Summer is winding down in New England and many of the hidden roadside gems that serve your favorite deep-fried seafood indulgences will be closing for the season. Before chowder and heavy fall dishes take over, enjoy one last indulgence.
Food and travel writer Mike Urban wrote the book on New England clam shacks – literally. Urban lists his expert choices for New England’s 10 best clam shacks in Clam Shacks: The Ultimate Guide to New England’s Most Fantastic Seafood Eateries.
Here are his top 5!
1. The Clam Box | Ipswich, MA
The adorable Clam Box has been designed to resemble its name – an open-topped box of delicious fried clams! According to Urban it is “hands-down the best place for fried clams anywhere.” Owner Marina “Chickie” Aggelakis personally selects all the clams from her suppliers’ trucks each morning. They are then “washed” in evaporated milk, coated with corn flour and white pastry flour, and twice-fried. According to the website, the hours are subject to change without notice so hurry on up to Ipswitch before the autumn hours take effect!
2. J. T. Farnham’s Seafood & Grill | Essex, MA
Located on Route 133 – New England’s “Clam Highway” – J.T. Farnham’s is a true traditional roadside seafood shack. The fried seafood is prepared in a mixture of vegetable oil and animal fat to create some of the most flavorful clams you’ve ever tasted. They are also known for their non-traditional “Best Seafood Chowder,” packed with fresh clams, haddock, shrimp, sea scallops, and lobster in a broth in a creamy, tomato-streaked broth.
3. Markey’s Lobster Pool | Seabrook, NH
Markey’s Lobster Pool has been a family-owned landmark in Seabrook since 1971. They offer delicious, year-round dining for locals and the area’s visiting beachgoers. The large covered deck out back offers open-air dining overlooking the tidal Blackwater River. Markey’s is known for its deep-fried clams, scallops, haddock, shrimp, and fried lobster. Can’t decide? Order the massive fried seafood platter topped with two fried lobster tails!
4. The Clam Shack | Kennebunk, ME
This modest establishment located on the edge of the Kennebunk River is known for its award-winning lobster rolls served on fresh buns from a nearby local bakery, but its namesake clams also draw the crowds! Get them fried or try The Clam Shack’s homemade clam chowder alongside a light, crispy fried haddock sandwich. And for dessert? Fried dough – a New England favorite!
5. Lenny & Joe’s Fish Tale | Madison, CT
This institution has been serving some of Connecticut’s freshest, most delicious seafood since 1979. They have three locations in Westbrook, Madison and New Haven. The Madison restaurant near Hammonasset Beach State Park, serves deep-fried platters of clams, scallops, shrimp, and scrod all year-round. They are also known for their hot, buttered lobster rolls and their commitment to healthier eaters. The menu features gluten-free options and grilled or broiled seafood and steamed lobster options.
You can view Urban’s complete list of incredible New England clam shacks here.
H/T to NewEngland.com