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The Best Seasonal and Year-Round Fried Clams Destinations in the Boston Area

The Clam Box, Ipswich, Massachusettss

The Clam Box, Ipswich, Mass.

Article and photos (unless otherwise noted) by Eric Hurwitz. Updated 12/19/16.

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The magic begins when soft shell whole-bellied clams prepared with evaporated milk and flour are dipped in batter and then fried.

It could also be said that the fried clam is one of the downfalls of optimal health, but an occasional indulgence into this delicious form of shellfish sure feels right as a New England native. Adding some well-formed fries or onion rings with some tartar sauce on the side sends this local dish into hall of fame culinary status.

Here are some of our favorite fried clam restaurant destinations in the Boston area:

1. Woodman's, Essex Known as the birthplace of the fried clam, circa 1916, Woodman's is a household name in this area, and with good reason: the fried clams here are truly delicious and served in ample portions. Consider Woodman's the standard of which many other fried clam places look up to, and a go-to destination for locals craving fried clams. 12 Main St. Tel. (978) 768-6057. Open year-round.

Fried Clams from Woodman's in Essex, Mass. Photo credit: Massachusetts Department of Travel and Tourism
Fried clams from Woodman's in Essex. Photo credit: Massachusetts Department of Travel and Tourism.

2. The Clam Box, Ipswich Not too far from Woodman's, this classic North Shore clam shack shaped like a clam box is every bit as good as Woodman's. Some say it is better, but I think it's a definite tie. 246 High St. Tel. (978) 356-9707. Seasonal.

3. Harry's Restaurant & Dairy Bar, Westboro  This Metrowest roadside restaurant that dates back to 1946 is known for its mounds of mouthwatering fried clams and some of the lowest prices you'll find for a plate. Harry's looks like a diner, but the long-time staff won't have any part of that -- they feel it's more like a restaurant. Whatever the case, go with the fried clams here. 149 Turnpike Rd (Route 9). Tel. (508) 366-8302. Open year-round.

4. Kelly's Roast Beef, Revere Beach  This well-known, north-of-Boston beachside take-out place might have roast beef in its name, but fried clams are the preferred dish by many. Order at the window and enjoy the plate at the beach -- great during the summer and with a surprising number of people braving the cold in the winter. The latter is enough proof about the lenghts people will go to get a taste of these fried clams!  410 Revere Beach Blvd. Tel. (781) 284-9129. Open year-round.

5. Red Wing Diner, Walpole Another old-time restaurant going back more than 50 years, the Red Wing Diner, according to many, have fried clams every bit as good as Woodman's. There's not much of a drop-off, that's for sure. While the rather ugly southwest of Boston Route 1 area doesn't have as much as a geographical appetizer presence as the scenic, coastal North Shore, the Red Wing is all about the food and the fried clams serve as its main attraction. 2235 Providence Highway, Route 1. Tel. (508) 668-0453. Open year-round.

6. J.T. Farnham's, Ipswich The "Famous Clams" sign out front says it all about J.T. Farnham's. This landmark location dates back to the 1940s -- first starting as Wilson's and then Farnham's in the 1990s -- and serves up smaller clams with a crispier taste than most other seafood shacks. Located on the Essex River, the beautiful views are everywhere you look -- that is, right in front of you with a fried clam plate and outside with the scenic natural views! The feeling is no frills, laid back and local, sort of like the seafood shack version of a diner. When at Farnham's, also consider the lobster rolls as well as the seafood chowder with its delicious mix of clams, haddock, scallops and lobster! Opens the first week of March through December. 88 Eastern Ave. Tel. 978-768-6643

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These Boston area clam shacks and restaurants serve the best fried clams.

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