James Hook & Co.
Rebuilt after a fire in 2008, James Hook & Co. serves outstanding lobster rolls at reasonable prices from a downtown Boston location. Looking for ambiance? Get ’em to go, them walk over the bridge to eat along the waterway.
15 Northern Ave., Boston, 617-423-5500, jameshooklobster.com.
Belle Isle Seafood
It’s a dive for sure, but the portions are huge and the lobster roll is one of New England’s finest. The jewel of the menu, though, is the excellent fried-fish sandwich — crisp, flaky, and smeared with a terrific tartar sauce. 1267 Saratoga St., East Boston, 617-567-1619, belleisleseafood.com.
At this classic shingled shack on the Vineyard, we’re partial to the chowder, a perfect balance of cream and brine. Grab a cup and watch the sun set over the sound. 29 Basin Rd., Menemsha, Martha’s Vineyard, 508-645-9239, thebitemenemsha.com.
Competing shack Farnham’s may offer the superior setting, but Essex locals consider the food at Woodman’s to be a bit more refined. Come for the clams, of course, but don’t overlook the chowder.
121 Main St., Essex, 800-649-1773, woodmans.com.
The Clam Box
This parcel shares a name, but not an owner, with the Quincy original. Fans swear by the “fisherman’s platter,” which features enough native clams and other deliciously crisp seafood items to feed a fleet. 246 High St., Ipswich, 978-356-9707, ipswichma.com/clambox.
The (Original) Clam Box
At this Wollaston Beach favorite, the fried clams are rivaled only by the views of the Atlantic. Try them on a bun slathered with pickle-laced tartar sauce. 789 Quincy Shore Dr., Quincy, 617-773-6677, clamboxquincy.com.
J. T. Farnham’s
In Essex, the debate over fried clams takes on a Seussian tenor: Are you a Farnham or a Woodman? Both are excellent options for crispy seafood. But being a Farnham means you like the view of a salt marsh alongside your clam roll. 88 Eastern Ave., Essex, 978-768-6643.
Jake’s Seafood Restaurant
This Nantasket fixture boasts sophisticated plates of calamari and shrimp cocktail alongside tried-and-true, shack-style servings of scallops and scrod. 50 George Washington Blvd., Hull, 781-925-1024, jakesseafoods.com.
Of their two Lower Cape locations, we prefer the one on Wellfleet Pier. Yes, it sells sushi and T-shirts, but you’ll also find sublime fried oysters and superfresh striped bass. 265 Commercial St., Wellfleet, 508- 349-0404, macsseafood.com.