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May 6, 2000 02:28 PM

Good Chowda?

  • t

I'm heading over to Boston in July and was hoping for suggestions for good chowda.

I developed a serious addiction to the stuff during my college years in Massachusetts and have been disappointed in the offerings ANYWHERE outside of New England. I have been to many of the Chowderfest winners and have not always been impressed (e.g., Turner Fisheries Bar & Restaurant---too much celery). I did like the chowda at the Bay State Chowda Company, though.

Anyway, I know that there have to be other chowda addicts out there who can help me out. Thanks!

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  1. I hesitate to offer this, given the derision that my last recommendation provoked, but the fish chowder at the Driftwood, in Marblehead, wins hands down. They only serve it on FRIDAYS. Roughly 11-2, though if you go after 12:30 or so, you're really taking a chance of it being sold out. The place is SWARMING with "old salts" during the main hours, and will give you more New England feel than a month on a lobster boat.

    On the offchance they have any left over (it is rare, indeed), they'll also serve it on Saturdays. Other than that, you have to settle for their CLAM chowder the other 6 days of the week...and it sucks. Like the rest of their food. We have often gone for the Friday fish chowder, tried something else on the side, and sorely regretted it.

    Now we just work our ways through 2 or 3 bowls apiece.


    1 Reply
    1. re: julie id

      If you like the Driftwood's fish chowder, you will like the chowder at Christo's, a little diner in Manchester-by-the-Sea. I think it is still run by Greeks although I haven't seen the little old Greek grandmother dressed in black lately - she seemed to have a lot to do and nothing to do at the same time, always there. This little place used to be called the Coffee Cup and it is situated between my dentist's office and Manchester by the Book, a book store. It is right before the bend in the road that takes you into the center of town, before you descend into the busiest part of Manchester.
      Their chowder has that quality that distinguishes the Driftwood's - simplicity. In fact, you can make the chowder yourself with some onion, half-and-half, potatoes, fish and a dollop of butter. But the quality of all those ingredients is important, of course! And Christo's is consistent - that's what is so nice about eating there. It doesn't hurt that Manchester has a lot of Yankee charm and is small enough that you can hike from the train to the beach and then back to Christo's for chowder.

    2. Ritcey's in Waltham makes a good chowder if you like thin milky based chowder. See my posting dated 3/10 on this board. Grillfish, 162 Columbus Ave., Boston had a great chowder that used a touch of vodka. I have not been there in 3 years, so I am not sure if it is still good. A lot of people are Legal Seafood fans, I am not. They have several locations in and around Boston..


      4 Replies
      1. re: Paul

        Legal's chowder is great if you either are out of library paste or do not plan on eating for the rest of the night.

        Give me a bowl of thin Rhode Island-style chowder any day.

        1. re: Bob W.

          I couldn't agree with you more on the "THIN" base. "New England" style is my preference. I am sure there are some good RI versions but I don't think I have ever had one.

          I usually describe the thick versions as wallpaper paste┬ůsame idea.


          1. re: Paul
            David Miller

            I have had good "chowda" in lots of places. Visited Boston area last week-end (from Northern CA) and loved the No Names' "thin" version. I also like the thicker kind, though agree that it is often overdone. If you ever get to Seattle, try Ivars' carry out. Legal's is not bad, though too thick for my taste. The spicing is just right.

            1. re: David Miller
              Susan Schaefer

              I agree that the brothy chowders are far superior to the thick chowders. The No Name restaurant in Boston has By Far the best fish chowder around. If you like fish, you'll love this chowder. Farnhums in Essex runs a distant second.

      2. I know julie id pans the place, but for my money, the Barnacle in Marblehead makes the best chowder in the known universe. They use a mix of seafoods, plenty of cream, and tasty treats they call wine biscuits floating on top (they also give you the obligatory packet of oyster crackers). Sweet, creamy, satisfying...I always order a bowl when I'm there, and it's often my choice of a birthday dinner.

        1. My vote is for Skipjack's (either location) if you like the thicker version. It's very good!

          1. Posted as REAL NE Chowder - NOT THICK MUCK - Cape Cod

            Dissenters are welcome, but should not be believed.

            REAL NE chowders come in three flavors - clam, fish and corn. Period. Seafood chowder is an abomination.

            Chowder is not thick. A spoon will not stand up in it.
            It will slosh in your bowl, not glop on your spoon.
            Broth, which is the key to a great chowder, is a watery liquid. If the chowder is thick and creamy, it must,therefore, have too little broth. Read line one. A truly great chowder has consistency from the potatoes and fish only.

            It is made of:
            MILK - not just cream
            CREAM - preferably light cream
            FISH - haddock would be a blessing, cod is very acceptable OR
            CLAMS - either soft shell steamers or any hardshell variety from cherrystones to quahogs OR
            CORN - cut from the cob and the cob scraped for corn milk
            BROTH - a lot of broth from the fish or the clam. The corn milk supplies the corn broth flavor.
            ONIONS - a trace of onions lightly sauteed preferably in salted pork back or as a concession to the world, butter.
            POTATOES - Floury Maine or Idahos cut to spoon-sized unevenly shaped chunks. Waxy, redskins have their place but it is not in chowder.
            SALT (not match if you use pork rind) and PEPPER.
            NOTHING ELSE! NO celery, no herbs, no other spices.

            If the restaurant advertises "award-winning" NE chowder, stay away. There are scores of chowder contests. All are apparently judged by New Yorkers or other mis-informed "foodies." One "winner"in Hyannis amidst the flock of foodie, anti-New England restaurants on Main Street actually had NUTMEG in the chowder.

            I respect chef's trying variations on a theme. However, it is NOT NE chowder and should NEVER win a NE chowder award. Why don't these contests become honest and make a category for best chowder variation.

            For REAL CHOWDER on Cape Cod ( and get there quick before the cook tries to win a contest):

            Sagamore Inn, Sagamore on Rte 28. Too many onions and a lot of broth vs dairy make this almost a Rhode Island chowder. But it is briny and good. Good fried haddock. Unusual and not-to-my-taste Italianish dishes. Their own sauages are a delight.

            Captain Bob's Wee Packet Inn, Dennnis Fundamental stuff. If he has fried Maine shrimp, they are worth skipping a second bowl of chowder. The blueberry crunch can save you a trip to Maine.

            Seafood Sam's, Rte 28, Yarmouth
            Excellent chowder. Adequate but not spectacular fried clams.
            One of the few places left that have fried lobster - a real treat. Unfortunately, fried lobster seems to be only available with the seafood plate. Next trip, i will beg and plead for just as ide order of the fried lobster.

            PLEASE share any places you know woth REAL NE chowder.