Denmo’s is a happy drive-in with picnic-table seats and an eat-in-the-rough style of service. Wait in line at one of two order windows. While waiting, peruse the posted permanent menu (fried clams and shrimp, hamburgers and hot dogs, grilled cheese sandwiches and Philly cheese steaks) as well as cards tacked around the menu announcing seasonal and daily specials (soft-shelled crabs, hot lobster roll, soup of the day). When your turn comes, tell the order-taker what you want, pay for it, and get a number. Then loiter around the third window waiting for your number to be called. While waiting, there is excellent reading material available: a huge communal bulletin board, where locals post notices of services and goods for sale and interesting events coming up. The meal is presented on a tray. Dining accommodations are picnic tables around the side or in back. When the weather is bad, people eat in their cars.
You expect fried seafood to be good in a place such as this, and it is more than good. The clams – available in the gooey whole-belly configuration or as the chewier and less oceanic “clam strips” – are crisp-crusted and big-flavored. Shrimp are large, firm, and sweet, and there are plenty to an order. The hot lobster roll, a Southern New England specialty that differs from the Downeast mayonnaise-bound cold lobster salad roll, comes loaded with meat that can be (but is not always) utterly fresh. Onion rings and French fries (the latter available either straight or curly) are good, too. We are perpetually wowed by the soups, which are made here daily. Chowder, beef barley, and lentil soup are exemplary; and although they are served in Styrofoam cups with plastic spoons, they have quality and flavor that is anything but cheap.
Denmo’s also is known for its ice cream, which is good; but by the time we’ve sucked down an excellent chocolate milk shake with a fried clam dinner and a hot relish-dressed foot long dog, we’re seldom peckish enough for an ice cream cone.