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. Bill’s Seafood on Boston Post Road in Westbrook, CT. Great fried Seafood platters etc. Outside deck on the river too.
    By the “singing bridge on RT 1.

  2. We always go to Seafood Sam’s in Sandwich Ma. Food is average priced for the area, but always consistent and great quality. They have the best Lobster Bisque I’ve had.

    1. Yes, on the mainland nothing is better, votednumber 1 in Cape Cod monthly, that tells you something ! Owner is a great guy too….

  3. I have a few favorites, The Lobster Claw in North Reading MA on rt.28 is a gem, They have excellent fried clams. The Kream N Kone in Dennis MA has excellent fried seafood, big portions for reasonable money. Also Jimmy Jones Locker in Rochester NH is a hidden gem. The wait is short, great fried seafood at good prices.

  4. How can you can talk about Fried Clams without talking about J.T. Farnhams in Essex. It is a notch or two above all others !! Try it out and see for yourself !!

  5. Yes, SS Lobster in Fitchburg. I grew up in the area and always gone there with family and friends. Never disappointed. They have an off spring in nearby Westminster, MA Kay’s Dairy. Good ice cream there too.

  6. McLaughlins lobster shack In Lincolnville Maine
    Clean, picturesque and on small intimate beach❤️

  7. Inland yes, but what about SS Lobster in Fitchburg, MA? Moved here from Los Angeles 15 years ago and was AMAZED by this place. Whenever visitors come to see us we take them to SS Lobster and they love it. As do we. Whenever my husband and I have special occasions, that’s usually where we go. Yes, it’s a dive but it’s a DELICIOUS dive. Fabulous lobster, clams, oysters, calamari, EVERYTHING! YUMS!

  8. What are their prices on a given day? I’ve seen fried clam plates from $18 to $34, lobster rolls from $15 to $52. I look for quality, quantity, price and location in that order. A lot of these places are seasonal gouges to which I avoid. The best places aren’t even mentioned for a local reason.

  9. Jimmies of Savin Rock in West Haven, CT serves great fried seafood belly clams and my new fav oysters fresh and succulent!

  10. Park Lunch in Newburyport serves delicious whole belly Ipswich fried clams but is tight on space. Worth the wait. ????????

  11. Blount’s Clam Shack in Warren, RI. Not only great clams, chowder, and “stuffies”, but great lobster rolls, too (esp. the Giant.)

  12. I LOVE ARNOLD’S ON RT.6 IN EASTHAM MA. ON THE CAPE !! THEIR SEAFOOD IS AMAZING PLUS THEIR CLAM CHOWDER , AMAZING ONION RINGS HAS MY FAMILY RAVING FOR OVER 20 YEARS. YOU WON’T BE DISAPPOINTED UNLESS YOU BRING A CREDIT CARD OR A CHECKBOOK BECAUSE THEY ONLY ACCEPT CASH !! ATM IS AVAILABLE THOUGH ????????????

    1. Arnold’s in Eastham (Cape Cod) is consistently excellent and worth the wait. They move the line fast, the food is excellent good choice of microbrews. Takeout is a great option too, call ahead walk past the line and take your delicious food to the nearby beaches!

  13. the best for fried clams and everything ia a real hidden gem called the choate bridge pub in Ipswich ma puts all others to shame… and a real bargain

    1. This place has the best clam or scallop plate on the North Shore. The downside of this venue is the owners refuse to do a combo plate resulting in having to buy 2 delicious plates which increases your bill.

  14. Farnham’s in Essex is the queen of the fleet in my opinion. Just down the road from Woodman’s – better food, prices and view. Been going here, Clam Box and Woodman’s for over 60 years and Farnham’s is my favorite.

  15. Captain John’s in Lowell Ma. is as good as any fried clams ever and their onion rings can’t be beat either

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