Decent Fried Clams in Boston?

My family is in town for the weekend and my sister’s boyfriend mentioned last night he is trying to get a taste of the New England cuisine they don’t have back in SoCal. I know good spots for all the other foods I can think of for him to try, but I can’t think of any specific place for Fried Clams as usually I get them on the Cape or South Shore, both of which are too much of an excursion for them on this trip. Which got me thinking, I don’t really know where in the more central area of Boston or Camberville area (where I live and they are staying) has a good and not overly expensive plate of fried clams worthy of being one’s first try. I think the only place I’ve really had them around the area is Summer Shack.

They’re also thinking of renting a car to drive up to Salem, so if there’s a good spot in Salem, or somewhere in between that could work too.


Craigie on Main often has them with squid ink aioli. Otherwise Island creek oyster bar.

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Outside of the North Shore, I’d suggest Kelly’s Roast Beef (Revere Beach) or, as you say, Summer Shack.

In Cambridge, Courthouse Seafood is a good choice if you’re not looking for atmosphere. It will be a paper plate and can of soda kind of experience. Very tasty, reasonably priced. Fries are just okay.

For more of a sit-down, and obviously more expensive, experience, my choice would be Island Creek Oyster Bar in Kenmore Sq.


Second the Courthouse recommendation. They are a much better value than Island Creek and more closely approximate the North Shore/Maine clam shack experience. They serve a really good friend clam!

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3rd this. Best, non-fancy, version within Boston/Cambridge proper.

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Can’t agree more! Just remember to order the belly clams and not the clam strips. However, please note that they are not a place for a late dinner. Tuesday through Thursday they close at 7pm. Friday night they stay open all the way 'til 8pm. Saturday is earlier- 6pm. The shrimp is always fabulous, and if you arrive before the market closes, you can pick whatever fish or seafood in the case and for a small fee, they will cook it next door to order.

How are the fried clams at Yankee Lobster? I ask because these folks are visiting from out of town. I think it would be fun to at least check out the waterfront and then stop in for clams somewhere along the way rather than eating from a fish market/takeout joint (even if they are not exemplar).

i was thinking belle isle for this reason. yankee is in a pretty gross part of the seaport.

if you want to do the waterfront, you could always skip the clams and instead go get lobster rolls at James Hook and then take them out and sit in the little park near the Moakley courthouse…

I’m biased because I live on the North Shore. But the local fried clams here are amazing and the Salem/Marblehead area is wonderful day trip for way more than just the food!

Here are a few thoughts on picking a fried clam destination….

First off, they are not cheap. Not the local day boat fresh ones. Which is what makes them worth the cross country trip!

I recommend this option because you can get them in actual restaurants. An order of these delicacies is going to set you back around twenty bucks whether you are in a crowded, hot clam shack or a place where they have tables and waitstaff and beverages. Clearly, I recommend the latter!

Two casual places in Marblehead have great waterfront views: The Barnacle and the Landing. Three Cod tavern is excellent as well, but not waterfront. In Salem I can personally vouch for Turner’s and Dube’s, (not waterfront either) but there are others which can be vetted on someplace like TA. They are in the “touristy” area, but I hear good reviews.

If they decide to rent a car, I would honestly tell them to head to Marblehead first and just street park and walk around. Then head over to the Chestnut street area of downtown Salem. The best thing in Salem is the Peabody Essex Museum, which is a lot for a day trip. The second best thing is the historic district. Some of Salem is pretty touristy. That’s what one needs to avoid.

Depending on their proximity to Los Angeles, Connie and Teds, in West Hollywood, offers friend clams with bellies (I’ve not been, but the L.A. people say it’s legit):

I dunno…I like the “secretive” feel of Yankee Lobster (and Harpoon Taproom or whatever it’s called). Personally, when we travel and walk around and stumble on restaurants in unexpected places, I find that fun. Even better if they’re half-decent…Maybe it’s just me.

yankee lobster basically is a take-out joint. :slight_smile: in a very industrial area. 2nd pic is belle isle. to each his own!