Connecticut: The Chowder Capital of New England Last Updated: October 2021
By Jim Keenan. Updated by Connecticut Office of Tourism.
With nearly 100 miles of idyllic shoreline, Connecticut knows more than a “little” about seafood, especially shellfish. It goes to reason we also know great clam chowder! Each fall, over 10,000+ discernible foodies travel from far and wide to sample and judge the best chowder, soup and bisque. Restaurants representing every state in New England come to Westport, Connecticut to compete in The New England Chowdafest for the distinction of being called best in New England. Here's a little background about Connecticut's own chowder history to prime your tastebuds.
All Different Kinds
Chowders come in a wide variety and are difficult to compare to each other as there’s much more than the renowned creamy white New England clam chowder everyone loves. There’s the clear broth Rhode Island clam chowder which traditionalists will argue is the true clam chowder and then there's the popular tomato based Manhattan clam chowder. There are fish chowders, mussel, oyster, scallop and shrimp chowders too but don't think for a moment chowders are just seafood. There are corn and poblano chowders, cheese burger chowders — even a mango habanero chowder.
People have even gone to war over determining which chowder is the best. A tomato hating politician from Maine set off the Maine Clam Chowder War of 1939 when he proposed to introduce a bill to make it a crime to pollute clam chowder with tomatoes. Chowdafest tries to quell the debate more civilly each year through its competition but understands you can't simply compare one style of chowder to another as they each have their unique attributes which is why the competition has four distinct categories of competition: New England clam chowder category, the “Traditional” category reserved for Rhode Island and Manhattan clam chowders, the creative chowder category (anything but New England and Traditional) and soup and bisque.
Please note that Chowdafest has been postponed for 2021, so be sure to look out for next year's event. For those who can't wait, visit these fantastic chowder houses all around Connecticut.