Where to Find the Best Clam Chowder in Boston Right Now
From the iconic recipes to chefs' reverent riffs on the New England classic.
It’s not quite an ordinary summer in Boston, but you can still enjoy a taste of a traditional favorite: New England clam chowder. Recipe variations abound, of course, but no matter how you slurp it, a briny-sweet, creamy bowlful of fresh seafood always brings back memories of Cape Cod clambakes and crisp summer nights spent at beachside snack shacks. We’ve collected a few spins that happen to be catching our eye right now, and we’ve updated our list of the 15 best versions in the city with info on availability during these early days of restaurant reopenings. [Updated July 1, 2020]
Just in time for the Fourth of July weekend, this homegrown group of Northern Italian restaurants is offering clam chowder laden with bacon, corn, celery, and potatoes. While you can order a cup a la carte all summer long, it’s also included in a New England clambake package. This full array, which goes for $65 per person and will be only for the Fourth weekend, also includes a Maine lobster, littleneck clams, local corn, baby creamer potatoes, and blueberry shortcake with vanilla ice cream. Pick it up to take on a picnic, or devour the whole mess at Davio’s now-reopened locations in the Seaport, Chestnut Hill, Lynnfield, Braintree and Foxborough.
50 Liberty Drive, Boston, 617-261-4810, and other locations, davios.com.
If you plan to do some socially distanced sunbathing at Revere Beach this summer, drift by this sleek newcomer overlooking the sand. The menu is Italian inspired and the vibe veers toward Miami Chic—the chowder, meanwhile, is a familiar dose of local flavor buoyed by bacon and brioche croutons. Follow it up with raw bar selections such as scallop ceviche or freshly shucked oysters with pink peppercorn mignonette, but like the tides, stay on schedule: There’s a 1.5-hour table limit at the current, COVID-era moment.
500 Ocean Ave., Revere, 781-629-1842, dryftrevere.com.
Lobstah on a Roll
When it first landed in the South End, Lobstah made a splash with gargantuan rolls that measured up to five feet long; since then, they’ve expanded to Boston’s Back Bay and Salem. Although the Witch City shop is currently closed, both Hub outposts continue to offer a scaled-down menu for takeout and delivery, including simple but tasty chowdah—and, if you’d rather stay on-brand, lobstah bisque too.
254 Newbury St., Boston, 617-431-2284; 537 Columbus Ave., Boston, 617-424-7067, lobstahonaroll.com.
LongCross Bar + Kitchen
Visit this New American addition to Medford and you’ll discover a few new things: one of the coolest new patios in the Boston area, hard-to-find (around here) Detroit-style deep dish pizza, and some hearty, creamy clam chowder loaded with carrots, potatoes, celery, and smoked bacon. It’s available for indoor and outdoor dining on site, as well as takeout.
501 Fellsway, Medford, 781-874-1033, longcrossbar.com.
The Window at Row 34
As with sibling spot Island Creek Oyster Bar, the dining room remains closed at Row 34. However, the Seaport stalwart has flung open the Window, a takeout-only concept that offers some of the restaurant’s most beloved dishes through online ordering. You’ll find one of the city’s best lobster rolls, fried oyster or clam plates, and a classic chowder with bacon, potato, celery, and a bit of brightness thanks to fresh bay leaves and other herbs.
383 Congress St., Boston, 617-553-5900, row34.com.
15 Bowls of Clam Chowder Every Bostonian Must Eat
You know ’em, you love ’em—and many of them are back in action. Here’s our recap of the best sushi restaurants in Boston, with details on the availability of takeout, delivery, and on-site dining. Watch this space for more updates!
Atlantic Fish Co.
Status: Currently closed.
Served up for decades near the Boston Marathon Finish Line in the Back Bay, this classic recipe is also available daily in a bread bowl.
761 Boylston St., Back Bay, Boston, 617-267-4000, atlanticfish.com.
Status: Open daily from 12-9 p.m. for takeout and patio dining.
Unctuous bacon lardons and croutons with a subtle kick are the new traditions acclaimed chef and South Boston native Barbara Lynch brings to the table at this South End neighborhood spot.
550 Tremont St., South End, Boston, 617-423-0550, bandgoysters.com.
The Barking Crab
Status: Open for takeout and on-site dining from 4-8 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays; 12-8 p.m. Fridays through Sundays.
A party deck full of nautical tchotchkes, cold beer, and fried seafood is a beacon for tourists, sure, but it’s also just what we want sometimes—especially with a starter of clam chowder. This longtime favorite cup continues to impress with depth of flavor, achieved by executive chef Jose Reyes sautéing fresh quahogs, then poaching them in white wine and aromatics.
88 Sleeper St., Boston, 617-426-2722, barkingcrab.com.
Belle Isle Seafood
Status: Open daily from 11 a.m.-8 p.m. for takeout and indoor/outdoor dining.
Another low-frills, Boston-area clam box, the atmosphere here is nevertheless unique thanks to Logan Airport, Boston skyline, and harbor views. The chowder, meanwhile, is well-seasoned and perfectly creamy.
1 Main St., Winthrop, 617-567-1619, belleisleseafood.net.
Status: Open for takeout and delivery from 4-8 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays; 12-8 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.
This modern New England seafood counter presents a brothy cup of soup flavored with kombu (an edible seaweed) and smoked butter, full of large clams and pieces of salt pork. We expect nothing less from the James Beard award-winning chefs who gave New England a Maine lobster roll-style bao bun.
1321 Boylston St., Fenway/Kenmore, Boston, 617-545-1060, eventideoysterco.com.
Island Creek Oyster Bar
Status: Currently closed.
A chef helping to redefine modern New England cuisine, Jeremy Sewall spins traditional dishes into recognizable and comforting innovations. His clam chowder, a menu staple, is a great example, with smokiness amped up by house-cured bacon, and buttermilk biscuit-croutons for savoring all the stew.
500 Commonwealth Ave., Fenway/Kenmore, Boston, 617-532-5300, islandcreekoysterbar.com.
Legal Sea Foods
Status: Legal Harborside is open daily from 12-8 p.m. for takeout, indoor and patio dining, while its rooftop is open 2-9 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays. Chestnut Hill location is open daily from 12-8 p.m. for takeout, indoor and patio dining. On Tuesday, July 7, Legal on the Mystic in Somerville and Legal C Bar in Lynnfield will reopen for takeout, indoor, and patio dining from 12-8 p.m. daily. Other locations remain currently closed.
Thick and richly flavored with salt pork and herbs, this perennial favorite is as delicious as it is iconic. The recipe developed in Cambridge has been on the seafood company’s menus since 1981. It’s ladeled into cups at Fenway Park, and it’s even been served at the past six presidential inaugurations.
26 Park Plaza, Boston, 617-426-4444, and other locations, legalseafoods.com.
Status: The Back Bay location is open daily from 12-8 p.m. for takeout and delivery; Seaport and Downtown Crossing locations are currently closed.
This New York-born counter-service chain takes pride in using seafood from the cofounder’s hometown port in Maine, and other sustainable sources—so you can feel even better about adding on a cup of this creamy, flavorful soup to your lobster-roll combo order.
75 Exeter St., Back Bay, 857-350-4626; 290 Washington St., Downtown Crossing, 857-317-4843; 53 Northern Ave., Seaport, Boston, 617-848-0911, lukeslobster.com.
Status: Open for takeout and indoor/outdoor dining from 12-8 p.m Mondays through Wednesdays; 12-9 p.m. on Thursdays; 12-10 p.m on Fridays; 11:30 a.m-10 p.m. on Saturdays; and 11:30 a.m.-8 p.m. on Sundays.
Indeed, you can do much worse than this Quincy Market Irish pub (and nighttime club) for an authentic taste of New England clam chowder. The slightly sweet, almost buttery bowl is a Hall of Fame chowder for good reason.
1 Faneuil Hall Marketplace, Boston, 617-248-8800, neddevinesboston.com.
Oak & Rowan
Status: Open for takeout from 4-8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, but weekly menus vary.
Though refined in presentation—the silky broth is poured tableside—chef Justin Shoults keeps this menu staple fun and approachable with house-made potato chips.
321 A St., Boston, 857-284-7742, oakandrowan.com.
Mooncusser Fish House
Status: Cusser’s, the restaurant’s casual, street-side takeout window, is open for lunch/dinner from 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. Takeout, delivery (via Caviar) and patio dining available. (For non-chowder needs, Cusser’s also serves breakfast from 9:30 a.m.-1 p.m. on Saturdays.)
Carolyn Johnson, best-known as chef of Concord’s destination 80 Thoreau, is making a splash in Boston with her team’s latest, Mooncusser. Her seafood chowder features in-the-shell clams along with smoky scallops and skate, plus pretty and crunchy half-moon oyster crackers. Bonus: You can also order this chowder at the more casual Moon Bar, and from the attached takeout window.
304 Stuart St., Boston, 617-917-5193, mooncusserfishhouse.com.
Status: Red’s Best’s location at Boston Public Market is currently closed. Fresh fish and some prepared seafood is available for curbside pickup at Boston Fish Pier in the Seaport, but clam chowder is not currently offered.
A reliable prepared food option at Boston Public Market, this local seafood wholesaler loads their New England clam chowder with local clams.
Boston Public Market, 100 Hanover St., Haymarket, Boston, 857-930-4831, redsbest.com.
The Sail Loft
Status: Open daily for takeout and indoor/outdoor dining from 11:30 a.m-10 p.m.
This North End institution has been serving up waterfront views and overflowing mugs of dill-flecked chowder since 1984, and it’s still one of the best cups in the city.
80 Atlantic Ave., North End, Boston, 617-227-7280, thebostonsailloft.com.
Status: Boston location is open for dine-in and takeout from 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays; 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m. on Fridays; 11 a.m.-11 p.m. on Saturdays; and 11 a.m.-10 p.m on Sundays. Cambridge location is open for dine-in and takeout daily from 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m.
At his self-titled waterfront restaurant in the 1980s, chef Jasper White became a leader of a Boston’s culinary revolution. His seafood skills are still on the scene at a couple locations of Summer Shack, which serves this beloved bowl of medium-thick chowder with cherrystones and chives.
149 Alewife Brook Pkwy., Cambridge, 617-520-9500, 50 Dalton St., Boston, 617-867-9955, summershackrestaurant.com.
Union Oyster House
Status: Open for takeout and indoor/outdoor dining from 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays; 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.
Still rich, clam-packed, and satisfyingly salty, this soup has been a menu mainstay since the 1800s.
41 Union St., Boston, 617-227-2750, unionoysterhouse.com.