I’m a native New Englander, who, since leaving Connecticut for college and a grown-up life, finds herself worshipping fried clams. I talk about them constantly and have even written about fried clams for Chicken Soup For The Soul. I’m obsessed. That’s probably because it’s not easy to curb the craving when you live in Pittsburgh. Sorry my Western Pennsylvania friends, but fried clams are not Mrs. Paul’s fried clam strips. Fried clams are juicy whole belly clams that the faint of heart shun and no restaurant in Western PA, Ohio, or West Virginia, has the courage to put on their menu.
Every return visit to the coast, means a few fried clam expeditions. The older I get, the worse the weight repercussions, so it’s a good thing I only get there about six times a year. Nonetheless, I know where to find the best seafood in Southern Connecticut. Here are 5 of my favorites. Just promise me you’ll let me cut in front if you join the line.
1. Lenny’s Indian Head Inn in Branford, CT
Lenny’s is my new favorite, although it’s been serving up seafood to locals and the yachting crowd since 1968. We had a wonderful Christmas Eve dinner there, where I enjoyed…fried clams!
2. The U.S.S. Chowder Pot in Branford, CT
A local favorite and tourist must see, this nautically hokey establishment has legendary food and (during tourist season) huge lines. Plenty of fish and non-seafood options. It’s the building with the big lobster on the roof. The Chowder Pot II is located in Hartford.
3. Lenny And Joe’s Fish Tale in Westbrook and Madison, CT
They’ve been serving up some of the best seafood since I was a kid. Enjoy your clams and a carousel ride if you head to the self-serve Madison location. If you prefer to be waited on, head to the Westbrook Lenny and Joe’s.
4. Dockside Seafood & Grill (formerly Sam’s Dockside) in Branford, CT
Located on a marina, this fun summer time destination brings you clams and other yummy options on the water.
5. Doody’s Totoket Inn in North Branford, CT
This family style restaurant and bar doesn’t always offer fried clams, but when they do, you’ll never be disappointed. Their wonderful iceberg wedge salads are almost as fabulous as the clams.