12 Classic Connecticut Clam Shacks Last Updated: March 2022
New England seafood is famous worldwide. And there's no better place to enjoy it on a hot summer day than by stopping at one of Connecticut's many seashore clam shacks. All along the shoreline, you'll find local spots that offer the freshest in seafood favorites. From buttery lobster rolls (we invented them!) to fried shrimp, freshly caught oysters and creamy clam chowder, these classic seafood shacks in Connecticut are worth a visit.
Just be sure to check with each location before venturing out as many of these spots are open seasonally.
What’s a Clam Shack?
Traditionally, it’s a small joint that offers quick, no-frills seafood on a seasonal basis, usually spring through fall. They can be found on the side of the road, the edge of a beach or at dockside in a marina — never far from the salty ocean breezes. Your fried, grilled or steamed seafood comes on a paper plate or in a cardboard box, which some say enhances the experience.
Serving award winning seafood year round, Jasper's White's Summer Shack has a raw bar that holds 2,000 pieces of fresh shellfish. You can also dine dockside on the Mystic River at Costello’s Clam Shack, a Noank favorite. Enjoy everything from clam fritters and calamari to crab cakes and hot lobster rolls. A shoreline fixture in Madison for 60 years, Donahue’s Clam Castle offers golden fried seafood platters, cod sandwiches, lobster and oyster rolls and other favorites. And be sure to pull up a seat on the picnic tables of Mystic’s Sea View Snack Bar to savor great seafood and a great view.
A Connecticut Tradition
In the first half the 20th century, seafood shacks started popping up all along the east coast, many right on the water, and many others closer to the road, where a new invention — the automobile — would deliver seafood fans in droves. The uniquely decorated Stowe’s Seafood is a West Haven staple. Drop anchor and try one of Stowe’s famous seafood rolls. Overlooking historic Norwalk Harbor, Sono Seaport seafood is a family-oriented waterside restaurant featuring a wide wariety of cuisine since 1983.
Looking for more to do with your dining? Captain’s Cove Seaport in Bridgeport offers walk-up ordering, plenty of dockside dining with amazing views of the harbor, live music and other outdoor attractions. And long-time favorite Lenny & Joes Fish Tale is a seafood restaurant with the heart of a clam shack, having grown from a roadside stand with four picnic tables to a family of two popular restaurant locations in Madison and Westbrook.
Legendary Lobster Rolls
Although many people think of Maine when they hear the word lobster, the lobster roll is a New England classic that actually got its start in Connecticut. The hot-buttered lobster roll we know and love today got its start at a restaurant named Perry’s in Milford in 1934. Today, quite a few Connecticut seafood spots continue the tradition.
Captain Scott’s Lobster Dock in New London is a great place to sample this summertime shoreline staple. As is Noank’s Abbotts Lobster in the Rough, well known for lobster rolls and scenic water views. Further west along the shoreline, Johnny Ad’s in Old Saybrook has been serving seafood, including buttery lobster rolls, for over 50 years. And don’t miss Lobster Landing in Clinton, where they serve lobster from a century-old shack that survived the hurricane of ’38.
You’ll Be Hooked
Whether you stop in on your way to the beach, or make it a destination and linger over lunch, classic clam shacks truly are Connecticut tradition. Of course, all of these are just a small taste of Connecticut’s proud New England seafood heritage. Fish for more ideas here!