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FrIed belly clams and steamers recommendations in DC area

  • m

These are one of the foods I miss most after my move to CA- they just don't ship well. I'm in the Tyson's area for a few days but will drive for good clams. I wasn't thrilled with Legal Seafood's last time I was here. Recommendations?

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  1. Freddy's Lobsters and Clams in Bethesda. A true NE-style clam shack.

    3 Replies
    1. re: DanielK

      New England would never accept the blame for Freddys. A recent Saturday lunch included a miniscule basket of shreds and pieces of fried clams (certainly not whole belly), for the outrageous price of $18.95. I think nine (9!) less than perectly fresh but much more than perfectly cooked Steamer Clams for $9.95. A bowl of lobster bisque that was 100% inedible for comparatively cheap price of $6.50. And a pretty good Lobster Roll for the pretty unreasonable price of $19.95.

      Oh well, at least the beer was kinda cold.

      1. re: Pappy

        Wow, that's terrible, Pappy. It's been months since I've been there, but my last visit was an overflowing container of perfectly fried bellies, and an expensive but outstanding lobster roll.

        And one of the, if not the, best beer lists in MoCo.

      2. re: DanielK

        Blech, couldn't disagree more. A waste of time and money from my experience.

      3. It doesn't get the attention it used too but Kinkead's in the complex at 2000 Pennsylvania Ave. NW still has great fried belly clams. . . . Some of the best I've ever had. Kinkead's is a New Englander so he knows what he is doing.

        Call ahead to make sure that they have them though, it would suck to make the trip for naught.

        2 Replies
        1. re: drewpbalzac

          Oh yeah sit at the bar - the formal dining room is too much for just the belly clams. . .

          1. Check out Ford's Fish Shack in Ashburn. Not too far from Tysons -- take the toll road to the Greenway to the Loudoun County Parkway exit. Boom, you're there!

            It's a madhouse on the weekends -- they're opening another location near me, in South Riding, which should help -- so going during the week would seem like a good idea.

            6 Replies
            1. re: Bob W

              I haven't been to Ford's, but Ashburn is NOT "not too far from Tysons". In ideal conditions, it's 30 minutes, and anytime around weekday afternoon rush hour, it's 60-90.

              1. re: DanielK

                30 minutes around here is "not too far." Other than afternoon rush, it's an easy drive.

                Also, the OP said "he would drive for good clams."

              2. re: Bob W

                Just had Ford's today for lunch. Holy Moley! Wow.

                It's what I expected in terms of "what" they serve. Fried baskets, I had heard about the lobster rolls already, and a few other dishes. It was that and a little more by the menu, but holy cow was the execution just shy of perfect!

                Started mild with steamed shrimp. Healthy, and nice sized. Shell on, and I liked that they give you butter and seasoning options on the side and you season to your liking..

                Caeser salad was only okay. On again off again as to whether they served it with anchovies. Final reply is that they do, but they hadn't received a shipment yet (?). The lettuce and croutons were good. Cheese was average. Dressing was good but glopped a bit at the bottom of the bowl.

                Then the main dishes for us (again lunch). I was there with my Mom and we split the CT style lobster roll, substituting the fries with mashed. We also got a basket with fried clams and oysters and grilled scallops.

                The clams were above average. The scallops were cooked PERFECTLY. However they were overly seasoned. I actually can't remember when I've had a more perfectly cooked scallop.

                The oysters. I have been trying to remember all day when there was a comparable. There was in the past few years but I haven't placed it. They were awesome! I can't say more than that. Plain and simple.

                Smaller place than I expected. There is usually a wait (we lucked out by minutes if not by seconds). Our server was tremendously good, but the whole staff was top notch.

                Basically they've struck the chord that the whole region is missing outside of maybe the GAR places. Good solid food very well done at a decent price point and a good atmosphere delivered above par.

                Go. Or, don't. Cuz I'm going back.

                1. re: Dennis S

                  Hi Dennis, glad you liked Ford's. They are about to open up a new location in South Riding, which should help alleviate the waits.

                  Also, did I mention that Ford's is run by GAR alums (as is the Blue Ridge Grille mini-chain).

                  My brothers Orson W and Lurker W were just up in Maine and had incredible lobster rolls, fried clams, and chowder at a little place called Fishermen's Grill in Portland. Since I won't be up that way until next summer, Ford's can certainly suffice.

                  1. re: Bob W

                    I didn't know about the GAR linkage or about Blue Ridge Grille. It might be a while before I make it to Blue Ridge. If I'm that way it's either something like Windy City, higher end like LIghtfoot, and now Ford's is going to be difficult to pass by for mid-level. Thanks for the info!

                    1. re: Dennis S

                      YW!

                      When you do make it to BRG, check out the Brentwood Salad -- that's my go-to!

              3. The oysters can be hit or miss, but I've never had bad fried Ipswich clams at Hank's Oyster Bar.

                1. Fried belly clams are available in a little bucket, with fried pickle slices, at Passionfish in Reston.

                  1. Passion fish in Reston has nice fried clams and it's close to Tyson.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Worldwide Diner

                      I like Passionfish a lot but have not been there in a while.

                      NB: Tom Sietsema seems to think it's gone downhill.

                      1. re: Bob W

                        Not that we have noticed; I think our last meal there was our break-the-fast after Yom Kippur. We hit the lunch specials a lot during summer.

                    2. We stopped into Liberty Tree on H Street last week for the first time and saw whole belly clams on the menu. I didn't get them as I was craving a pizza. Got the clam pizza. It was excellent and I'll be back for another pizza and to try their clam rolls. if anyone has had anything else there, I'd like your take.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Ellen

                        I had the clam roll. It reminded me of the clams at Legal Seafood. Adequate but nothing special. About the best you could say is that they were fried proper and crispy. The clam chowder however was a nightmare. Imagine a bowl of hot bacon ranch dressing with extra salt and nothing resembling a clam in it. Three sips and I had to send it back. It would have made an excellent hot dip for potato chips but as a chowder, it was a buttery gluey nightmare.

                      2. Black Salt in Palisades has great whole fried clams.