Cook’s Lobster House, Bailey Island
What to expect: Come for the views, the lobster dishes, and the steamed mussels. Cook’s also ships lobsters anywhere.
Check it out: 68 Garrison Cove Road (on H.S.Route 24); 207/833-2818 or cookslobster.com
Bayview Lobster, Camden
What to expect: The excellent clam chowder at this friendly place on Camden Harbor’s busy boardwalk makes a fine prelude to a deliciously unadorned lobster roll.
Check it out: (1 Bayview Landing) Camden Harbor, 207/236-2005 or bayviewlobster.com
Cappy’s Chowder House, Camden
What to expect: Oh, if we could only have a cup of Cappy’s creamy, thick, peppery, clam-filled, soul-warming chowder now. The seasonal nightly lobster specials are always a good deal.
Check it out: 1 Main Street; 207/236-2254 or cappyschowder.com
The Lobster Shack at Two Lights, Cape Elizabeth
What to expect: Good chowder and lobster rolls. Scenic oceanside setting with outdoor picnic tables at the Cape Elizabeth Light.
Check it out: 225 Two Lights Road; 207/799-1677 or lobstershacktwolights.com
The Captain’s, Cape Porpoise
What to expect: Comfort food, pure and simple. Fried clams make a special trip worthwhile. So do The Captain’s freshly baked pies and cakes. Operating hours are seasonal.
Check it out: 1 Pier Road
Castine Variety, Castine
What to expect: This little general store prepares an enormous lobster roll, gently kissed with mayonnaise. It won a statewide poll a few years ago as Maine’s best. We won’t argue―especially with our mouths full of lobster.
Check it out: 1 Main Street
Dolphin Marina & Restaurant, Harpswell
What to expect: Chowder and a giant blueberry muffin make a great meal.
Check it out: 515 Basin Point; 207/833-6000 or dolphinmarinaandrestaurant.com
The Clam Shack, Kennebunkport
What to expect: High-toned Kennebunkport dearly loves this dowdy little takeout hut at the Kennebunk River bridge in the center of town. Try the fried clams or the lobster roll.
Check it out: (Open May – August) 2 Western Avenue (State 9); 207/967-2560 or theclamshack.net
Lobster Pound Restaurant, Lincolnville Beach
What to expect: Dramatic views of Penobscot Bay and lobster, of course.
Check it out: Route 1; 207/789-5550 or midcoast.com/˜lobstrlb
Trenton Bridge Lobster Pound, Trenton
What to expect: This family-run place cooks lobsters and clams in big seawater pots in front of the building.
Check it out: 1237 Bar Harbor Road; 207/667-2977 or trentonbridgelobster.com
Billy’s Chowder House, Wells
What to expect: Large portions, fresh chowder, lobster, and stuffed haddock, plus nice views of a tidal marsh.
Check it out: 216 Mile Road; 207/646-7558 or billyschowderhouse.com
Red’s Eats, Wiscasset
What to expect: Enormous lobster rolls from a red-and-white stand at the Sheepscot River bridge. Cash only.
Check it out: 41 Water Street (U.S. 1); 207/882-6128
Fishermen's Catch, Wells
What to expect: Enjoy fresh haddock on a toasted bun and pretty marsh views. Open May through mid-October.
Check it out: 134 Harbor Road; 207/646-8780 or fishermanscatchwells.com
Newick’s Lobster House, Dover
What to expect: This waterfront establishment serves seafood baked, broiled, steamed, stuffed, boiled, or fried.
Check it out: 431 Dover Point Road; 800/533-9027 or newicks.com
Lupo’s Seafood and Grille, Hampton
What to expect: A retro-feel place skilled at fried seafood. Also serves breakfast.
Check it out: 595 Ocean Boulevard.; 603/926-1100 or udine4less.com/lupos
The Stockpot, Portsmouth
What to expect: A historic bar-restaurant on a working waterfront.
Check it out: 53 Bow Street; 603/431-1851 or thestockpotrestaurant.com
Ceal's Clam Stand, Seabrook
What to expect: A shed across from the beach offering small, sweet clams. Open May to Labor Day.
Check it out: 22 Ocean Blvd.; 603/474-3150
The Barking Crab, Boston
What to expect: Fun, friendly spot on Fort Point Channel 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
No Name Restaurant, Boston
What to expect: Seafood right off the boat. Ask for the broiled seafood platter.
Check it out: 15½ Fish Pier; 617/423-2705 or noam.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 or lobsterhutt.com
Captain Frosty’s, Dennis
What to expect: Capt’n 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
Kream ’N Kone, Dennisport
What to expect: Excellent seafood at a nice waterfront location.
Check it out: 961 Route 28; 508/394-0808
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 State Highway (U.S. Rt. 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 (State 1A/133); 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 are fit for a king: big and juicy and full of flavor.
Check it out: Tournament Wharf; 978/462-7785 or michaelsharborside.com
The Lobster Pot, 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
Giacomo's Ristorante, Boston
What to expect: Worth the probable wait (cash only)
Check it out: 355 Hanover Street; 617/523-9026