HOME > Chowhound > Greater Boston Area >
Brewing beer, curing meat, or making cheese? Share your food adventure

Really truly great bowl of chowder?

DonnaG Oct 29, 2007 12:17 PM

I have a friend coming in from Texas. He's especially looking for a great bowl of New England chowder while he's here visiting. It seems like chowder is served everywhere, but he's only got a few days here, and I want something really outstanding. Do you have a can't go wrong recommendation?

  1. r
    redjustinsox Dec 11, 2007 09:32 AM

    The chowder at kingfish hall is really good. Its not to thick and its always fresh. its definately better than legal's.

    1. m
      madcow Dec 4, 2007 05:28 PM

      Last weekend I tried the clam chowder at Matt Murphy's in Brookline Village. It had three real clams and smoked salmon and was quite good. It was thick but I loved it. Perfect for that first really cold day of the year.

      1 Reply
      1. re: madcow
        treb Dec 8, 2007 07:14 AM

        I like the Lite Chowder at Legal's, it's very brothy and not gloppy.

      2. b
        Bostonbob3 Dec 4, 2007 01:23 PM

        Agree with Neptune. Also like KingFish's version.

        1. MC Slim JB Dec 4, 2007 01:15 PM

          I think the clam chowder at Neptune is fairly amazing -- they use a clam stock for more concentrated clam flavor. I'm also fond of the chowder at Green Street, which is basically a corn chowder with fried clams added to it, so it's got the flavors of corn chowder, clam chowder, and fried clams in one go. Both versions don't appear to use any starch thickening, just clear broth lightened with a little whole milk or cream. (I really hate the gloppy stuff that gets served at most places.)

          1 Reply
          1. re: MC Slim JB
            Joanie Dec 11, 2007 05:06 AM

            That Green St. chowder is amazing. Don't plan on eating much else if you have a full bowl of that.

          2. Infomaniac Dec 4, 2007 09:51 AM

            The Causeway Restaurant - Gloucester, MA

            2 Replies
            1. re: Infomaniac
              Admiral Ackbar Dec 11, 2007 01:19 PM

              Plus, since its the Causeway, you'll probably get several gallons of it for on the order of $3 (if you haven't been their portions are gigantic).

              1. re: Admiral Ackbar
                Infomaniac Dec 11, 2007 01:51 PM

                I agree....I was struggling to find some potatos in the chowder there was so much fish in it. Their cup size is a deep bowl. Go hungry.

            2. m
              mwk Nov 2, 2007 07:07 AM


              Well, if the discussion has broadened out to include fish chowder, in addition to the usual thick clam chowder, I'd have to stick my neck out and recommend NoName's fish chowder. It's fresh, simple, and delicious. Lots of white fish, in a cream base with little or no flour thickening, and just a dollop of butter on top to give it some richness.

              As for the more stereotypical clam chowder, Legal's is good, and Durgin Park has an excellent version as well. Atlantic Fish Company also does a nice version.

              1 Reply
              1. re: mwk
                heWho Dec 4, 2007 09:35 AM

                Not in Boston, but the best fish chowder I've ever had was at the Sole Proprietor in Wrocester. Big hunks of fish, great density to the creamy broth, just an amazing bowl of chowder

              2. c
                catsmeow Nov 1, 2007 07:26 PM

                My favorites art Great Bay, a restaurant in Scituate Harbor(I think it's the Mill Wharf?) and Legals. In that order.

                1. CocoDan Oct 30, 2007 12:02 PM

                  I agree with the bizzaro vibe at "Turner's", but I have to give it my vote for thr best chowder. Also, I've never been disappointed in their raw bar. And, I'd say they have some of the cooooldest drafts in town. Goes real good with the chowder and raw bar!

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: CocoDan
                    C. Hamster Oct 30, 2007 02:48 PM

                    Yeah but you have to sit there!

                    Last time I was there a disgruntled employee got hammered at the bar at lunchtime, refused to pay, had a loud argument with the manager, punched a waiter and left. Police were called.

                    Even without sideshows like that, the place has a certain upscale skeeviness to me.

                    I thought the chowder was just OK, but i know a ton of people swear by it.

                    1. re: C. Hamster
                      hoplover Oct 30, 2007 03:15 PM

                      That's what you call dinner and a show! Wild story c. hamster!

                      1. re: hoplover
                        jvish Nov 1, 2007 11:54 AM

                        I really feel Kellys chowder is the best around here, it is not the least bit thick so if you like the glumpy stuff (glumpy is a techincal term) you may not go for it but it is loaded with clams and has great flavor.

                  2. n
                    nasilemak Oct 29, 2007 09:08 PM

                    How does the Summer Shack and Skipjack versions stack up with the rest?

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: nasilemak
                      AnnieP Oct 30, 2007 07:35 AM

                      I think they're both decent mid-range options from what I remember. I'm pretty sure someone mentioned Kingfish Hall as having good chowder when this came up a while back, and others agreed. May want to do a search. Legal does have the light chowder available as an option for those who prefer that.

                      1. re: AnnieP
                        steinpilz Dec 3, 2007 08:43 AM

                        Can't recommend Summer Shack, gave it yet another try last week and had the chowder - creamy but only one piece of clam the size of a dime! Plenty of potatoes, potato chowder would be more appropriate.

                      2. re: nasilemak
                        C. Hamster Oct 30, 2007 08:20 AM

                        Skipjacks is pretty mediocre. Mc Cormack and Schmick is better, but Legal is better still, IMO.

                        Turner Fisheries chowder is ok, but overrated, IMO. Plus there is such a bizzare vibe in that place.

                      3. t
                        twentyoystahs Oct 29, 2007 07:35 PM

                        Kelly's is an excellent rec. A milk based chowder w lots of flavor. Unfortunately if you're looking for ambiance, you won't find it here.....there's the original takeout spot on Revere Beach and then a few other counter service spots...one on Rt 1...

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: twentyoystahs
                          Karl S Oct 30, 2007 09:53 AM

                          Kelly's is the closest to traditional around here at a reasonable price point. A lot of people assume that chain food automatically means mediocre; this is an example that disproves it (except perhaps to people who like gloppy chowder that doesn't taste much of clams).

                          1. re: twentyoystahs
                            foodperv Dec 8, 2007 01:45 PM

                            i disagree about the ambiance part
                            as long as it is not horribly cold out(below 20 deg) walking the beach with chowder in hand and a friend or two is such a great feeling

                          2. s
                            smtucker Oct 29, 2007 01:40 PM

                            Since you didn't say what kind of chowder, I will report that Legal's has the only decent fish chowder I have been able to find. As to corn chowder, I have yet to eat any in a restaurant that even comes close to what you can make at home. Since I am allergic to clams, I can't help you with this one at all.

                            [Aside] Would love to hear about other fish chowders in the area that are worth a trip.

                            6 Replies
                            1. re: smtucker
                              phatchris Oct 29, 2007 02:48 PM

                              I love Neptune but think their chowder is a rip-off at 11$, I prefer Kelly's over it for thin chowder.

                              1. re: smtucker
                                yumyum Oct 30, 2007 10:23 AM

                                Reply to your aside ... Something Savory in Arlington does a great spicy fish chowder. They also do spicy conch. You should definitely ask if they use clam broth in either due to your allergy, but they're both really worth the schlepp.

                                1. re: smtucker
                                  joth68 Oct 31, 2007 09:48 AM

                                  I really enjoyed the fish chowder I had at the no name the other day. Not too thick not too thin. Creamy and Buttery. The rest of the meal not so enjoyable(seafood plate).

                                  1. re: joth68
                                    C. Hamster Nov 1, 2007 02:14 PM

                                    I think the chodwer there is good too, but that's the only thing I'd order there.

                                  2. re: smtucker
                                    Elyssa Nov 1, 2007 02:07 PM

                                    Years ago I had an excellent corn chowder at Olives. But this had to have been 10 years ago and who knows if it's even on the menu anymore. It was so good though that I remember it.

                                    1. re: smtucker
                                      hoohah Dec 3, 2007 08:30 PM

                                      Go, go now to Lobsta Land in Glouscester right off 128. The BEST fish chowder you will ever have. Enough said.

                                    2. b
                                      bachslunch Oct 29, 2007 01:20 PM

                                      I'll agree with RoyRon if what you want is a decent thick-style clam chowder: both Legal's and Turner Fisheries do this perfectly well. I much prefer the thinner yet still cream-based type, which both Neptune Oyster and B&G Oysters do excellently.

                                      7 Replies
                                      1. re: bachslunch
                                        Zatan Oct 29, 2007 01:30 PM

                                        Ah, thanks for that. I never order chowder because I don't like the thick (sometimes gloppy) versions most places serve, I never understood how that came to be a preferred version. Any other good "thin" chowders out there?

                                        1. re: Zatan
                                          italophile Dec 4, 2007 11:20 AM

                                          Zatan, I too don't like thick, super cream-y chowder, so for a "thin" version, I think Great Bay does it right. It has a touch of bacon and topped w/ a chervil sprig that gives it a good freshness.

                                          1. re: italophile
                                            almansa Dec 4, 2007 12:42 PM

                                            I tried Great Bay's chowder at a Boston Magazine event. It was very tasty, but had a tang of creme fraiche that not everyone will like.

                                        2. re: bachslunch
                                          twentyoystahs Oct 29, 2007 01:31 PM

                                          Agree completely with bachslunch. Depends upon the type of chowdah your pal prefers. If you're looking for a really traditional thicker style chowder, than yes, Legal's is probably the way to go.

                                          1. re: twentyoystahs
                                            DonnaG Oct 29, 2007 01:35 PM

                                            I would think gluey is not what he's looking for, or me either, but not extremely thin. This is exactly the problem I'm having when I tried picking a place on my own. There are so many different kinds! I think the best guide would be flavor. So which is most flavorful? Or a bowl that doesn't skip out on the real clams?

                                            1. re: DonnaG
                                              bachslunch Oct 29, 2007 01:44 PM

                                              I've found the thinner types of clam chowder to have much more clam flavor, which the thickeners (often flour or something similar) in thicker style chowder tend to obscure.

                                              1. re: bachslunch
                                                foodie07 Oct 30, 2007 01:18 PM

                                                I agree, this may sound blasphemous, but I do not eat fish or nearly anything from the sea apart from seaweed. I have lived in Boston for many years now and had my first cup of chowder, the thicker, less clamy kind, last week and really enjoyed it.

                                                That said, I am sure that the brine-iness of the clams enhanced the flavour, making it preferrable to other sorts of chowder, at least for me.

                                                It seems to follow reason, however, that someone who enjoys seafood would prefer the thinner, more clam filled version mentioned above.

                                                Good luck!

                                        3. steinpilz Oct 29, 2007 12:48 PM

                                          I like Legal's, also John Harvard's, and Jacob Wirth's. Haven't had any of the high end stuff. ;-)

                                          1. r
                                            RoyRon Oct 29, 2007 12:40 PM

                                            As you said, in Boston it sems like every restaurant serves chowder. Two of my favorites are Legal Seafoods and Turner Fisheries in the Westin Hotel. They both serve a very good version of typical New England Chowdah. I also like the version served at Great Bay in the Commonwealth Hotel near Kenmore Sq.

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: RoyRon
                                              raddoc Oct 29, 2007 12:45 PM

                                              I was wondering who'd be the first bold one to say "Legal's", then duck and cover. You're a brave 'hound RR. I agree, though.
                                              A more PC response might be the lobster bisque at Locke-Ober, though I'm not sure that's what the OP is looking for.

                                              1. re: raddoc
                                                Luther Oct 29, 2007 01:09 PM

                                                How is lobster bisque a response to a request for NE clam chowder?

                                              2. re: RoyRon
                                                Elyssa Nov 1, 2007 02:04 PM

                                                I think Legal's has great chowder....When I lived back in Boston I would often times get their ceasar salad and chowder for lunch. Both delicious and perfectly filling.

                                              Show Hidden Posts