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May 11, 2010 08:02 AM

The Clam Box, Woodman's or Farnham's - which one to choose?

We are planning to combine a visit to one of the North Shore famed clam shacks with an afternoon visit to Salem, MA. Our goal is to have seafood for lunch as we are from the Midwest and we hope to find some tasty, local, fresh seafood. We are not wedded to either of those 3, but are looking for a recommendation on a clam roll of excellent value and quality in proximity to Salem. Any thoughts, hounds? Thanks!

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  1. IMO, Clam Box is the best, they change their oil twice daily. We did a crawl, going to 5 clam shacks which included Woodman's and Farnham's, 2 years ago and Clam Box blew them all away.

    4 Replies
    1. re: treb

      Ditto on Clam Box. It's the clear winner and you can't beat the building design.

      Clam Box
      789 Quincy Shore Dr, Quincy, MA 02170

      1. re: robertlf

        I know these posts are from years ago but why oh why do people on this thread keep posting the address for clam box in Quincy? This post is about being north/Salem … isn't it clear they are referring to clam box Ipswich?

        For a visitor (or newbie to the area) this is confusing. When people praise Clam Box are these locations "related" with same quality? Who on earth would drive to Quincy if they were up north?

        1. re: thimes

          People aren't (or rather weren't) intentionally posting the address of the Quincy Clam Box. That's the remains of the automatic tagging that was going on at that time, which obviously had some serious flaws.

          1. re: Allstonian

            Ahhhh thanks. I was wondering why it kept poping up on people's posts.

            Still confusing years later but at least I know to ignore it now!


    2. Yup the Clam Box is Numero Uno...but Farnhams is pretty good too with better views and outdoor in-the-rough dining.

      4 Replies
      1. re: ipsofatso

        also agree. For me it's no contest with farrhams as a distant second and woodman's not out of the gate.

        1. re: ipsofatso

          Love the big bellied clams at the Clam box. Have heard that Farnhams has great clam and seafood chowder- has anyone tried it ?

          1. re: ipsofatso

            Yup, ipsofatso has it right. . . . but I usually go to Farnhams when it is comfortable to sit at one of the outside tables. The marsh views are great and the food is still good. Overall I prefer it as a whole experience. BTW, last fall Farnhams had cod cheeks and they were absolutely the best I have ever had!

            1. re: powerfulpierre

              Cod Cheeks are die for!!!!!!!!!

          2. While I have no reason to disagree with the general comments here, I think when you go - as in time of day and time of season - also can make a difference. I went last year on a chilly May day to Woodman's and it was awesome - some of the best fried seafood I have had. I have also been to Farnham's on a busy mid-summer afternoon and it was just terrible.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Bob Dobalina

              We will be in Boston weekend of 5-22 for DD's college graduation. We have done "the historical sights" many times and never been to Salem. It might still be chilly.

              1. re: Diane in Bexley

                If it's a chilly or rainy day, check out the Village restaurant in Essex and eat inside. They do clams as well as anyone else in the area. Their fried whole bellies are really good. They have a clam roll on the menu, but I haven't had it.

                You'll hear remarks about "blue-hairs" and how going there is like a step back in time. There's some truth to both, but the clams there have always been good when I've been. As an added bonus, they offer a lot more than a hot dog, grilled cheese, or chicken fingers if you have someone with you that doesn't eat seafood.


              2. re: Bob Dobalina

                Woodman's CAN be good, just very inconsistent.

              3. I'll say Farnham's first, Clam Box second, Woodman's third. But you're not going to be disappointed with any of them.

                Also, if you're in Salem, Dube's is pretty darn spectacular as well. Get there early on friday for the fish chowder.

                10 Replies
                1. re: Fly

                  Of the 3 you mention, Farnham's is closest to Salem and Clam Box is the furthest (if that makes any difference). Farnham's also offers more menu variety (grilled fish -- a wonderful grilled haddock sandwich, lobster, etc.) than Clam Box and that's the reason I like it best since I don't like fried foods.

                  Clam Box
                  789 Quincy Shore Dr, Quincy, MA 02170

                  1. re: SEH

                    Its a wonder neither Woodmans nor Clam Box though to install a grill or a broiler.

                    1. re: SEH

                      When you say closest, is it minutes we're talking about here? From my Mapquest, it doesn't look like any of them are a huge distance (30-45 min?)

                      We were kids in the 60's and have a fondness for Howard Johnson's clam roll, which was fried clam in a split top H/D roll with tarter sauce. We were thinking one of the 3 would satisfy our craving? We are big time fressers, willing to travel for good food.

                      1. re: Diane in Bexley

                        All three will satisfy a need for a clam roll. And yeah, from Salem, any of the three is 25ish minutes away. Clam Box might be 35 minutes. Maybe. They're all the same distance.

                        1. re: Diane in Bexley

                          You could walk from Farnham's to Woodmans.

                          I've been to both of those many times, I prefer the atmosphere (and view) from Farnhams. Only been to Clam Box once, the lines were so freakin' long that I can't even remember how good the clams were.

                          1. re: L2k

                            Allow time for the Clam Box. The last time I went it was, I think, a weekend day but at some odd time like 4:30, and we waited on line for an hour. Maybe we got caught in the oil change backlog. And bring cash--every so often the in-house ATM runs out.

                          2. re: Diane in Bexley

                            If you want the real Hojo's/Friendly's experience, make sure you order Clam Strips and not whole belly clams. Those who grew up on the former do not always enjoy the latter.

                            1. re: scratchie

                              This is correct re: what Hojo's serves/served. But do NOT think that you're getting the clam shack experience with strips, either. It's a valid preference, but I don't think you should recommend that they skip what Ipswich does best.

                              Don't skip the whole clams.

                              1. re: Fly

                                I'm not *recommending* the clam strips. I'm just pointing out that someone who has a "craving" for Hojo's clams may not like whole-belly clams.

                        2. re: Fly

                          Can't say enough about Dube's in Salem. Best fried food around, great prices, chowder is awesome and the local vibe is the best. They do a phenomenal baked schrod too!!

                        3. We always always ALWAYS choose Farnhams first...Clam Box is good too but too much of a zoo for the way, the Clam Box on your Map is about an hour and a half south of the Clam Box of Ipswich!!!

                          Clam Box of Ipswich
                          246 High St, Ipswich, MA 01938