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Monday, December 29, 2014

Woodman's in Essex, Mass., the Birthplace of the Fried Clam

Woodman's Seafood Restaurant in Essex, Mass., is a household name in New England, and with good reason: its founder Lawrence "Chubby" Woodman invented the fried clam here more than 100 years ago.

Today, Woodman's is a thriving  local and tourist favorite that also specializes in lobster, lobster rolls, New England clam chowder and other seafood, but it is the fried clam that impresses me most. Yes, New England offers many great seafood shacks for fried clams, but for some reason Woodman's seems a notch above the elite destinations. They just know what they are doing, and the heaping portions further help the matter.

I think Zagat sums Woodman's up best:  "A cult classic—right up there with baseball and apple pie, this Essex icon is an enduring American cult favorite." Forbes FYI also acknowledged Woodman's as having "the best seafood in America." I'm quite sure both media outlets factored in the fried clam when speaking so highly of this North Shore of Massachusetts dining and catering gem.

While the media accolades are nice, it is the constant year-round crowds that truly confirm this seafood shack's greatness. Success surely could have gone to Woodman's head, but thankfully this fried clam destination never became a shell of itself!

Woodman's Seafood Restaurant is located at 121 Main St. in Essex MA. Tel. (978) 768-6057


Editor's note: I recently read Woodman's of Essex: Five Generations of Stories, 100 Years of Recipes. It's really a wonderful book that is not only filled with great stories and recipes, but also an ode to a hard-working family residing in a beautiful coastal, close-knit town.  I highly recommend you read the book!

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