If you worship at the altar of the fried clam, Woodman’s in Essex MA is the place to pay homage to this summer treat. I imagine the faithful genuflect or bow down at the sight of this mighty mollusk.
Woodman’s has been in business since 1914 and its claim to fame is that its owner “Chubby” Woodman invented the fried clam in 1916 – and I can’t thank him enough! If you want to get that authentic “in the rough” seafood dining experience Woodman’s is your place.
Ordering can be a bit confusing for first timers as the place is entirely self serve. Get in one line for food, another line for drinks. Claim your table and wait for your number to be called and then pick up your food at the window.
You can sit inside at one of the wooden booths or head outside under the tent that is set up alongside the Essex river. Just note that while you can purchase and drink beer and wine inside, alcohol isn’t allowed outside the building.
Here’s my idea of pure summer heaven:
(Lest you think I managed to fit 2 fried clam meals into one visit to Massachusetts, never fear, dear reader. This time I was lucky enough to be accompanied on my trip home by my Retro RoadHusband, who loves to eat Retro Roadfood as much as I do!)
RRH is into the sides, so he opted for fries, onion rings and slaw with his clams. I stayed true to the course with fried clams and lobster (a birthday indulgence) as I always fill up faster than I think I will. And in the words of my late father-in-law Bob, “Don’t fill up on the cheap stuff!”
Our food was incredibly tasty, and it was fun to look around as we were eating, at the local folks in business suits having lunch, the families on vacation, and overhear foodies from NYC dissect their meals. And to realize that all of us were becoming a part of the history of Woodman’s, like photos that cover the walls.
The lines can be long in the summer weekends so there are some benches set up for the pilgrims. We were there on a Monday so it was much more manageable.
To me this place is as summertime as it gets, and even though I was stuffed and shiny with fried, I was – HA! Happy as a clam at Woodman’s.