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Fried Clams?

I've been reading that "Ipswich" fried clams are the way to go...any suggestions in Boston for these? I won't have a car, but will have day trips to Kennebunkport & Salem & Hyannisport...I've looked at "ClamShack" in Kennebunkport, but also want to try their lobster roll & crab roll, so it might be too much!

Would like to know where you hounds think I should go for the best fried clams in Boston? We're staying at Boston Park Plaza, if that helps, the first week of July. Thanks!

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  1. Just wanted to say, we're coming from Vancouver, B.C. on the West Coast, and I've never tried any other clams but little necks in pasta "vongole" here. Would also love any other NE advice you can pass along! Thanks!

    1. Neptune Oyster in the North End of Boston has very flavorful smaller fried clams, and Grumpy White's in Quincy serves the larger ones, but I would call ahead. Hook Lobster on Atlantic Street in Boston has lobster rolls at a fair price,

      4 Replies
      1. re: chowfamily

        Thanks chowfamily, I do have Neptune Oyster on my list...we only have 5 days, and 3 day trips out, but our evenings are all free. I'm also thinking of Bartley's Burgers, Figs, Franklin Cafe, Oleana & Eastern Standard Kitchen for Brunch on the day we leave...& Great Bay for their $1 happy hour in the Island Lounge...

        1. re: ck1234

          I'm not sure if you HAVE to go on these road trips, I'd axe one of them since it's a lot of riding around and very little time actually in Boston. Maybe you've been here a bunch of times and don't need to explore the city itself. Kennebunkport is cute but it has a Rockport feel which is a lot easier to get to with no car. Whatever, your Boston choices are all pretty good and you get around to different areas of town, so it's an interesting sampling.

          1. re: Joanie

            Joanie's right, don't waste time going to Kennebunkport, buy a postcard of Walker's Point in Boston. See more easier, eat better and cheaper in Portsmouth.

          2. re: ck1234

            I would skip Figs. I've never walked out of a Todd English restaurant satisfied yet.

            I was extremely surprised at the Oyster Roll at the No Name Restaurant between Downtown and South Boston.

            No Name Restaurant
            151-2 Fish Pier, Boston, MA 02210

        2. My favorite place for fried clams is the Clam Box in Ipswich, Woodmans and Farnhams are also big there and more picturesque. You could stop on your trips to Kennebunkport or Salem if you'll have a car for those day trips (I'm not clear about if you will). In Boston Neptune does have great friend clams, and other seafood, would be my first choice. I also often go to Legal Seafood for clams and shellfish.

          1. Chow Boston conventional wisdom: Neptune Oyster is perfect, Summer Shack a tourist trap with bad food.

            My contrarian but sincerely held opinion: Neptune Oyster overpriced, pretentious, and self-conscious. Summer Shack quite good especially for New England seafood basics like fried clams. While there sample Jasper White's pan roasted lobster, one of the best dishes anywhere at any price.

            7 Replies
            1. re: Carty

              I too like the fried clams at Summer Shack. Also in Boston try Morse's Fish Market on Washington St. I haven't been but many others like it.

              1. re: chuck s

                I would skip Morse's: too much sugar in their batter, they use steamers for their fried clams, and they never remove the hinges from their scallops..

                1. re: keisaiguy

                  You're supposed to use steamers for fried clams. That is how they are made.

              2. re: Carty

                If the Summer Shack didn't regularly serve me small portions of clams, if the oysters weren't dried out, if the server didn't disappear (permanently) and have me walking about trying to get a beer, if there were even a few pieces of clam in their chowder, if the atmosphere wasn't as empty and cold as a garage in both locations, I might consider suggesting the Summer Shack for the OP.

                By contrast I've always been happy at Neptune (I don't feel self-conscious or pretentious there, but it is expensive), at Legal's I have had complaints but nothing like my experiences at the Summer Shack (I'd keep giving the Shack a try but the Back Bay location doesn't do lunch anymore...).

                1. re: steinpilz

                  Will second steinpilz on a ringing "no" for Summer Shack. Poor and overpriced food and stun-level noise do not a good dining experience make for me. Neptune Oyster isn't especially cheap, but you at least get what you pay for there in my experience.

                2. re: Carty

                  A hearty second on Jasper's pan-roasted lobster, which is worth the money and the years all that buttery sauce subtracts from your life expectancy! You can't eat ambience, so we forgave the high-school cafeteria decor. The sides can be a wonderful surprise - we had pureed parsnips that were addictive.

                3. In Salem head for Dube's Seafood on Jefferson Street for fried clams.

                  1. In addition to the Clam Box in Ipswich, I really like the Clam Box in Quincy on Wollaston Beach. It's not connected to the one in Ipswich, but the clams are always good. They constantly change the oil so you never get that horrible old oil taste. Bellys are just the right size. A bonus is that you can go across the street and sit on the wall at the beach as you enjoy them. If not, they have indoor and outdoor tables. Awesome fries, rings and cole slaw too. Tony's, a little ways down has good clams too, but I don't like their tarter suce. They make it wth Cains mayo which I don't care for. I tried Morses in the South End once...and that was too many times. The clams were clumped together and had a horrible after taste.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: catsmeow

                      Yeah, the Quincy Clam Box is an underappreciated little gem. I'm quite fond of it as well.

                      But I think as an experience, nothing can top an afternoon on Crane Beach, dinner at the Ipswich Clam Box and a nightcap sundae at the Dairy Queen a bit down the road. Why isn't it summer yet?

                      1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                        I just came from eating fried clams at the Clam Box in Quincy and I was not overwhelmed. Clams were pretty good, not great but the onion rings were like eating vaguely onion flavored bread. They were really, really bland. I added so much salt and pepper I may have a stroke in the next few days!

                        1. re: BeverlyCY

                          Did they mention where the clams had come from, given the red tide?

                        2. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                          This is a response to BFP's experience 2 above, I don't know how I dropped down here.

                          Yes!! One of my favorite summer days. Here's my favorite DQ Blizzard recipe: Have them make a chocolate chip Blizzard, be sure to have them use the cone dip for the chips, melt in your mouth goodness. the trick is to talk them into using half vanilla and half twist for the ice cream; the 1/4 amount of chocolate adds and extra greatness to the Blizzard.

                      2. Thanks everyone! Just curious, looking at restaurant menus, the price for fried clams always say Market Price. What price is that roughly?

                        2 of our day trips are by bus, and we will take the commuter train to Salem. Will not have a car at all.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: ck1234

                          If you don't have a car, the Quincy Clam Box (789 Quincy Shore Dr.) is relatively easy to get to via the T. See www.mbta.com for a subway map and trip planner widgets, but the short version is that it's about a one-mile walk from the North Quincy subway station down Billings Road to Quincy Shore Drive. That's a bit of a schlep if you're not used to walking, but hey, it'll burn off a lot of the calories you're about to consume!

                          Also, you might take the Blue Line out to Revere Beach and go to the original Kelly's Roast Beef, which is something of a local institution. Many rate their fried clams the highest in the area, although personally I'll take either Clam Box first and put Kelly's a solid third, but there's nothing wrong with the eponymous sandwich, either. The walk up Revere Beach is fun too, especially since they did some much-needed clean-up and renovation along there. The people-watching is quite good, and you get the sense of being part of the mass of humanity. (One time during World Cup 2006, Allstonian and I went to Revere Beach on a whim and suddenly found ourselves in the midst of a spontaneous samba parade because Brazil had beat Australia earlier that afternoon!)

                          1. re: ck1234

                            consider the commuter train to rockport if the weather is good. you'll find a few places walking distance from the train in the middle of town with good fried clams and very good blueberry pie. and the town is a perfect size for exploring on foot.

                            1. re: ck1234

                              ck1234, there is also another way to get to Salem. There is a 45 minute ferry ride from downtown Boston at Long Wharf, I believe. Just google the Salem ferry for their web site. It is a wonderful trip out on the Atlantic. Have a wonderfully memorable time in B'ton.

                            2. Another place I've had fried clams at a few times that have been consistently very good is The Atlantic Fish Co in Copley Sq. across from the Prudential Center on Boylston St.

                              Market price is regularly put on menus more so for lobster than clams because the wholesale price fluctuates quite a bit. Right now, $15-20 give or take is usually the range a clam plate falls in.

                              1. Any thoughts on Dube's in Salem? A friend from the area swears by them, even over my traditional North Shore favorite, the Clam Box, but I haven't been, and it rarely seems to get mentioned here.

                                6 Replies
                                1. re: MC Slim JB

                                  I just gave a shout for Dube;s in Salem this morning here, and maybe once or twice int the past. Dube's fried clams, seafood, baked and broiled seafood plates are fresh and can stand up against anybodys favorite seafood joint. Dube's is worth the visit for a great sized portion of fresh seafood. It's always loaded with friendly locals...casual fun atmosphere. I don't get there as often as I used to, but I make a point getting there a coulpe times a year. Even though the Clam Box is closer to me, I'd rather go to Dube;s for fried clams.

                                  1. re: Infomaniac

                                    Incidentally, I gave Dube's a try, and was mightily impressed. Great atmosphere -- they clearly haven't remodeled since it opened in 1961 -- and very friendly service and locals, kind of off the track in a residential neighborhood in Salem. Huge plate of biggish, very nicely-fried whole Maine clams. I'd love to go back some time when I can stay and pour down a pitcher or two and watch the game. Just a cool, old-timey, neighborhood kind of place.

                                  2. re: MC Slim JB

                                    was there a couple of months back and i can't say they're doing anything spectacular as far as the fried food goes.

                                    1. re: ScubaSteve

                                      They haven't done anything spectacular for over 40 years, but they are the best place in Salem for fried clams.

                                      Wait a minute...Bob's Famous Fried Clams of Salem just opened up again....right across the street on Highland Ave. from their old location.

                                      1. re: Infomaniac

                                        They did/??? That would be the Wal-Mart Plaza area?

                                    2. re: MC Slim JB

                                      I went to dube's once years ago before I was really into fried clams and got a nice baked haddock and some awesome fried shrimp. The clams looked huge.

                                    3. I would never have believed it if a friend hadn't taken me there, but the Seawitch Seafood restaurant on Route 1 in Peabody has decent fried clams and lots of other seafood options (It's next to a fish market) as well as lobster specials.

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: cbgoldstein

                                        I went to Seawitch for the first and definitly the last time a few months ago. One of the top WORST meals I've ever had...and that was after a 2 hr wait to be seated, I was with a few ohers. Everything was pretty bad from over fried clams to rubbery lobster to soggy fries. Really bad. None of us even bothered taking anything home.

                                        1. re: cbgoldstein

                                          I'd be interested to hear how recently you've been there. We were fans a few years ago but haven't been there since the ownership changed and the CH reviews went downhill about 2 years ago.

                                          1. re: Chris VR

                                            I think it was at the end of Oct. Not only was the meal bad, but while we waited, I went into the market and bought a few prepared items to take home. I got a ready to heat scallops pie and a lobster pie. Both were horrible!

                                        2. ck1234.

                                          I've tried a few seafood shacks/stands in Kennebunkport and the best one is The Clam Shack. My first trip to Maine, on the first day sightseeing, I passed the Clam Shack and decided to stop, approximately 4:00 PM. There was a line of about twenty people in front of me and when I got to the front of the line, the Counter Person told me they were closed. Naturally, I told them I ha been waiting in line for an hour, but they told me closed at 5:00 PM, Sorry. I was a little perturbed and annoyed.....but I went to another stand without a line and got some mediocre fried seafood. Anyway, two more days of passing this stand and there was always a line.....Normally I would never try to go to a place where I was treated so badly, but on the fourth and last day of my stay, we passed the stand and there was no line. I bit the bullet and went to The Clam Shack again. I ordered the clams , oysters and scallops..........possibly the best fried seafood I have ever had......including all the popular ones in the Northeast corridor from Maine on down through New Jersey.

                                          If you pass on the Clam Shack you will have missed some great Fried Belly Clams.......BTW, I would expect them to be more expensive than you would normally believe them to be. I would say in today's market they should cost in the neighborhood of $15.pp-18.00 per order. I know that seems expensive, but they are so much better than the ordinary Fried Clam Strips. The Belly Clams are pure sweet delights.

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: fourunder

                                            Thanks fourunder, I guess I will stick to my first instinct & try the clams there! From the reviews I've read/seen, I'll now have to order a lobster roll, a crab roll, clam chowder soup, & fried clams! Sounds like it's going to cost a small fortune too! My son & I should be able to polish it all off on the bus trip back to Boston! :-)

                                            1. re: ck1234


                                              Make sure you eat the Fried Foods first........they don't travel well.

                                          2. On your way back from Kennebunkport, stop in Ipswich, MA and go to the Clam Box or Farnham's in Essex. Both are on rte. 133.

                                            1. Why waste all that gas money heading up to the north shore when you can just head to Moultons in Medford for the best clams ever and a price that won't break the bank (or your gas tank!)...

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: MeffaBabe

                                                Yes! You took the words out of my mouth. Love the clams there - can hardly bring myself to order anything else. And when I'm wanting a (slightly) smaller portion, the clam roll is perfect.

                                                1. re: MrsCheese

                                                  Just had to report that I had the fried clams at Moulton's last night and they were HUGE. They really hit the spot (especially since I'm supposed to be on Weight Watchers right now). Their cole slaw is awesome too, and I'm really picky about cole slaw.

                                              2. For actual fried clams at reasonable prices *in* Boston, Royal Roast Beef in East Boston (near Orient Heights T station) is the place. Not necessarily clams from Ipswich (the supply of which is pretty low compared to the demand, especially in the warmer half of the year).

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: Karl S

                                                  Just tried these based on your recommendation and they're outstanding. Options of "clam strips" or "clams" - the clam strips were perfectly seasoned and fried and quite fresh. The clam strip roll ($6.95) comes with a mountain of clam strips on a forgettable hot dug roll and a mountain of fries. Simply the best "clam strips" I've ever had - thanks! (I've had better clam bellies, but I just didn't feel like them today and was more the pleasantly rewarded; the "clams" may be outstanding as well.)

                                                  The clam chowder is forgettable, but served it purpose of warming me up on a cold day.

                                                2. If you make the trip to Quincy, make sure you go to Tony's on Wollaston Beach. It's the real deal. The best fried clams since 7E's and Wrye's. You won't be disappointed.

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: CocoDan

                                                    Has Tony's opened for the season yet. The last time I drove by I noticed that the Clam box was open but it didn't look like Tony's was.

                                                    1. re: Pegmeister

                                                      It was open yesterday~!!!! Yipee

                                                  2. Hi,

                                                    I do agree with the suggestion of Tony's on Wollaston Beach, which is my go-to place during the summer for fried clams, clam fritters and other assorted cholesterol nightmares.

                                                    However, in downtown Boston area (and I'm going be whacked for this, I'm sure), my contrarian view is that No-Name has excellent fried clams and fried fisherman's platter. When I go there, I always have a bowl of fish chowder and the fried fisherman's platter and it never disappoints.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: mwk

                                                      Tony's is good and I frequent the place often because it's close to where I live. However, I don't think it's in the top tier (Clam Box, Woodman's, Farnham's). I prefer Yankee Seafood's clams over Tony's. Tony's is like most places in Quincy, just OK.

                                                    2. Ceal's, as I said doesn't open until Memorial Day weekend. They are usually open by 11:00am and close around 9:00-10:00pm (depending on the weather) Also you can get a burger or something like that (to be honest, I don't ever get anything but the clams, scallops or lobster roll, so I'm not really sure. I'm counting the days til Memorial Day!

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: mikdoh

                                                        strange, during the summer i can almost certainly remember going by there around 2-3 in the afternoon only to find it closed. i thought they opened around 4pm or so.

                                                      2. In Hyannis, go to Cooke's, there are no better clams on the cape. They are up there with the Clam Box in Ipswich.

                                                        5 Replies
                                                        1. re: pelletman

                                                          Really? We tried Cooke's a few weeks ago when we were down for a few days and thought it was just ok. Even the clam chowder was a bit too much cream and not enough clams/potatoes.

                                                          Is the red tide over? Maybe they were using frozen ones...

                                                          1. re: Spike

                                                            yes, it is still in effect:

                                                            and with the recent heat there was talk of a substantial increase in the bloom.

                                                            1. re: ScubaSteve

                                                              More big and juicy ones for the off-season fanatics!

                                                              1. re: ScubaSteve

                                                                Just as an aside question...once the red tide alert is past, how long does it take for the clams to be rid of that noxious stuff? When can we expect to have local whole belly clams again? It seems to change from year to year.

                                                                1. re: Gio

                                                                  I feel that Cooke's doesnt touch what the North Shore places (Clam Box, Farnhams and the like) have to offer. If you are in the city and dont mind paying the money have the clams and fries at Neptune.

                                                          2. Okay on the cape for a bit and on a cloudy day hit Chatham in order to satisfy the SO and her sister's desire to go into stores that smell like somebody's grandmother's poupourri with lots of pink seashell / mermaid / lobster crap.

                                                            I bought myself a shirt that said wicked pissah.

                                                            To cut to the chow chase. Best frickin' fried clams I've had in a while at the Chatham Squire.


                                                            Spot on perfect. Waiter tried to talk me into strips "the ones with bellies are kinda gooey." Ya right kiddo.

                                                            10+ on the fried clams. Cannot be improved upon. Fries were solid. Slaw was average. Who gives a crap about the slaw? srsly?

                                                            Portion, for $21 was verging on very large. No complaints there.

                                                            The SO ordered some garlic marinated then deep fried shrimp abomination. I was horrified. Guess what, it was ffing delicious too. It was the special of the day, and at $11 a serious bargain. They must have marinated the shrimp first then given them a slightly different (herby?) coating and another superb fry job.

                                                            The clams also passed the "hour later" test. No nasty fry job stomach gurgles after the fact.

                                                            Those clams rock. I want more NOW!

                                                            The waiter and the proprietor made it VERY clear that they take the food seriously. Wonder how the burger is.

                                                            Ambience is "beat on Cape Pub" with goofy license plates on the wall. This was in the bar. The resto looked a smidge more polished.

                                                            Yum, did I mention I want more NOW!

                                                            3 Replies
                                                            1. re: StriperGuy

                                                              Love the Squire for fried clams. If you're still in the area you really need to try their fried oysters! It's a fun place to hang out in the evening for drinks especially if they have live music.

                                                              1. re: Pegmeister

                                                                Shhh!! The line is way too long as it is! ;-)

                                                                The fried oysters are great. Lots of places get sloppy with the batter and you get a fried oyster that 1/3 oyster, 1/3 fried batter, and 1/3 soggy undercooked batter. The Squire gets it right.

                                                                1. re: emannths

                                                                  Definitely the Squire. I've been to Cape Cod many times and went to the Squire.

                                                            2. I had fried clams at the recently re-opened Fresh Pond Seafood in Arlington, and they were better (fresher taste, bigger bellies) than the clams I spent an hour waiting for at the Clam Box. Next time I'll skip the line and the drive.

                                                              9 Replies
                                                              1. re: bobot

                                                                How much were they? I'm dying for fried clams, but not sure if I want to splurge the calories - yet. I'm on a roll (w/no clams, lol - sorry, bad pun). But this is oh-so-close to me!

                                                                1. re: threedogs

                                                                  the fried seafood at Kimball's ice cream in Westford or Lancaster is surprisingly good. Huge portions too. I have not had the clams but they seem to be a popular item and they look great...

                                                                  1. re: threedogs

                                                                    I just got a clam roll and didn't eat the bread. I think it was $13. A box is $18-$20, which is in line with other places.

                                                                  2. re: bobot

                                                                    Ooh! Thanks for this, bobot. I posted an inquiry upthead.

                                                                    I really like the big bellies (yes, gooshy, gross some people out). Would you say these are as big as the Clam Box big bellies, or just larger than CB's "regular" bellies?

                                                                    Clam Box
                                                                    789 Quincy Shore Dr, Quincy, MA 02170

                                                                    1. re: sablemerle

                                                                      I haven't had the big bellies at the Clam Box- whenever I ask for them they say they are out, even if the board says they have them. They are bigger than the regular bellies.

                                                                      Clam Box
                                                                      789 Quincy Shore Dr, Quincy, MA 02170

                                                                      1. re: bobot

                                                                        seems like you have to get there early and they are sublime!

                                                                        1. re: bobot

                                                                          I've had them several times, they're excellent. Got to get there a bit early as they usually run out quickly.

                                                                          1. re: treb

                                                                            I like the big ones, so the first time I visited a couple of years ago, I ordered them - didn't seem all that fresh - they were gamey/farmy tasting. Probably just the luck of the draw that day, but it has prevented me from ordering them again.

                                                                          2. re: bobot

                                                                            Out of 4 trips i've made to the clambox, they have never had big bellies. Their "regular" bellies were disapointely small. Look forward to trying fresh pond.

                                                                            Ipswich, Ipswich, MA

                                                                      2. Stopped by Courthouse Seafood Restaurant for the first time in years the other day. Had a clam strip roll (not a fan of bellies) and it was fantastic. $6 ish bucks with fries!

                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                        1. re: somerville01

                                                                          Just got back from the clam box in Ipswich - they are currently adding a surcharge to clam plates/boxes - $4 extra for clam plates/boxes and $2 for combos/mini meals. $25 for a clam plate with 2 sides. I usually only eat them once or twice a year, so forked over the money without thought.

                                                                          As always, an impeccable fry job - not greasy and not too much coating. I got the big bellies and they were better tasting than the last time I got them. But for some reason, I'm always a little let down by the blandish flavor of the clams here - they were a bit better with a little salt and lemon though. I need to do some discovery on my own, around the boston area and on rte 133 - right after my doctor's visit next month. ;-)

                                                                          They seem to be doing more call-in orders than counter orders - which they were very slow - I was only 3 deep in line at 11:30 today and it still took 10 minutes to order (then another 20 to get the food) - not complaining about only 30 min. wait for food at the clam box, but I am starting to think that phoning in your order on the drive up is the way to go in case there is a line.

                                                                          1. re: LStaff

                                                                            A lot of people in the know, phone in to avoid the lines. I'm the same, I only eat them a few times in the summer, so I splurge and do not pay attention to the cost. Good thing that TCB is always delivering generous portions. I believe TCB intentionally allows for personal taste seasoning, lemon salt etc, rather than them seasoning and then the individual adds more ususally before tasting them. I'd rather add to my taste. BTW - those onion rings are totally addictive as well.

                                                                            1. re: treb

                                                                              I thought the o-rings were just ok- they didn't have any of that caramelized onion flavor when the onion gets exposed to the hot oil that I like with that style of ring. And although I understand the reasoning behind lack of seasoning with the clams, I would prefer some with the rings. Slaw was pretty good though and a great foil to the fried food - it had a strongish white pepper flavor which I am a sucker for. My 2.5 yo enjoyed her hot dog - and the rings, but wouldn't try the clams. Overall, a good experience, but not great.