While we appreciate the artful composition (and contents) of Saltie Girl’s tinned fish spreads, we love the stripped-down simplicity of its fried Ipswich Clams, which arrive in a metal bucket that can barely contain them. Served alongside are the only accompaniments needed: two sizable lemon wedges and a mini-bucket of tartar sauce.
Much like a New England summer, fried clams are hot, worth waiting for, and always gone to soon. Here are few local seafood standards that sell standout fried clams—most made with local bivalves harvested in nearby Ipswich.
Not that we’d expect otherwise, but Barbara Lynch’s South End seafood restaurant B&G Oyster does a spot-on version of the local classic. The Fried Ipswich Clams are substantial and crispy without being chewy. A house-made tartar sauce is the perfect creamy, zingy foil to the crunch of the deep-fried seafood (and to the French fries served alongside it).
Yankee Lobster Co.
A true New England fried clam experience requires one ingredient not every restaurant can serve: a whiff of the Atlantic Ocean. At Yankee Lobster Company in the Seaport District, you can take in a freshly fried basket of Whole Belly Fried Clams just a stone’s throw from Boston Harbor. If you’d like to diversify the meal (and if you have some friends in tow), spring for a Fisherman’s Platter, with fried fish, scallops, shrimp, and clams, or a Captain’s Feast featuring all that plus calamari and a lobster tail.
Leave it to Island Creek Oyster Bar, a restaurant partially owned by a bivalve farm, to serve Ipswich clams that were harvested by hand before receiving their deep fry. The Hand-Dug Ipswich Clams are available as both an appetizer-appropriate four-ounce size and a larger eight-ounce serving if you’re looking to turn it into an entrée. And because no ICOB experience is complete without at least one oyster, supplement your order with a crispy oyster slider on a brioche bun.
It may feel like treason to order anything but the Maine Lobster Roll at Neptune Oyster, but we recommend giving the Fried Ipswich Clams a shot (backup plan: order both). The breaded bivalves have just the right amount of batter, enough to keep them crispy without weighing them down.