If you are what you eat, then most Cape Codders would be a clam . . . or maybe a lobster roll. It should go without saying that a land named for a type of fish would abound with opportunities to sample tasty seafood, and Cape Cod does not disappoint.
Some talented New England chefs work in high-end restaurants on the Cape, yet no-frills seafood shacks still have an undeniable appeal. Their food is authentic, their prices are pretty reasonable, and even if their decor leaves something to be desired, most serve up dishes with a side order of scenery.
Since 1976 Cap’n Frosty’s in Dennis Village has been demonstrating just how diverse the humble clam can be. Whether you have a hankering for clam chowder, clam cakes, clam rolls, fried clams, or a high-heaped clam combo plate, you will find them all at this modest spot.
There is more to the Clam Shack in Falmouth than those fresh, fat-bellied mollusks for which it is named. Killer lobster rolls, plump scallops cooked to perfection, and a lovely location right on the harbor have all helped solidify its reputation as a Cape Cod institution.
Mac’s Seafood in Wellfleet is a hole-in-the-wall take-out joint with perfect views of sailboats and fishing trawlers. For those who can’t get enough of its oysters or scallops, Mac’s also operates a sit-down restaurant nearby (Mac’s Shack), plus three seafood markets.
Kream ‘N Kone
Don’t let the name fool you. Sure the Kream ‘N Kone serves soft-serve ice cream, but the main course—in fact, the main draw—at this vintage West Dennis eatery is deep-fried seafood. Unless you’re concerned about your cholesterol, opt for the clam plate with fries and onion rings.
Sam Vecchione started a chain reaction when he opened the original Seafood Sam’s in 1974. Now with locations in Harwich, Sandwich, Falmouth, and Yarmouth, Sam’s comprehensive menu (which includes broiled seafood and salads) leaves diners clam-oring for more.
Baxter’s Fish ‘n’ Chips
Baxter’s Fish ‘n’ Chips in Hyannis has been doling out delicious short-order seafood for more than 50 years. Outdoor tables overlook the picturesque harbor, and a passageway also leads to Baxter’s Boat House Club, where the same menu is offered in a more upscale atmosphere.
Arnold’s Lobster and Clam Bar
Arnold’s Lobster and Clam Bar in Eastham is always busy—and once you see the menu, you will understand why. The standard deep-fried fare here is supplemented with shucked-while-you-wait oysters, raw bar clams, steamed lobsters, and New England "chowdah."
Photo credit: (1) iStock/PhilAugustavo; (2) iStock/PhotoRX; (3) EasyBuy4u