OK, so you want the best seafood in Boston? You have to go to Essex; all of the best clam shacks in one place, and (in my humble opinion) Essex Seafood is the best of the best!
The most famous is Woodman’s of Essex: good, but way too crowded. They claim to have invented the fried clam, but others do it better. J.T. Farnham’s is better. They have some great chowders, excellent onion rings, and very nice outdoor seating overlooking the salt marsh. The Clam Box of Ipswich is in a building shaped to look like a box of fried clams. Some people swear by them, but I'm not impressed.
For fried clams, you just can’t beat Essex Seafood: light and crispy and bursting with sweet briny clam flavor! Their chowder and clam cakes are outstanding as well. We go several times a year and always get the whole belly fried clam plate. It comes with fries and onion rings and is plenty to share for two people with a side of chowder and some clam cakes. There is really no reason to try anything else on the menu, but everything else I have tried has been great as well.
Try them all, but you will come back to Essex Seafood, as I always do. And it’s open all year to boot. Go in the early spring and you will beat the crowds of summer. Regardless, it will be less crowded than Woodman’s, and way better!