Readers Say

The best clam shacks in New England readers highlighted 74 clam shacks where you can get a fried seafood fix.

Enjoy a fisherman's platter at one of New England's many clam shacks. Globe Staff/Debee Tlumacki

While you travel around New England, you’re likely to stumble upon some classic clam shacks, where you can pull over to get a meal. Whether you head north to Maine or partake in what Cape Cod has to offer, New England’s clam shacks have long doled out delicious seafood, from fried clams, to lobster rolls, to plates of scallops.

“[Business] is not as busy as the summer before,” said Terry Cellucci, owner of J.T. Farnham’s. “Unlike other sit-down, fancy restaurants, we did extremely well during COVID, because it was all take-out. Our phone was ringing off the hook.”

We asked readers what their favorite clam shacks are in the region, and we received over 200 responses. You recommended 74 different spots, with J.T. Farnham’s taking the lead. We’ve put together a listing of all of these places, including some sit-down restaurants that also serve quality seafood.


Scroll down to see the complete guide to clam shacks. Then put in your order for a helping of crispy bites, sit down at a picnic table outside, and enjoy a charming outing.

5. Woodman’s of Essex

This spot in Essex, which took 4% of the vote, is said to have invented the fried clam, and readers flock to Woodman’s to taste some of its hearty fare. On the menu, you’ll find popcorn shrimp, fried lobster tails, award-winning New England clam chowder, and more. Reader Ali D. from Rowley said: “I usually order the fried seafood platter. This is light and crispy, not overly greasy. All the seafood is crisp and fresh, never mushy or soaked with grease. They have a gluten free batter which is amazing and a great option. The full bar is a plus as well.”

119 Main St., Essex

4. Brown’s Lobster Pound

In New Hampshire, you’ll find Brown’s Lobster Pound, a spot that opened in the 1950s and continues to serve classic New England seafood, with picnic tables and a waterfront deck nearby. The most popular orders, according to manager Bruce Brown. Jr., are “the seafood platter with fried lobster tail, lobster rolls, and boiled lobster,” and no meal would be complete without ice cream. Joe M. from Franklin said that he would recommend the “whole belly clam plate and fried haddock plate. Always consistent and delicious.” Brown’s earned 4% of the vote.


407 NH-286, Seabrook, N.H.

3. Bob’s Clam Hut

If you take a trip out to Kittery, Maine, be sure to stop off at Bob’s Clam Hut, which took 5% of the vote. Known for their clam chowder, lobster stew, traditional Bob’s fried clams, and Lilian fried clams — as well as their famous tartar sauce — Bob’s serves up fresh seafood, “fresh off the local docks.” Tom from Walpole said: “Bob’s Clam Hut is usually crowded, but it is well worth the wait. The seafood is fresh, and the whole belly clams are scrumptious! Lightly breaded and fried to perfection. So grab some tartar sauce and order a side of onion rings, too! The inside feels like an old vessel and provides an authentic Maine experience.”

315 US-1, Kittery, Maine

Bob’s Clam Hut, a clam shack in Kittery, Maine.

2. Clam Box of Ipswich

Thirty miles north of Boston, in the historic town of Ipswich, lies a destination for quality seafood, the Clam Box of Ipswich. The popular spot, which garnered 14% of the vote, doles out “fresh, tender, crispy clams, and plenty of them,” according to one reader. This clam shack also offers cheeseburgers, calamari, and a crab meat seafood salad roll. The outdoor patio makes for a pleasant experience, the perfect place for a “summer celebration.” Malcolm H. from Boxford said that he enjoys, “[the] fisherman’s platter, with fries and coleslaw. Full belly clams, shrimp, haddock, and scallops. Don’t forget the White Farms vanilla frappe less than a mile down the street.”


246 High St., Ipswich

1. J.T. Farnham’s

With a beautiful view overlooking the Essex River, J.T. Farnham’s is a go-to spot for many seafood lovers. The eatery handpicks fresh, local catches “for an off the boat experience” and offers dishes that either come from recipes passed down for generations or are original “inventive creations.” The fried clams, grilled or fried scallops, fish and chips, and tacos are scooped up by diners. The shack also makes a wonderful coleslaw, sweetened with pineapple. Reader Ed M. from Beverly said that he likes to get the “fried scallop plate and a box of clams. The food is perfect, and the outside tables have a view over the Essex marshes, always interesting.” J.T. Farnham’s took 15% of the vote.

“Clams are the No. 1 [seller], but they’re so expensive, and so are scallops. People love our haddock fish and chips. Another thing that we added four years ago are the fish tacos. They’re grilled, and we do a homemade pico, with aioli on it. Those are the No. 4 seller now,” owner Terry Cellucci said. “We try to do something on our menu for people who can’t afford clams. … We try to be as budget friendly as possible, but as all restaurants know, everything is up.”

88 Eastern Ave., Essex

J.T. Farnham’s is known for its delicious fried seafood. – Globe Staff/Wendy Maeda

Honorable Mentions 🏅

The Park Lunch: While more of a restaurant than a clam shack, readers praised the fried clams and scallop dinner, adding that visitors should remember to ask for extra tartar sauce. 181 Merrimac St., Newburyport

Flo’s Clam Shack: In Rhode Island, Flo’s serves a magnificent swordfish dinner and has an excellent raw bar. Enjoy your seafood with a glass of Narragansett beer. 4 Wave Ave., Middletown, R.I.

All of the best clam shacks in 2022, according to readers:

Clam shacks:

Seafood restaurants, pubs, other: