There are some things that are uniquely New England: foliage, fluffernutter sandwiches, and clam chowder. While places to enjoy a bowl are truly a dime a dozen, you’ll be a lot better off if you know where to go for the crème de la crème.
Union Oyster House (Boston, MA)
You can’t go wrong with anything you order at the Union Oyster House—it’s one of Boston’s best (and oldest) restaurants, serving seafood since 1826. Not only is the atmosphere elegant and upscale, but you’re steps away from bustling Faneuil Hall, a must-visit attraction while you’re in town.
Island Creek Oyster Bar (Boston and Burlington, MA)
With two Boston-area locations, Island Creek is one of the top spots around for all types of seafood, including its namesake. Their clam chowder, available in a cup or bowl, is the perfect order to, um, tide you over until the main event.
Gilbert’s Chowder House (Portland, ME)
Ask any Maine resident how they get through the often-brutal winters, and their answer will likely involve some sort of comfort food. Gilbert’s Chowder House specializes in warm and hearty bowls of clam, fish, corn, and seafood chowder, along with lobster rolls, haddock sandwiches, and hot dogs.
S&P Oyster Co. (Mystic, CT)
The water views here are just as good as the food, which also includes Faroe Island salmon, lobster alfredo, and shrimp scampi risotto. In addition to clam chowder, you can get oyster stew and gazpacho.
Bigelow’s New England Fried Clams (Rockville Centre, NY)
It might seem sacrilegious to recommend a restaurant for clam chowder that’s not in New England, but this one deserves recognition. Yes, they also serve the “other” chowder (Manhattan), but the New England version is rich, creamy, and perfect for those late-summer and early-fall days when you need something to take the chill off.