Every true Rhode Islander has an opinion on where to get the best clam cakes and chowder, and it isn’t truly summer until you’ve enjoyed a picnic table lunch of them. here’s the skinny on South county’s clam shacks. make it your mission to visit all of them this season and decide for yourself which is best.
The first name in seafood in South County is Carrie. Well, more specifically, Aunt Carrie. The current iteration of the Narragansett restaurant was built in 1920. Besides classic fried seafood, Aunt Carrie’s offers up honest, New England fare like their Rhode Island Shore Dinner. Their famous desserts, like fruit pies and the not beautiful but incredibly delicious Indian Pudding, are made in house every day. 1240 Ocean Road, Narragansett. 783-7930.
Across the street from Aunt Carrie’s is the other first name in local seafood. Iggy’s Doughboys and Chowder House will leave you waiting in line on any given sunny summer day, but it’s so worth the wait, especially if you’re doing it in your bathing suit, fresh from the beach. In addition to clam cakes, red and white chowder and fried seafood, Iggy’s serves delicious burgers (and has homemade soda to wash it down with). If you don’t leave room for a namesake doughboy after your meal, well really, you’ve missed the whole point. 889 Oakland Beach Avenue, Warwick. 737-9459. 1157 Point Judith Road, Narragansett. 783-5608.
Steps off Narragansett Town Beach is Monahan’s Clam Shack by the Sea. The line is a bit shorter at this place, but that’s because the turnover tends to be just a little bit faster. And it certainly doesn’t mean that their thick chowder and crispy clam cakes are any less delicious. Order at the window and then eat on their shady patio, directly over- looking the sea wall and the beach. For clam cakes and chowder on the go, find their food truck, Roxy’s Lobster. It regularly makes appearances at farmer’s markets and around town for lunch and dinner service. the best place to keep track of Roxy’s location is on twitter. Monahan’s: 190 Ocean Road, Narragansett. 782-2524.
Galilee might win the award for the most clam shacks in closest proximity to each other (that is, if there were such an award, which would be kind of weird). George’s of Galilee (250 Sand Hill Cove Road. 783-2306) and Champlin’s (256 Great Island Road. 783-3152), on either side of Salty Brine State beach, have been serving fresh-from-the-boat seafood for generations. Champlin’s is more of a picnic table atmosphere, and directly overlooks the path of the block Island Ferry. (If you’re not waving to the excited island-bound passengers as you eat your lobster roll, you’re not in the spirit of the season.) George’s has a full sit-down restaurant with live music and a rooftop patio overlooking the beach, as well as a to-go window. Further complicating your choice is the fact that the snack shack at Salty brine, Salty’s Landing (254 Great Island Road. 783-8187), serves clam cakes and chowder, and you don’t actually need to put on shoes to get them. Just steps away is a newer addition to Galilee’s seafood offerings: Buster Krab’s (265 Great Island Road. 284-0218). This “burger shack and beach bar” serves all three kinds of chowder, in addition to clam cakes and “the world’s most ginormous whole belly clam manwich.” Across the street, Clam Jammers (294 Great Island Road. 783-9600) is a sit-down restaurant with all the traditional New England seafood fare, as well as a food truck that makes appearances all over southern Rhode Island and Providence.
Directly across the water from Champlin’s and Clam Jammers is Jim’s Dock in Jerusalem. the restaurant, recently remodeled after a bout with a certain superstorm last fall, is exactly what it sounds like: a dock, jutting out into the bay, where you can enjoy really delicious fried scallops while listening to the waves lap underneath you. The fact that you can bring your dog and your own beer only sweetens the deal. 1175 Succotash Road, Wakefield. 783-2050.
On the main drag in Watch Hill is another South County mainstay: St. Clair Annex. The current iteration has been on bay Street since 1947, but evolved from a New London business started in 1887, and is still run by the same family (now the fifth generation of them). Besides a bacon-laden Rhode Island chowder, traditional New England creamy, clam cakes and lobster rolls that return customers start craving even before the restaurant opens for the season, St. Clair Annex makes its own ice cream. Be sure to leave room for a cone you can stroll back to the beach with. 141 Bay St, Westerly. 348-8407.
Stroll off East Matunuck State Beach and onto the deck at Cap’n Jack’s, overlooking Succotash Salt Marsh. Fresh seafood is always the order of the day. You even have the option of adding a cup of chowder and three clam cakes to any of the new england Favorites on their menu (like the Fisherman’s Platter, clam Roll or Lobster Salad Roll). Stop by the on-site bakery afterwards and take home some of their delicious house-made pastries. 706 Succotash Rd, Wakefield. 789-4556.
If Charlestown Town Beach is your shore of choice, Johnny Angels Clam Shack is worth a stop. Besides their fried fare, chowders, lobster rolls and burgers, Johnny Angels offers healthy options like grilled salmon. They also serve other Rhode Island delicacies like Del’s Lemonade and allie’s Donuts. 523 Charlestown Beach Road, Charlestown. 419-6732.