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Sep 26, 2008 03:33 PM

Best clam chowder in Boston?

Greetings from L.A.!

Now I know y'all eat more than chowder, but. someone on my parenting group website is asking where to find the best clam chowder in Boston, in anticipation of a visit there in a couple weeks. My guess is that this group may have more ideas than a bunch of L.A. moms.

Any recs?


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  1. Hi,

    Try Great Bay near Kenmore Square.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Guinness02122

      Even though I dislike the restaurant and most of it's dishes, I think Legal Seafoods has the best clam chowder around.

        1. re: Guinness02122

          I'll also vote for Great Bay, but with a caveat: unless they've changed the recipe recently, what they serve is far removed from what a traditionalist would call New England-style clam chowder. It's really more of a clam tartare with a super-rich clam bisque poured over it. Wonderful stuff, but possibly not what the LA mom in question is looking for.

        2. The original comment has been removed
          1. Of everything I've had at Neptune Oyster, I'd say that the chowder was the only thing I disliked. There's an off-putting crunch to it which I didn't have the interest to figure out. Maybe it's a matter of taste, but that might be the worst chowder I've ever had.

            1. re: Guinness02122

              I have to agree Guinness, I was disappointed with both the clam chowder and fried clams at Neptune Oyster. I must say the lobster roll with butter was really good though.

              1. re: callitasicit

                Definitely a matter of personal preference. Neptune does my favorite clam chowder, and I've called its fried clams the best in Greater Boston, though they're expensive. About the only thing I don't love there is that lobster roll (either version) because of that very strong-tasting grilled brioche roll.

          2. "Best" is something we'll never agree on, but there are many good ones.

            I'm a fan of Legal's chowder also.

            For a different, lighter style..Neptune Oyster is great...and a much better restaurant overall.

            A new entry for best chowder would be the newly reopened Cafe Marliave, thinner with a nice piece of pork belly..small but well chosen selection at the oyster bar downstairs.

            1. Depends on how you like your chowder, but I recently tried the chowder at Morse Fish for the first time and really liked it. Definitely creamy, not watery, but thinner - you could pour it not slice it. And tasted mostly of clams, which might seem redundant, but most chowders taste equally or much more of other things like cream, thickener or add ins like bacon. This was first and foremost clam chowder, with plenty of clams in it to go with the taste. The rare chowder I had no urge to boost the flavor with some pepper or butter or anything.

              Definitely not the place to go if ambiance matters and probably not the chowder for people who like the extra thick stuff oozing cream or with many different flavors, but the best pure clam chowder I've had recently.

              Morse Fish Co
              1401 Washington St, Boston, MA 02118

              2 Replies
              1. I think Morse has gone way downhill over the last few years, At the beginning of last summer(June '07), I got fried clams. It was one big clump of rubbery mess. I threw it out. This past summer, just because I happened to be on that block doing another errand, I gave them another chance. I got some large cooked shrimp and a small container of what they said was freshly cooked lobster. Both were horrible. The shrimp had a chemical flavor like they were getting old and the lobster tasted canned or older as well. I'll never give them a 3rd chance. Years ago they were good. Not anymore.

                1. I just had the clam chowder at Morse 2 hours ago, and found it to be consistent with Psora's above description. I loved it - didn't even need oyster crackers. Which is rare for me.

                2. My personal favorite is Neptune Oyster. It has a clear broth, non-creamy, and the stock is clam-based, so it's a one-two punch of concentrated clam flavor. Whatever is in second place is way behind in my book.

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: MC Slim JB

                    I would guess that the OP is looking for New England clam chowder, rather than RI clam chowder. I don't have a rec for the best, but I can't stand Legal's. Someone tell me where there is a thinner chowder redolent of dried thyme - that's how I like it.

                    1. re: almansa

                      Legal's clam chowder, although frequently recommended, generally leaves me cold. It always seems to have all the fat of a cream-thickened chowder, but has the consistency of flour thickening. I personally prefer the thinner, more flavorful cream chowder, but can certainly respect a well made flour thickened version. I just don't like the combination.

                      1. re: tdaaa

                        Exactly. Cream, no thickener (or maybe a touch of slurry) or flour, roux and milk. Where oh where?

                        1. re: almansa

                          I had the Chowder at Anthonys Pier 4 on Friday night- too thin for my liking (though I love the thick chowders) and had some good flavor to it- very smokey background from bacon...

                          Not sure if that is what youre looking for or not....

                          1. re: almansa

                            The one I just had at Kingfish Hall may be just cream...?

                            1. re: almansa

                              Kelly's at Revere Beach, and the best part is they don't over cook the clams (pretty sure they use sea clams, not quahoags).