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legal sea foods clam chowder
The preferred clam chowder of US presidents
Legal Sea Foods/Facebook

Where to Eat New England Clam Chowder in Boston

Yes, you’ll probably hear it called “chowda,” but you don’t have to follow suit

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The preferred clam chowder of US presidents
| Legal Sea Foods/Facebook

In an episode of The Simpsons called “The Boy Who Knew Too Much,” writer John Swartzwelder introduces a character named Freddy Quimby, the nephew of bumbling Springfield mayor Joe Quimby. Like his uncle, Freddy Quimby speaks with a thick Boston accent — the Quimbys are modeled after the Kennedys — and when he asks a server at a dinner party for some chowder, he pronounces it as “chowda.” When the server, who is French, pronounces it otherwise, Quimby mocks him and then becomes enraged, eventually following the server into the kitchen to, we assume, assault him.

Freddy Quimby winds up in court, but he beats all the charges and is set free to do whatever it is rich people do after they beat assault and battery charges. Presumably, he continues calling chowder “chowda” at the very least (but he probably also winds up in the US Senate, where he eventually votes against a $15 minimum wage because he despises Springfield’s working class).

All of this is to say that many Bostonians pronounce chowder humorously, which is especially humorous because the city is lousy with the stuff, and so opportunities to hear a Bostonian say “chowda” are manifold.

Here are 12 of the best places in Boston proper to eat clam chowder — and also to inevitably hear someone say “chowda.”

Please note that a number of Massachusetts restaurants have resumed dine-in service, and the level of service offered is indicated on each map point. However, this should not be taken as endorsement for dining in, as there are still safety concerns: For updated information on coronavirus cases in the area, please visit the Massachusetts coronavirus website.

Studies indicate that there is a lower exposure risk when outdoors, but the level of risk involved with patio dining is contingent on restaurants following strict social distancing and other safety guidelines.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.
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The Warren Tavern

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If you’re checking out the Bunker Hill Monument, you might as well swing by the Warren Tavern — allegedly the oldest tavern in the state — to grab some clam chowder.

Warren Tavern is open for indoor dining, takeout, and delivery.

Light illuminates a sign for Warren Tavern, a Charlestown pub founded in 1780
Good chowder in a really old tavern
Warren Tavern/Facebook

Neptune Oyster

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What can be written about Neptune Oyster that hasn’t already been written? The oysters are great; the lobster roll is great; the clam chowder is also great. Expect a line; wait in that line.

Neptune is open for indoor dining and takeout.

Several diners wait outside Neptune Oyster in the North End, huddled in fall coats under the royal blue awning.
These folks are after the clam chowder
Terrence B. Doyle/Eater

Union Oyster House

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Union Oyster House is very old, and it has a reputation as a tourist trap, but the chowder passes muster. Avoid the gift shop.

Union Oyster is open for indoor dining (reserve here) and takeout.

union oyster house
This tourist trap is pricey, but the chowder is solid
Union Oyster House/Facebook

Ned Devine's

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The chowder at this Faneuil Hall pub isn’t just good; in fact, it’s award-winning.

Ned Devine’s is open for indoor dining, takeout, and delivery.

Ned Devine’s
There’s still time for patio hangs and chowder lunches
Ned Devine’s/Facebook

Boston Chowda Co.

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This would no doubt be Freddy Quimby’s favorite chowder joint. Get yours served in a bread bowl the size of a cow’s head.

Boston Chowda Co. is open for takeout.

Boston Chowda Co. Quincy Market
Bread bowl filled with heavy cream and clams, anyone?
Terrence B. Doyle/Eater

James Hook & Co.

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It’s not all lobsters at James Hook & Co. (though you should try the lobster roll).

James Hook & Co. is open for indoor dining, takeout, and delivery.

james hook & co
Get a lobster roll and some chowder at James Hook & Co.
James Hook/Facebook

The Barking Crab

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Another tourist trap, but one of the good ones. You’ll spend a fair amount of money at the Barking Crab, but the food is good, so you’ll leave satisfied if a little lighter in the pockets.

The Barking Crab is open for onsite dining and takeout.

Barking Crab patio
A tourist trap, but a good one
Barking Crab [Official Photo]

At $11, the Row 34 clam chowder is an expensive chowder, but it’s a treat.

Row 34 is open for takeout and delivery.

row 34
Row 34 is a spot for “elevated” clam chowder
Row 34/Facebook

Atlantic Fish Co.

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If it’s people-watching you’re after, there are few spots better equipped to sate your needs than the patio at Atlantic Fish Co. It’s been doing its thing for 40 years, and it’s got the clam chowder recipe down pat.

Atlantic Fish CO. is open for indoor dining, takeout, and delivery.

atlantic fish co.
Go for the chowder, stay for the exceptional people watching
Atlantic Fish Co./Facebook

Legal Harborside

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This place is a “meet market” and a tourist trap and an amusement park disguised as a seafood restaurant — but the chowder, which has been on many presidential inaugural menus dating back to 1981, is as good as it gets.

Legal Harborside is open for indoor dining, takeout, and delivery.

A waterfront view of Legal Harborside at dusk, with a final bit of sun peeking over the horizon.
Some very good ocean views
Legal Harborside/Facebook

Yankee Lobster

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Make sure to snack on some clam chowder and a lobster roll at Yankee Lobster. Both are excellent.

Yankee Lobster is open for takeout and delivery.

Yankee Lobster Co.
Yep, that’s Guy Fieri’s car
Yankee Lobster/Facebook

B&G Oysters

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Another oyster joint, another top-notch clam chowder. B&G uses bacon lardons in its chowder and tops it with spicy croutons, which is a nice touch and a welcome departure from the more traditional oyster crackers.

B&G is open for indoor dining, takeout, and delivery. Diners must make a reservation for indoor dining. Diners can also reserve a private dining experience at sister restaurant Stir, which is just across Waltham Street.

B&G Oysters
More oysters; more chowder
B&G Oysters/Facebook

The Warren Tavern

Light illuminates a sign for Warren Tavern, a Charlestown pub founded in 1780
Good chowder in a really old tavern
Warren Tavern/Facebook

If you’re checking out the Bunker Hill Monument, you might as well swing by the Warren Tavern — allegedly the oldest tavern in the state — to grab some clam chowder.

Warren Tavern is open for indoor dining, takeout, and delivery.

Light illuminates a sign for Warren Tavern, a Charlestown pub founded in 1780
Good chowder in a really old tavern
Warren Tavern/Facebook

Neptune Oyster

Several diners wait outside Neptune Oyster in the North End, huddled in fall coats under the royal blue awning.
These folks are after the clam chowder
Terrence B. Doyle/Eater

What can be written about Neptune Oyster that hasn’t already been written? The oysters are great; the lobster roll is great; the clam chowder is also great. Expect a line; wait in that line.

Neptune is open for indoor dining and takeout.

Several diners wait outside Neptune Oyster in the North End, huddled in fall coats under the royal blue awning.
These folks are after the clam chowder
Terrence B. Doyle/Eater

Union Oyster House

union oyster house
This tourist trap is pricey, but the chowder is solid
Union Oyster House/Facebook

Union Oyster House is very old, and it has a reputation as a tourist trap, but the chowder passes muster. Avoid the gift shop.

Union Oyster is open for indoor dining (reserve here) and takeout.

union oyster house
This tourist trap is pricey, but the chowder is solid
Union Oyster House/Facebook

Ned Devine's

Ned Devine’s
There’s still time for patio hangs and chowder lunches
Ned Devine’s/Facebook

The chowder at this Faneuil Hall pub isn’t just good; in fact, it’s award-winning.

Ned Devine’s is open for indoor dining, takeout, and delivery.

Ned Devine’s
There’s still time for patio hangs and chowder lunches
Ned Devine’s/Facebook

Boston Chowda Co.

Boston Chowda Co. Quincy Market
Bread bowl filled with heavy cream and clams, anyone?
Terrence B. Doyle/Eater

This would no doubt be Freddy Quimby’s favorite chowder joint. Get yours served in a bread bowl the size of a cow’s head.

Boston Chowda Co. is open for takeout.

Boston Chowda Co. Quincy Market
Bread bowl filled with heavy cream and clams, anyone?
Terrence B. Doyle/Eater

James Hook & Co.

james hook & co
Get a lobster roll and some chowder at James Hook & Co.
James Hook/Facebook

It’s not all lobsters at James Hook & Co. (though you should try the lobster roll).

James Hook & Co. is open for indoor dining, takeout, and delivery.

james hook & co
Get a lobster roll and some chowder at James Hook & Co.
James Hook/Facebook

The Barking Crab

Barking Crab patio
A tourist trap, but a good one
Barking Crab [Official Photo]

Another tourist trap, but one of the good ones. You’ll spend a fair amount of money at the Barking Crab, but the food is good, so you’ll leave satisfied if a little lighter in the pockets.

The Barking Crab is open for onsite dining and takeout.

Barking Crab patio
A tourist trap, but a good one
Barking Crab [Official Photo]

Row 34

row 34
Row 34 is a spot for “elevated” clam chowder
Row 34/Facebook

At $11, the Row 34 clam chowder is an expensive chowder, but it’s a treat.

Row 34 is open for takeout and delivery.

row 34
Row 34 is a spot for “elevated” clam chowder
Row 34/Facebook

Atlantic Fish Co.

atlantic fish co.
Go for the chowder, stay for the exceptional people watching
Atlantic Fish Co./Facebook

If it’s people-watching you’re after, there are few spots better equipped to sate your needs than the patio at Atlantic Fish Co. It’s been doing its thing for 40 years, and it’s got the clam chowder recipe down pat.

Atlantic Fish CO. is open for indoor dining, takeout, and delivery.

atlantic fish co.
Go for the chowder, stay for the exceptional people watching
Atlantic Fish Co./Facebook

Legal Harborside

A waterfront view of Legal Harborside at dusk, with a final bit of sun peeking over the horizon.
Some very good ocean views
Legal Harborside/Facebook

This place is a “meet market” and a tourist trap and an amusement park disguised as a seafood restaurant — but the chowder, which has been on many presidential inaugural menus dating back to 1981, is as good as it gets.

Legal Harborside is open for indoor dining, takeout, and delivery.

A waterfront view of Legal Harborside at dusk, with a final bit of sun peeking over the horizon.
Some very good ocean views
Legal Harborside/Facebook

Yankee Lobster

Yankee Lobster Co.
Yep, that’s Guy Fieri’s car
Yankee Lobster/Facebook

Make sure to snack on some clam chowder and a lobster roll at Yankee Lobster. Both are excellent.

Yankee Lobster is open for takeout and delivery.

Yankee Lobster Co.
Yep, that’s Guy Fieri’s car
Yankee Lobster/Facebook

B&G Oysters

B&G Oysters
More oysters; more chowder
B&G Oysters/Facebook

Another oyster joint, another top-notch clam chowder. B&G uses bacon lardons in its chowder and tops it with spicy croutons, which is a nice touch and a welcome departure from the more traditional oyster crackers.

B&G is open for indoor dining, takeout, and delivery. Diners must make a reservation for indoor dining. Diners can also reserve a private dining experience at sister restaurant Stir, which is just across Waltham Street.

B&G Oysters
More oysters; more chowder
B&G Oysters/Facebook

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