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Authentic waterfront seafood experience


I have friends visiting me in Nashua around mid-March. They are from Iowa and one of the things I wanted to do for them was to take them out to a seafood place that is on the waterfront for the whole authentic/fresh seafood experience. Open for both lunch and dinner right now as we dont have plans made for what they would like to do during their time here.

I know March is definitely offseason but if the place has at least an option of outside seating that would be awesome. I do know that my friends are big fans of the "hole-in-the-wall" shack kinda place than fancy restaurants but i am thinking a budget of 50-75 per if the place warrants it.

Any suggestions? Thanks a bunch....

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  1. How about the Barnacle in Marblehead?
    781) 631-4236

    141 Front St
    Marblehead, MA 01945

    2 Replies
    1. re: Gin and It

      You can not get any closer to the water than the Barnacle, unless you are on a boat. In warm weather, you can sit on a balcony that hangs over the harbor's edge. Great friend seafood

      1. re: Gin and It

        Growing up right near the Barnacle this is always my go to place. The food and the view is great. Just hope for a warmer spring day and maybe you can eat outside.

        1. Thank you for the suggestions .. I would love to hear about other spots if someone could recommend. Thanks again

          1. Boston doesn't really have "seafood shacks" but Jasper White's two Seafood Shack restaurants would be a place for you to look at - one is in Cambridge, the other near Hynes Convention Center downtown. Other good seafood places in Boston include Legal Seafoods (one is by the Harbor but it's not really a shack), Neptune Oyster, B&G Oyster, Kingfish Hall and maybe Durgin Park (at Quincy Market).

            4 Replies
            1. re: steinpilz

              I would avoid the Jasper White's -- the food is quite good, but the ambience is ... annoying, loud, too large. And not authentic waterfront feel.

              1. re: Avid Rita

                I agree that the ambience is bad, and it certainly isn't waterfront, but the food isn't terrible. Just offering it up as the OP asked for more suggestions.

                1. re: steinpilz

                  Agree, Steinpilz, no burn intended. My experience with the food is that it is very good indeed. And it's a mile from my house. Which makes it frustrating to me that the ambience is so jarring. The food at the places I mentioned ranges from good to mediocre at best, I'm just thinking of Iowa, and looking for that New England salt-air experience.

                  1. re: Avid Rita

                    You know, what's funny is, the (as someone else described it) "Disney-fied" look of Summer Shack might actually appeal to out of towners who might not have the time to head up to the real thing. Yeah, it's a manufactured experience, but if you've never seen the real thing and don't realize what a knockoff it is, you might think it's a fun environment if you're looking for that sort of thing. And I agree, I think you can have a good meal there.

            2. Sail Loft and Barking Crab are 2 seafood shacks in downtown..not the best food in town but passable.

              1. Several places in Boston with good seafood and Waterfront views are the Chart House, Anthony's Pier 4 and the Daily Catch (at the Courthouse).

                1. Tough time of year. But if you are determined, and coming from Nashua, I'd consider heading over to the Portsmouth/York/Kittery area, not too bad a drive and a real sense of New England coast.

                  In Portsmouth, the old standby is Warren's http://www.lobsterhouse.com/, but there are lots of places with good seafood, and historic Portsmouth is distinctively ye olde Newe England for Iowans to stroll around in.

                  Cape Neddick Lobster Pound is on the coast just north of York, ME, another old stand-by, great coastal drive as well, lighthouses at Cape Neddick and York.

                  I'm sure they'd love the food in either of the above, but I am a little fussy. I'd prefer Bob's Clam Shack for the food, although the location on Rt. 1 is very .... Rt. 1, if you know what I mean. Still, a very short hop to the real shore. http://bobsclamhut.com/

                  Less shack, and more upscale is the York Harbor Inn: http://www.yorkharborinn.com/ and also upscale and very cool is Lydia Shire's new place on Short Sand's is Blue Sky on York Beach http://www.blueskyonyorkbeach.com/ind...

                  The other thought that comes to mind is more of the working harbor theme, take Rt. 3 down to Rt 128 north out to Gloucester/Rockport, or even Essex (best clams, but atmosphere is subtller salt marsh feel).

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Avid Rita

                    yes I have only lived here for 2 years (from Iowa myself too) and March is still not yet there for outside dining. I guess I should modify the post to read an ocean view if not outside seating. I know the food will have them floored (was never a seafood fan till moved here) but kinda going for a well rounded experience.

                    Curious now... I dont know what is "...very Rt 1". Care to explain please?

                    1. re: ne_cyclone

                      Oh, you should make a point to check out Route 1 sometime! It's classic American car-oriented commercial strip, lots of traffic, lots of big signs. There's some interesting Americana to be found (the famous Hilltop Steakhouse in Mass. with the life-sized plastic cows and neon cactus). In the southern Maine area you will find the Kittery Outlets -- true shopping mania, and since I'm a non-shopping type I avoid it like the plague, but my visitors often love checking it out. The folks from Iowa might truly love that, along with Bob's Clam Shack (which really is very very good), the quick drive down towards York Beach with the photogenic Nubble Lighthouse at the point on the end could round out the day. Even York Harbor with some of the old historic Big Houses. You could keep driving a short way north and see Ogunquit, and even Kennebunk where you could find the Bush family compound. There's some really fine nature walks nearby, but probably not for a March visit. All in all, a lot of decent options for what you seek in March.

                  2. It's not waterfront in the sense of it being ON the water, but the Clam Box on Route 1A in Ipswich is the canonical Massachusetts clam shack, and unlike many such places, it's open by mid-March.

                    1. My favorite place for the seafood shack experience in winter is Brown's Lobster Pound in Seabrook, NH. It's open all winter on weekends.

                      Brown's definitely has the hole-in-the-wall shack experience you're looking for. Basic fried seafood. Live lobsters that go from the tank to the mesh bag and into the seawater boiler. You place your order at the counter, get your little wooden paddle with your number, then go find a table in the dining hall overlooking the marsh. Your lobster gets served up in a paper bowl with plenty of melted butter on the side. You order your steamers separately in the dining hall.

                      Food is basic, well prepared and very tasty. Very authentic experience. One caution -- no alcohol license. It's BYOB and most people show up with a cooler of beer -- some with their own wine and glasses.

                      Place gets packed in the summer but this time of year it's not too bad. There's a competing lobster pound, Markey's, right across the street. Not quite as good IMHO.

                      7 Replies
                      1. re: mmmpointy

                        look it may not best the best but its good
                        and this may sound off the wall but it is really fun for lunch
                        go to kelly's on the beach in revere order up clam chowder. fried clams or lobster roll are optional, the prices are a bit cheaper (for the most part) than the sit down places . sit on the wall watch the tide and the people walking the beach
                        i will phrase it this way " it's a bums night out" fairly cheap sittin out in the open, hey with a couple of close friends or family good conversation you make your own good time and with the above people the cold won't be that much of a problem

                        1. re: foodperv

                          Although if you do this, you should be aware that in mid-March, chances are about 80% that sitting on the wall at Revere Beach will be an exercise in windburn and misery.

                          1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                            he he ... these are people from windswept Iowa and I can always blame the cold on "tourist luck".
                            The place sounds like a historic and well received joint. Thanks.

                            1. re: ne_cyclone

                              Another option if you want to head in that direction would be to check out Belle Isle Seafood in East Boston, which has been spoken well of here. Not sure about the view though...

                              1. re: Chris VR

                                belle isle is the best around for fried fish or lobster rolls made to order. right next to the bridge into winthrop, gives you the atmosphere you want and its close in to boston. great food

                              2. re: ne_cyclone

                                It's the best! Get the chowder and the lobster roll and someone should also get a fried seafood platter.

                              3. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                                there are select days in mid-march that are lousy but in gen it ain't as bad as you would think

                          2. How about Woodmans's in Essex. They are situated out on the Essex River "delta". I cannot recall whether the upper deck is enclosed, but if so, it offers a nice view of the local terrain

                            121 Main St, Essex, MA 01929

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: neil

                              Woodman's is the iconic for lobster in the rough and clams for generations. It's location is also good for folks interested in cruising the antique shops in Essex village. But for both food and atmosphere, my personal favorite is a little further down the road to Farnham's. It's a rural feeling site right on the salt marsh, picnic tables outside there if the weather cooperates; absolutely my choice for fried clams. But there are no absolutes in that regard, it's all personal, and it's all been debated on these boards many times before, including at these links:


                            2. Thank you all for the suggestions and recommendations - with the weather playing cold and mean last weekend, I and my midwestern friends did a quick couple of hours in Kittery and then went on to Cape Neddick Lobster Pound for lobster. Needless to say my friends were very impressed - perfect shack atmosphere. Barking crab was our dinner destination in Boston and it was quite touristy - not that i mind personally. I could pick some accents from the tables around us.
                              I lucked out in Newport RI on Sunday when we got to the Mooring for lunch and that was really great. Now that I have all these recommendations, I think summer will be the time to go around and help myself to some great food. Thank you all for your help.