Clam Chowder Roundup

Choose a local venue and order a bowl!



©og-vision/istockphoto

Always abundant along the Northeast coast, clams are the central feature for most local chowders. These hearty, warming soups are perfect for lunch or as a starter for the main meal when the temperature cools.

While Connecticut’s favorite is definitely New England clam chowder — chopped clams in a cream-and-potato thickened broth with (depending on the chef) minced onion, chopped celery, bacon bits, bay leaf or other herbs — several local venues offer a choice. Manhattan clam chowder is made with tomatoes rather than cream, and Rhode Island clam chowder has a clear broth; both vary in taste depending on the vegetables and herbs that are added to the pot. 

Like stew pots, every chowder pot seems to have a slightly different blend. Real shellfish fans look for chowders in which the clams are the primary ingredient—not the potatoes or the broth. Some like their chowder thick, others not so much. Some like the ingredients finely chopped, others like big pieces of clam and chunks of potatoes. So, start your own search with this short list:

Stamford

Mitchell’s Fish Market

For the downtown lunch crowd or shoppers taking a break, this cheerfully loud and busy restaurant offers New England clam chowder by the cup or bowl. Located in the Stamford Town Center.

Norwalk

SoNo Seaport Seafood

By the shore in South Norwalk, this restaurant has been going strong year-round for nearly 30 years. New England and Manhattan chowders served by the cup or bowl.

Rowayton

The Restaurant at Rowayton Seafood 

You’ll find New England clam chowder by the cup or bowl in this charming place. Add a glass of wine and fill your tummy while you enjoy the beautiful view of the Five Mile River, just a few steps from the restaurant. You may want to linger for another course or two.

Westport

The Mansion Clam House

In a little old house on Riverside Avenue that was once just a clam shack, the Mansion Clam House offers all three varieties — New England, Manhattan, and Rhode Island — in cup or bowl. They’ve got a great by-the-glass wine list, too.

Westfair Fish and Chips

This restaurant has very humble quarters, with a few outside tables in good weather, and an indoor counter with a table or two. But don’t let looks deceive; the chowders—New England and Rhode Island, are fresh and expertly made, and the place has a big following for all of its prepared seafood and shellfish. Road Foodies Jane and Michael Stern sing its praises — and it’s this writer’s not-so-secret favorite, too.

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