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Wondering about recs for the best clamshacks and best items at each and if they are open yet??

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  1. Clambox in Ipswich. Was there yesterday so they are open. Had big belly clams, very good but I didn't think that their onion rings were great. Essex Seafood in Essex, good clams and better onion rings. Open all year.

    7 Replies
    1. re: chuck s

      We were there about a week ago as well. I'm a sucker for onion rings and have FINALLY trained myself to resist the Clam Box's, because they really aren't all that good. The fries are fine, though. I like the 2-way combo of clams and scallops; BFP has a non-New Englander's fondness for clam strips and reports that theirs are notably superior to the bad chain-restaurant ones that give clam strips such a bad reputation. The clam chowder is also quite good.

      I'm also quite fond of the completely unrelated establishment called the Clam Box on Wollaston Beach in Quincy. Not as iconic as the Ipswich place, but it has its own charms.

      1. re: chuck s

        woodman's of essex has the best fried clams and an idyllic setting...

        1. re: cherrygarcia

          Never heard anyone advocate this position before. The consensus is that Woodman's is an overrated tourist trap!

          Although it gets mixed reviews on this board, I'm a big fan of Dairy Joy, in Weston. Yes it's expensive, and yes everything else on the menu (except their soft serve and their great onion rings) is to be avoided, but I find their clams to be as good or better than the places up north, and they're a lot more convenient for most of us!

          1. re: Blumie

            Dairy Joy does have great full belly claims, espcially when considering it's locality. BTW, I would think "idyllic" is a bit of a stretch, also :-)

            1. re: Harp00n

              Well, it's idyllic if you enjoy the view of the parking lot or the Dunkin Donuts next door.

              1. re: Blumie

                Yeah, the views ain't much. In Woodman's defense, their onion rings are incredibly good. Some of the best I've had.

                1. re: DoubleMan

                  ditto. woodmans certainly isnt bad, just overrated. and the o-rings are the best.

      2. Farnham's in Essex(?). Perfect small crispy clams.

        3 Replies
        1. re: sflory

          like Farnham's but i like the ClamBox better. a lighter fry and much larger portions and consistently larger clams, especially the big bellies. and i don't know about the previous posters but i love CB's onion rings.

          1. re: ScubaSteve

            I haven't had Farnhams, but I'll agree with ScubaSteve and seefood that Clam Box is great - lots of great clams at good prices (Woodman's does not compete). Looking forward to trying the Cupboard in Gloucester.

            1. re: steinpilz

              at the Clam Box last night. no crowd, big bellies, awesome scallops. i still don't get the griping about the O-Rings here. i get 'all rings' and eat them all, luv 'em.

        2. I was at Essex Seafood on Friday and the big bellied clams appeared gigantic (I had lobster instead). The steamers were as dirty as I've ever had ... something about the rough seas must have dumped all the grit in them. To his credit, the counterguy tried to warn us off them ... saying we probably wanted a small because we were having lobsters too. We were gluttons and of course regretted it. Have to say that the lobster wasn't cheap but it was sweet delicious and perfectly steamed by the pros at Essex.

          1. My vote goes to Farnham's , 88 Eastern Ave. Rt. 133, Essex, MA . The fried clams and seafood chowder are top notch.

            1. Have any of you had the chance to scout out the Quincy area yet? I ask, yet again, because you were so helpful in recommending Neptune and Grumpy White's last winter in response to an urgent request from my American sister living in England. Neptune was outstanding, and Grumpy Whites was fun and tasty. Any insight on fried oysters would be very welcome as well. If it were not for this pesky mid-life metabolism I would be all over this...

              2 Replies
              1. re: chowfamily

                The Cupboard in Stage Fort Park, Gloucester. Just our little secret. If not, Essex Seafood or Farnham's is the Real Deal with better views. Gotta say clambox in IPS is good but NEGATORY on their onion rings.

              2. Since every clam shack in Essex has been mentioned, here's where I do a shameless plug for the Village Restaurant's fried clams as well. If you're feeling guilty and want to make it feel more like a shack dine Al fresco on the Headway cafe's patio. Don't get me wrong, the Clam Box is still ahead by a small belly on the fried clams, But this is a great local, full-service seafood restaurant.

                4 Replies
                1. re: Harp00n

                  Yum! I was up in Essex last night Woodman's was way too humid so we decided to eat at Village Restaurant... very good clams and decadant fried lobsta.... ooo I could feel my arteries constrict!

                  1. re: Diski

                    .....now repeat after me, butter is a GOOD thing!

                    1. re: Diski

                      We were up there too. Went to Periwinkles after a 2 year hiatus and it was much better than I remembered.. Sat at the bar .Piano man playing. I had the house salad (dark greens, tomato, bermuda onion, balsamic dressing) topped w grilled salmon. Large perfectly cooked filet, iced tea. Hubs had haddock sandwich which was fried crispy w a cornflake crust on a toasted, buttered bun served w homemade tartar sauce and fries, 2 beers. Bill was $35..a steal!!! Will be back soon.

                      1. re: shaebones

                        We were thinking of going there as well. Perwinkles is always a nice surprice!

                  2. Went to Farnham’s for clams yesterday. Disappointing. I am sad to have to report that, because I’d read many good comments about it on this board and I arrived all ready to like it. Getting out of the car, seeing the great view of the salt marsh out back and the restaurant’s classic clam shack appearance, I was all set for a great clam-eating experience.

                    Unfortunately, the clams were okay but not better than just okay, and the onion rings and fries were not good—they seem to be the pre-battered, frozen kind that come off a Sysco truck, or rather one of Sysco’s lower-quality competitors. (When I was in the restaurant biz I was happy to serve Sysco’s premium-quality fries. They were quite good.)

                    Here are all (I think) the other places where I’ve eaten fried clams on the North Shore:

                    The Clam Box, Ipswich: the best, clearly. Really really good. Nice light, golden, crispy coating on the sweetest clams.

                    Woodman’s, Essex: I know that it gets a bad rap on Chowhound, but—and this is based on my one visit—I don’t agree, at least insofar as clams are concerned. Yes, the place is big and touristy, with its kitschy souvenir shop, and it is perhaps overpriced (though clams are pricey most places). But I liked the clams I got there. They were sweet, tender, fried right, tasty.

                    Captain Carlo’s, Gloucester: Very good clams. Not a clam shack, but a decent seafood restaurant with a fun deck overlooking the working harbor.

                    The Barnacle, Marblehead: Another place that gets mixed reviews on this board, but my experiences there (which number around half a dozen) have all been good. I tend to get fried seafood, usually clams, which is pretty much my favorite food these days. And the clams there are good. Not as good as the Clam Box, but much better than Farnham’s.

                    The Landing, Marblehead: The main problem with the Landing is that it is inconsistent. When it is good, it is pretty darn good. But I’ve had some off meals there, which can be pretty darn bad. I’ve had clams there four times; three of those meals were good and one was a disappointment. Leaving that fourth experience out of the equation, I’d rate their clams just a notch below those of the Barnacle and Captain Carlo’s, considerably below the Clam Box, obviously, and considerably better than Farnham’s. Lately at the Landing I've been getting the fried fish sandwich, which is excellent.

                    Red Rock, Swampscott: I know, I know—inconsistent, overpriced, staff has an attitude—I’ve read all these criticisms on this forum. But my experiences there have been good. The last time I was there, which was the day after the last nor’easter, when we went to have lunch and watch the waves crash onto the street in front of the restaurant, the staff couldn’t have been friendlier. And the food, including the clams, was just fine. I’ve had clams there twice and enjoyed them both times. Actually, thrice—once we got them at the outside window and ate at the picnic tables, which was fun.

                    Flynnie’s at the Beach, Marblehead (at Devereux Beach): I include this because, well, I had clams there once. I won’t again, though; Flynnie’s at the Beach is history. Starting this year the seasonal restaurant will be operated by the owners of Red Rock Bistro, so perhaps it will be better. Flynnie’s clams were not so good. Small, greasy, limp, not very tasty.

                    Salem Willows: not good clams. (And what is the deal with the chop suey sandwiches, by the way? Those are bizarre. Bland and kinda gross.)

                    Topsfield Fair: In my effort to include all the places I’ve eaten clams around here, I include the time I got some from a vendor at the Topsfield Fair. Big mistake. Worst clams ever. Inedible.

                    8 Replies
                    1. re: seefood

                      Nice report seefood, sorry & surprised that Farnhams wasn't up to snuff. Feel very lucky that you've never been a victim of the owner's 'tude at Red Rock because it has definitely been exhibited in the past. Their little brown paper bags of clams are excellent but the pricing is a little bit dear. Again, a very thoughtful post :-))

                      1. re: seefood

                        don't be dissin' my chop suey sammich. itz not summer until i've had a few of those on drinky drunky nights. i usually get two each, chop suey, pepper steak. hit them hard with soy sauce and white pepper. MmmmmmmmmmmmmMmmmmmmm, gotta go.....

                        1. re: ScubaSteve

                          So maybe the problem was that I tried a chop suey sandwich while stone cold sober in the afternoon?

                          And certainly the extra seasoning would have helped.

                          1. re: seefood

                            maybe. but i still like them if for the only reason being the memories of getting them when i was a kid, back in the day.

                            1. re: ScubaSteve

                              This morning I mentioned these soooweee! sandwiches to a co-worker, who I knew was originally from The Salem Willows area, because I'd never heard of 'em. I'm from Lynn, ask me about Johnny Joyce's chopped ham sangs, not this stuff. His eyes lit-up and he exclaimed; "You mean they still have them?". The bottom line is that he said he was going over there to get one and left at 11:00. It's now 1:42 and he ain't returned yet!

                              1. re: ScubaSteve

                                I can imagine that. I didn't grow up here, but my daughter is doing so. We took her to Salem Willows once last summer when she was only a few months old, too young to begin to sample the local grub. But I am sure that years from now she will have similar fond memories.

                            2. re: ScubaSteve

                              my first job was at the old skeeball place at the willows (the small one, not there anymore). i used to get either a chop suey sandwich or a pepper steak sandwich everyday for lunch. of course it's not gourmet food but they were tasty....i'll be back there this weekend. defintiely going to have one.

                            3. re: seefood

                              the onion rings are homemade and take forever to make they are great in my opinion and in most as well the fries are Terry's idea if anyone likes other fries they should tell her the owner she fights for the steak fries. something to think about too- the onion rings dont cost extra even though they should because htey are labor intensive

                            4. Beantown- Do you want a recommendation on Cape Cod?

                              1. Tony's on Wollaston Beach draws "clamhounds" from all over greater Boston and beyond. Had fried clams there at the very end of last season, and they were very good.

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: CocoDan

                                  I was at Woodman's last weekend. Big belly clams, no sand or grit. Tried their "famous" clamcakes, almost gagged so greasy, no discernable clams anywhere to be seen. Onion rings also had that too much grease mouth feel, didn't eat those. Turner's seafoord Grill in Melrose has really good fried seafood and the best onion rings around. Crunchy, oniony and not greasy. Turner's is not a clam shack though.

                                  1. re: CocoDan

                                    Had the fried clams last week at Tony's and they were outstanding!! Ditched work at noon, grabbed an order of clams and onion rings, sat out on the deck and enjoyed the afternoon! Can't think of anything better!

                                    1. re: Pegmeister

                                      I've asked this before, but what's the word on Tony's vs. the Wollaston Clam Box? Is there a big difference. I can never remember which is which and it seems like one's slightly cheaper than the other. May be no discernible difference.

                                      1. re: Joanie

                                        My experience is that Tony's is far superior....cleaner oil and less greasy.

                                  2. Anyone ever been to that Clam Shack right on Main St. in Kennebunkport? I had nice clams there and a great fried shrimp sandwich last summer. I think about it often. One of those perfect summer afternoon meals.

                                    1. Just had a day of "beginning of summer eatin'" Hubby and I started with steamers, and big boy lobsters (3.5 lbs) at Chauncey Creek lobster co. in kittery, ME. All very cooked perfectly and very yummy, plus what a great day to sit by the water and watch the baby goslings play. We then stopped at the Clam Box in Ispwich for a large box of whole clams (Wow, clams are getting so pricey! 21.50 for a lg box). They were big, beautiful and perfectly fried. We had a Woodman's/Clam Box head to head a few years back and Clam box won, hands down, so we always go there. Only bad thing was the long wait - about an hour from getting in line, to clam in my mouth.

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: gltsoi

                                        Chancey Creek AND The Clam Box in the same day?
                                        I stand in awe and green-eyed jealousy!

                                        1. re: Harp00n

                                          I have to agree - you sure know how to kick off the season!

                                        2. re: gltsoi

                                          That is a great season-opening story (rearranging my schedule this week as a result). BTW you'd get half as many clams at Woodman's for that price, which I consider to be quite good for the large box at ClamBox.

                                        3. We went to Bubbling Brook in Medfield for my first time on Saturday. It was nice to be outdoors, and DH and I split a $21 clam dinner. The clams were underwhelming. The clam-belly taste was a bit faint and the clams had too much oil remaining. The fries were slender but a bit undercooked. Coleslaw was decent but served in a tiny cup. The positives were that there was no line and we happened to be in the neighborhood anyway. Not a destination spot but possibly adequate if you live nearby and get a craving...