4. The Clambox in Ipswich has the best fried scallop/ clam plate. The batter is really good, and they’re are plenty of crunchy onion rings and fries that go with it. The dish is so big- it’s enough for 2 people. It’s the only place we go for seafood. Delicious!!!

  5. Larson’s Lunch Box in Damariscotta, ME is the best I have visited. Small parking lot assures no long lines, but if there were a wait it would be worth it. The crab rolls will make you forget all of your other food cravings and the lobster rolls are great also. Don’t stop for the view, just the food. Get takeout and find a spot on the water.
    Jim’s dock in RI has the atmosphere I love with seafood, relaxed dining, working fishing boats, BYOB, and an open deck.

  6. The Clam Box of Ipswich is an excellent place. When I and friends of mine would go to Crane’s Beach, we’d spend several hours at the beach and stop for a scrumptious seafood dinner at the Clam Box of Ipswich on the way home. That was a fabulous means of ending a joyous and sunny day!

  7. You’ve got to try Monaghan’s in Narragansett. I haven’t been that way in about 5 to 6 years but they had the best clam cakes and white chowder, beats Iggy’s hands down

  8. Overton’s in Norwalk, CT and The Lobster Shack in Cape Elizabeth, ME are two of my faves.

  9. Brothers Seafood Restaurant, 6 Olney St, Seekonk, MA 02771
    Best fried clams and other seafood, small place but will satisfy big appetites!

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