The Barking Crab, Boston
What to expect: Fun, friendly spot on Fort Point Landing with outdoor tables. Start with the spicy calamari; then proceed to the clambake.
Check it out: 88 Sleeper Street; 617/426-2722 or barkingcrab.com
Bayside Lobster Hutt, Wellfleet
What to expect: Open late June through early September for great lobster and sea-clam pie.
Check it out: 91 Commercial Street; 508/349-6333
Captain Frosty’s, Dennis
What to expect: Captain Frosty’s, grafted onto the back of a 1950s-era Cape Cod dairy bar, serves wonderful fried clams--juicy but not greasy. For dessert, walk around to the ice cream stand in front.
Check it out: 219 Route 6A; 508/385-8548 or captainfrosty.com
Arnold’s Lobster & Clam Bar, Eastham
What to expect: The long lines move quickly, and the fried seafood (especially clams) and onion rings are worth the wait.
Check it out: 3580 Route 6; 508/255-2575 or arnoldsrestaurant.com
Clam Box of Ipswich, Ipswich
What to expect: Clam Box rejects two fixtures of modern life: credit cards and frozen seafood. The fish, scallops, and oysters taste as good as the fried clams and chowder. Look for the building shaped like a clam box.
Check it out: 246 High Street; 978/356-9707 or ipswichma.com/clambox
The Bite, Martha’s Vineyard
What to expect: Try the amazing fried clams at this small, blue-and-gray shack on the side of the road. Though The Bite is known for hearty quahog clam chowder, it’s impossible to stop at soup. Everything is fried, including the macaroni and cheese bites (which we highly recommend). Seating consists of two umbrella-shaded benches, but the beach is steps away.
Check it out: 29 Basin Road, Menemsha; 508/645-9239 or thebitemenemsha.com
Michael’s Harborside Restaurant & Bar, Newburyport
What to expect: The fried scallops--big and juicy and full of flavor--are fit for a king.
Check it out: One Tournament Wharf; 978/462-7785 or michaelsharborside.com
The Lobster Pot Restaurant, Provincetown
What to expect: Waiting for a table, common during the summer season, allows you to study the immense menu, which encompasses just about every kind of seafood and preparation. Here’s a hint: The clam chowder always makes a good start.
Check it out: 321 Commercial Street; 508/487-0842 or ptownlobsterpot.com
Woodman’s of Essex, Essex
What to expect: Amazing fried clams. Founder Lawrence “Chubby” Woodman claimed he invented them here in 1916. Lines have been forming outside ever since. Great clam chowder, too. Wash it all down with a Samuel Adams Summer Ale. The rooftop deck overlooks the marsh, the Essex River, and Crane Beach in the distance.
Check it out: 121 Main Street (State 133); 800/649-1773 or woodmans.com
Kelly’s Roast Beef, Revere, Massachusetts
What to expect: Done right, this New England delicacy (whole-belly soft-shell clam meat, battered and deep-fried) supplies the ideal blend of juiciness and crunch. Kelly’s does it to perfection. What’s now a mini-chain with five locations began in 1951 at this Revere Beach take-out stand, where only the roast beef sandwiches outsell the fried clams. It’s still wildly popular and open nearly around the clock.
Check it out: 410 Revere Beach Blvd.; 781/284-9129 or kellysroastbeef.com