Arnold’s Lobster and Clam Bar

Review by: Maggie Rosenberg & Trevor Hagstrom

Inspired by Arnold’s Drive-In from the television show Happy Days, Arnold’s of Eastham has become one of the most famous lunch stops on Cape Cod. Today, it doesn’t much resemble TV Arnold’s; there isn’t even a juke box. It hardly is recognizable as a 1950s diner. In over four decades it has evolved into a seafood-centric stop known especially for fried clams. An ice cream stand, raw bar, and mini-golf course were all added to help entertain booming summer crowds.

Sure, the place is hokey, but we can’t remember eating better fried fish anywhere. We wanted to try it all, so we got the fried seafood platter for two. It is a showcase of Cape Cod aquaculture that includes cod from Chatham, Wellfleet scallops, and “native” whole belly clams. All of the fish is lightly battered and fried golden. Simple crunchy batter allows briny seafood to provide most of the seasoning. Oysters and whole belly clams are large, fully intact, and juicy. Shrimp and squid are plump and bouncy, but tender. Cod and scallops are so moist that their juices eat through the batter, but we don’t mind this; they are still utterly delicious. We’d recommend getting this same platter, everything on it is great except for humdrum fries. Even the coleslaw is remarkable, including some dried cranberries that add Cape flavor. You get only a little ramekin of the slaw, so we recommend getting extra on the side.

Arnold’s also is known for onion rings, of which the menu boasts they sell a ton a week. They are the flaky, brittle style popular across New England. As a rule, this type of onion ring tends to be too heavy on under-seasoned batter. But Arnold’s crisp, delicate version makes a strong case for the New England way of doing it. They are light and flaky and challenge you to finish the giant basket. 

After consuming such a mighty pile of fried food we hadn’t the energy to putter along for even just nine holes of mini-golf, but judging by the crowds, the course is a minor attraction itself. Between the ice cream and the mini-golf, this is obviously a favorite place to bring kids, whose meals can be had served on a Frisbee. For adults, beer and bivalves are served at the raw bar.

What To Eat

Fried Seafood Platter

Onion Rings


Arnold’s Lobster and Clam Bar Recipes


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