The world’s your oyster at these classic New England seafood shacks.
If seafood is on your must-have list while you’re in New England, you’re in luck because this neck of the woods is chock-full of phenomenal shuck and slurp locales that shouldn’t be missed. Just keep in mind that many are open seasonally—usually closed from about October to April—so always call ahead to make sure your hopes of digging into a platter of fried seafood isn’t crushed.
Captain Scott’s Lobster Dock
WHERE: New London, Connecticut
Often touted as New London’s best kept secret, you can’t go wrong at Captain Scott’s Lobster Dock. It’s a little off the beaten route, but it’s worth the hike for their tasty Rhode Island Clam Chowder and piping hot clam fritters, not to mention a thick lobster bisque that will leave you swooning each time you think back on it.
Arnold’s Lobster & Clam Bar
WHERE: Eastham, Massachusetts
The legendary Arnold’s Lobster and Clam Bar serves up generous portions of traditional fried and fresh seafood dishes along with hearty, stuffed and baked potatoes, a raw bar, an impressively wide array of fresh salads, and baked seafood dinners.
INSIDER TIPFamilies love this local mainstay for the kid-friendly menu, as well as the on-site mini golf and ice cream stand.
Two Lights Lobster Shack
WHERE: Cape Elizabeth, Maine
You’d be hard pressed to find a more stunning view than the panorama that spills out across the ocean from this classic Maine seafood shack. Flanked by the historic twin lighthouses for which it is named, Two Lights Lobster Shack has been serving up seafood since the 1920s. Just a short drive from downtown Portland, come for the seafood, but stay for the view and steady cooing of the distant foghorn resounding in time with the crashing surf.
Flo’s Clam Shack and Drive-In
WHERE: Middletown, Rhode Island
The original Flo’s Clam Shack got its start in 1936 when Flo herself moved a chicken coop from her farm to Island Beach Park in Portsmouth and began serving up the shacks signature fresh, juicy fried clams—fried clams were a pretty new concept at that time. Over the course of the years Flo’s has been wiped out by five different massive hurricanes, but has somehow always managed to keep on trucking, serving up the same heavenly seafood that keeps locals and visitors coming back again and again. Today, Flo’s main location is the clam shack in Middletown, but the drive thru in Portsmouth still welcomes guests.
Bite into Maine
WHERE: Cape Elizabeth, Maine
Since 2008, Bite into Maine has been serving up high-quality lobster rolls—locally-sourced, never frozen meat—from their original food truck near Portland Head Light in Cape Elizabeth’s Fort Williams Park; While their traditional lobster roll is one of the best around, the contemporary takes on this classic are what make the hike out to Cape Elizabeth well worth it. Chipotle and curry mayo add a kick, while the LBT (Lobster Bacon and Tomato) sandwich is sheer unholy heaven.
INSIDER TIP In 2017, Bite into Maine opened their 12-seat Scarborough location, which is open year round.
WHERE: Newburyport, Massachusetts
Just shy of Newburyport’s historic brick streets, a trip to Plum Island isn’t complete unless you grab a bite to eat at this local favorite. Started as a lobsterman-run, local seafood market in 2001, the menu at Bob Lobster always offers the daily catch smothered in drawn butter, as well as homemade seafood pies, creamy seafood chowders loaded with fresh meat, and a to-die-for lobster mac-n-cheese.
Abbott’s Lobster in the Rough
WHERE: Noank, Connecticut
Nestled on the banks of the storied Mystic River, Abbott’s Lobster in the Rough has been serving up delicious seafood dishes since 1947. Their stuffed clams and pitch-perfect lobster rolls are legendary as is the location, so allow enough time to lounge around and take in the water views.
INSIDER TIPThe shack is BYOB. Make sure you pack your favorite bottle of wine (or 6-pack) if you enjoy your seafood with a glass of wine.
Five Islands Lobster
WHERE: Georgetown, Maine
Located on a lively working wharf overlooking Sheepscot Bay, Five Islands Lobster draws hungry folks looking for delicious seafood and stunning views, both of which the seafood shack delivers. The family-friendly atmosphere extends to the menu with standards that are sure to please the kiddos, as well as offerings for diners not entirely keen on seafood.
WHERE: Narragansett, Rhode Island
Local lore has it that this modest clam shack is where New Englanders first came up with the brilliant idea of frying fresh clams into cakes in the early 1920s. Since then, Aunt Carrie’s has been serving up seafood including traditional Rhode Island shore dinners—clam chowder, steamers, clam cakes, coleslaw, fried flounder, French fries, and sometimes a lobster for good measure.
INSIDER TIPAunt Carrie’s is one of the few Rhode Island seafood joints that still offer the classic Rhode Island Shore Dinner. It’s worth the experience, and you won’t leave hungry.
Clam Box of Ipswich
WHERE: Ipswich, Massachusetts
Since 1938, this unmistakable saltbox shack—bright, red-and-white-striped awnings and unique architectural shape reminiscent of a take away box—has been a go-to spot for locals and visitors alike. . The fried clams are an institution at the Clam Box, but you also can’t go wrong tucking into one of their yummy seafood rolls or homemade coleslaw.
INSIDER TIPHours vary and are subject to change without notice, so call ahead befor you make the trip.
WHERE: Guilford, Connecticut
Minutes off of I-95, folks flock to The Place just as much for the setting as the delicious seafood, which is cooked outdoors over roaring wood fires. Hungry visitors are invited to take a seat on tree stumps scattered around bright red round tables while taking in the clam bake vibe at this local favorite. The menu, which towers over the outdoor dining area, features roasted clams, shrimp, Bluefin fish, steak, and chicken. If you want something more than roasted corn or a veggiebob to accompany your meal, plan to bring your own sides, and adult beverages as it’s also BYOB.
INSIDER TIPYou’ll feel like you’ve been invited to a friend’s backyard clambake, which is lovely, except when the weather’s bad (ie rain). If the weather looks iffy, make sure you call ahead to see if The Place is open.
Bob’s Clam Hut
WHERE: Kittery, Maine
A trip to Maine would be incomplete without a pilgrimage to Bob’s Clam Hut with its cheery, old-school vibe. Established in 1956 on scenic Route 1, the seafood is always fresh, and the sauces homemade including their famous, tangy tartar sauce, which is best smothered over golden fried clams. Also worth ordering is some of the thickest New England clam chowder around.
INSIDER TIPIf you’re in Portland, check out their newest location on Cumberland Ave. Oh, and if you’re thinking of leaving a tip, please do. Bob’s donates tip money to local charities.
Blount Clam Shack
WHERE: Warren, Rhode Island
You can’t go wrong ordering crispy clam cakes and the decadently rich clam chowders found on the Blount Clam Shack’s menu (choose from white, red or clambake chowder). This Rhode Island favorite, which has another location in Riverside at the Crescent Park Carousel, also offers hefty, half- pound, all-lobster rolls. Both locations have superb waterfront views and often offer live music in the summer, making both perfect spots to dine on some of the freshest seafood in the area.
WHERE: Boothbay Harbor, Maine
The namesake of this pint-sized seafood shack first got the idea of setting up shop when her father posed the simple question: “Where can you buy a quick lobster roll in Boothbay Harbor?” Unable to muster an answer, Shannon’s Unshelled was born and the shack has been serving up buttery grilled buns stuffed with whole, lobsters to hungry folks in a hurry in Boothbay Harbor ever since.
Cobie’s Clam Shack
WHERE: Brewster, Massachusetts
Since 1948, Cobie’s Clam Shack has been serving delicious seafood to happy diners visiting (or living on) Cape Cod. The menu includes staples like fried clams, fried seafood platters, burgers, and hot dogs as well as ice cream.
INSIDER TIPIf you’re hitting the Cape Cod Rail Trail, plan to stop along the way for a bite, or an ice cream treat, as Cobie’s is right next to the trail.
The Highroller Lobster Co.
WHERE: Portland, Maine
Everything about this spot-on, from the friendly, laid-back service and retro-inspired design to the over-the-top takes on traditional lobster rolls and fantastic beers born of community-minded collaborations with local brewers. Served on locally baked brioche rolls and stuffed to the brim with mouthwatering local lobster, there’s not much that could make this classic better, although you might want to try adding one of their specialty sauces like the honey dijonaisse or jalapeno mayo. The “dish” not-to-miss though is the lobby pop, which is a fresh Maine lobster tail on a stick, dipped in butter…and it can be fried. If you’re still hungry, try the lobster grilled cheese or the lobster tacos.
The Shuck Station
WHERE: Newcastle, Maine
There is a lobster roll on the menu, but it’s all about the best local oysters at The Shuck Station—fried oysters, fried oyster tacos, oysters Rockefeller, oyster po’boys, BBQ oysters, and of course, raw oysters. Housed in a former gas station, This cheery seafood joint has a laid-back and family-friendly atmosphere—there is a kids menu—and numerous local beers on tap.
INSIDER TIPIf you like oysters, the Damariscotta River Region is the place to be. The river, and its estuaries, produce a crop of oysters that are world-renowned for their diverse flavors and excellent quality.
Roy Moore Lobster Co.
WHERE: Rockport, Massachusetts
Located on the southern tip of Cape Ann, the relaxed, family-centric Roy Moore Lobster Co. has fabulous views overlooking Sandy Bay and Old Harbor from every single table in the house. Generous portions of all the classic New England seafood mainstays are on the menu, but you’d do well to check out the daily specials, which usually feature contemporary takes on traditional dishes.
The Clam Shack
WHERE: Kennebunkport, Maine
With roots as far back as the late sixties, The Clam Shack in Kennebunkport continues to be known for its speedy service and great take-away fare like their traditional boiled lobster dinners or lobster rolls on freshly baked buns from a local bakery. Diners can eat on site at one of several wooden picnic tables and lobster crates that overlook the Kennebunk River. There’s even a lemonade stand to complete the experience.
INSIDER TIPIf a visit to the Clam Shack isn’t in the stars, you can order their famous Lobster Roll Kit, which ships everything you need—fresh picked lobster meat, New England hot dog rolls, mayo, and a recipe card—to prepare a delicious Maine lobster roll outside of the Pine Tree State.
Muscongus Bay Lobster
WHERE: Muscongus, Maine
There’s never really a lull at Muscongus Bay Lobster. The seaside joint draws locals and summer people who gather around sunset to chow down on delicious seafood straight from the ocean to their plates. Those in the know show up with picnic baskets filled with homemade sides and bottles of beer and wine, as well as picnic cloths to cover the tables on the deck that overlooks Muscongus Bay.
INSIDER TIPIf Muscongus Bay Lobster is full, head one dock over to the no-frills Muscongus Bay Fishermen’s Co-op where you can bring your own sides and drinks and tuck into some of the freshest shellfish around for a fraction of the price.