The long lines move quickly, and the fried seafood (especially the whole-belly clams, scallops, and lobster) and homemade onion rings (2,000 pounds sold every week!) are well worth the wait; arnoldsrestaurant.com, 508-255-2575
This fun, friendly spot overlooking Fort Point Channel continues to offer some of the best seafood in all of Boston. Start with the spicy calamari and then proceed to the clambake--Jonah crab, chowder, steamers, mussels, corn, coleslaw, and cornbread. (If you find yourself in Newport, RI, check out their sister spot.) barkingcrab.com, 617-426-2722
Try the amazing fried clams at this smal shack with blue picnic tables 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; 508-645-9239.
What's not to love about a restaurant that looks like a giant clam box? Wonderful fried clams. Great fish, scallops, oysters, and clam chowder, too; 978-356-9707, clamboxipswich.com.
There's a steady stream of people in the two lines at this small, window-only restaurant. The left lane is for hot, grilled, and fried seafood specialties; the right lane, for hand-scooped, big-as-your-face gourmet ice cream cones. Under the covered eating area, plastic benches are filled with families sharing baskets of fried clams coated in just enough batter to be addictive. And then there's the New England--style lobster roll: monstrous hunks of tender meat served cold with crisp celery—the way it's been done at Cobie's for almost 30 years. Open seasonally, mid-May through mid-October; 508-896-7021, cobies.com.
Get fried clams, fish-and-chips, or a lobster roll here at the original of the five Kelly's locations. Find a seat at the beach pavilion across the street; 781-284-9129, kellysroastbeef.com.
West Dennis, Massachusetts
The sign claims "the finest fried seafood anywhere," and it's a reasonable claim. The fried seafood platter, which comes with French fries and onion rings, may make a believer out of you; 508-394-0808, kreamnkone.com.
A neon lobster lights the way to this local institution at the tip of Cape Cod. 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; 508-487-0842, ptownlobsterpot.com.
Woodman's claims to have invented the fried clam back in 1916, and it certainly creates a wonderful version. It does everything else well, too. Lobster is always a good choice; 800-626-1011, woodsseafoods.com.
Start with some of the best oysters anywhere--Wellfleets harvested from local waters here on Cape Cod's outer reaches--and add to that delicious base a menu that features local-caught bluefish (another Cape specialty) and great cocktails, wines, and beer, and you've got the makings of a dreamy summer meal. The full-sized lobsterman perched on the roof of Mac's Shack hauling a ginormous lobster to his boat just adds to the overall sense of history (and kitsch); 91 Commerical Street, 508-349-6333 or macsseafood.com.