We may be biased, but there is no better destination for summer road trips than the New England coast. The scenery is gorgeous and the seafood is at its prime, so locals and tourists alike pack in cars in search of the quintessential summer shack experience! Take note that reservations and fancy pants aren't required for this journey, just a little bit of patience (for the inevitable traffic) and a passion for getting your hands on some of the best seafood around.
Below is by no means a comprehensive list, just a little something to get your mouth watering, and your seafood road trips started! So pack up the car - those lobster rolls are waiting for you.
Chauncey Creek Lobster Pier
Chauncey Creek Lobster Pier, located in Kittery, will enliven your senses. From the moment you step out of your car and smell the salty air, to when you finally set in to devouring your seafood platter, you feel as if you caught your food yourself and are eating it on a boat floating down the eponymous creek.
The picnic tables -on a deck located directly on Chauncey Creek- offer a variety of seating, from completely covered to full sunshine. And it's a BYOB establishment, so you'll often see people tables with coolers full of food and drinks they’ve brought to enjoy in addition to their heaping plates of steamers and lobster.
From wine and garlic steamed mussels served with butter, simple steamed clams, lobster any way you want it, and a variety of fried food for those picky eaters you know and love, Chauncey Creek offers something for everyone. It is really one of the most wonderful places you can go for a relaxing evening with family and friends to enjoy some delicious food outside. ~ Anne Barleon
16 Chauncey Creek Rd., Kittery Point, ME, 207-439-1030, chaunceycreek.com
Some of our other favorite seafood shacks in Maine:
Bob’s Clam Hut
315 US Route 1, Kittery, ME, 207-439-4233, bobsclamhut.com
The Clam Shack
2 Western Ave., Kennebunk, ME, 207-967-3321, theclamshack.net
The Lobster Shack at Two Lights
225 Two Lights Rd., Cape Elizabeth, ME, 207-799-1677, lobstershacktwolights.com
The Lobster Dock
49 Atlantic Ave., Boothbay Harbor, ME, 207-633-7120, thelobsterdock.com
Young’s Lobster Pound
2 Fairview St., Belfast, ME, 207-338-1160, youngslobsterpound.com
Roy Moore Lobster Co.
If you're looking for a stellar seafood experience then head up to Roy Moore Lobster Co. in Rockport, a seacoast village on Cape Ann. This place is not only a local favorite, it's an institute. The restaurant's casual vibe is relaxing, the friendly staff is inviting, and every seat in the house has a view of Old Harbor and Sandy Bay.
The menu is reasonably priced and stacked with a variety of classics including scallops and fish, lightly battered and fried. You'll also find more contemporary options like the their Buffalo-style shrimp appetizer, portioned to feed an army and served with Blue Cheese dressing. The fried fish platter topped our list and comes with fries and coleslaw, although we recommend you sub in the potato salad. It's creamy and fresh, made with Red Bliss potatoes and just the right amount of mayo.
But it's the fried fish Reuben that needs to make its way to your table. Fried haddock, coleslaw, and Swiss cheese are topped with a Thousand Island dressing and sandwiched between two slices of grilled rye bread. It's savory, crunchy, expertly stacked and bursting with flavor - the perfect fried fish sandwich.
If fried fish isn't what you're looking for then opt for their famous Lobster Roll. A traditional New England roll is buttered and grilled, then stuffed with large chunks of lobster meat and a side of coleslaw. You'll appreciate the mayo on the side; it gives you the opportunity to taste how fresh the seafood is. (Or slather it on for a creamy texture, yum.)
While we choose to visit the restaurant, you can also opt for the no-frills shack located down the street, smack dab in the middle of the picturesque Rockport shopping district. The lines are long and the seating is limited to a few outdoor tables, but it's worth the wait - this is the best lobster you'll find in the area and a "don't miss" for tourists. ~ Stacy Buchanan
21 Dock Square, Rockport, MA, 978-546-6696, rockportusa.com
Some of our other favorite seafood shacks in Massachusetts:
Belle Isle, Winthrop
One Main St., Winthrop, MA, 617-567-1619, bellisleseafood.com
The Clam Box of Ipswich, Ipswich
246 High St., Ipswich, MA, 978-356-9707, clamboxipswich.com
The Clam Shack of Falmouth, Falmouth
227 Clinton Ave., Falmouth, MA, 508-540-7758, facebook.com/theclamshackoffalmouth
Hingham Lobster Pound, Hingham
1818, 4 Broad Cove Rd., Hingham, MA, 781-749-1984, hinghamlobster.net
J.T. Farnhams, Essex
88 Eastern Ave., Essex, MA, 978-768-6643, jtfarnhams.com
Petey’s Summertime Seafood
Just off of Route 1A, in Rye, New Hampshire, cars line up alongside the road as people eagerly wait to get a taste of baked, broiled, or fried seafood from Petey’s Summertime Seafood. Don’t be fooled by the name, though - Petey’s is open year-round, a big plus for seafood lovers.
Greeted by colorful lobster buoys on the outside, you'll immediately feel like you've found an off-the-beaten-path beach shack - a vibe that carries on through to the inside. Several dining options are available at Petey’s to suit your mood: order at the outside window and eat at a selection of picnic tables overlooking the river. Or sit inside, where you can choose between seat-yourself tables or the slightly more formal dining room.
Though the traditional dishes like fried clams and shrimp are undoubtedly delicious, those looking to venture beyond should try Petey’s calamari. It is tender and battered perfectly - it doesn't overpower the taste of the squid, but enhances the flavor. It is the perfect dish to share for those who like either the rings or the tentacles.
If fried food isn’t your fancy, try the broiled fresh haddock served in a gratin dish with a hefty serving of rice pilaf and the most amazing coleslaw on the side. Described by one enthusiastic guest as “indescribable”, broiled scallops and shrimp are also an option. They are perfectly buttered, smooth and velvety.
And remember to stay for some ice cream afterwards - that is, if you have enough room! ~ Anne Barleon
1323 Ocean Blvd., Rye, NH, 603-433-1937, peteys.com
Some of our other favorite seafood shacks in New Hampshire:
Brown’s Lobster Pound, Seabrook
407 NH Hwy. 286, Seabrook, NH, 603-474-3331, brownslobsterpound.com
Clam Haven, Derry
94 Rockingham Rd., Derry, NH, 603-434-4679, clamhaven.com
The Ice House, Rye
112 Wentworth Rd., Rye, NH, 603-431-3086, theicehouserestaurant.com
Pop’s Clam Shell, Alton Bay
55 Mt. Major Hwy., Alton Bay, NH, 603-875-6363, popsclamshell.com
River House, Portsmouth
53 Bow St., Portsmouth, NH, 603-431-2600, riverhouse53bow.com
The Narragansett-based Aunt Carrie's has been a regional favorite for almost 100 years. But after being featured on the Food Network's Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, this third-generation, family-owned seafood restaurant is now a nationally adored establishment.
Dine-in and you’ll be treated to the traditional seafood shack experience; a casual atmosphere with fast and friendly service. Order take-out to eat outside and you'll be greeted with impressive scenery; Aunt Carrie's sits in between some of Rhode Island's most beautiful beaches and the views are stunning.
Either way, the seafood is a fresh as can be. And most orders come with a delicious (and complimentary) bread basket to tide you over.
Aunt Carrie's fried plates are piled high with favorites like shrimp and scallops, and served with house made sauces (cocktail and tartar sauce, respectively), a creamy coleslaw and crispy fries (or mashed potatoes, if you desire). And while we also love their catch of the day and broiled seafood options, it’s the clam cakes that are the real treat. The 90+ year old family recipe includes a special fritter mixture and fresh clams that are combined and deep fried in a beef shortening, giving the famous cakes their unforgettable rich flavor.
But despite all these options, be sure to save room for dessert! Aunt Carrie's also has a reputation for knocking some socks off with scratch-made treats like Strawberry Shortcake. Or you can head across the street to their Ice Cream Shoppe and indulge with a giant-sized scoop of their locally-made ice cream. There's nothing better on a hot, summer day. ~ Stacy Buchanan
1240 Ocean Rd., Narragansett, RI, 401-783-7930, auntcarriesri.com
Some of our other favorite seafood shacks in Rhode Island:
Blount Clam Shack, Warren
335 Water St., Warren, RI, 401-245-3210, http://www.blountretail.com/warren/home
Evelyn’s Drive-In, Tiverton
2335 Main Rd., Tiverton, RI, 401-624-3100, http://www.evelynsdrivein.com/
Flo’s Clam Shack, Middletown
4 Wave Ave., Middletown, RI, 401-847-8141, flosclamshacks.com
Monahan’s Clam Shack
190 Ocean Rd, Narragansett, RI, 401-782-2524, monahansri.com
Newport Lobster Shack
150 Long Wharf, Newport, RI, 401-847-1700, newportlobstershack.com