Essex Seafood

Review by: Michael Stern

Essex Seafood is primarily a lobster pound where you can buy them live or already boiled and ready to eat. Adjacent to the market and the big holding pens is a quiet dining room with a window to the kitchen. This is the order window, where you select from a straightforward menu of various-sized lobster dinners, as well as fried clams, scallops, and shrimp, plus chowder and corn on the cob. The lobsters are impeccably fresh; and the fried seafood plates are beautiful to behold: a layer of French fried potatoes, topped with a layer of onion rings, topped with a heap of your seafood of choice. Eat inside, at booths in the wood-paneled dining room that is decorated with charming nautical bric-a-brac, or choose a green-painted picnic table outdoors in back – a breezy retreat from Route 133 near the Essex-Gloucester town line.

Service is eat-in-the-rough, and everything is cooked to order, so you may have a wait if you get a good-size lobster, or even a fried haddock plate. This provides ample time to dip into a bowl of clam chowder: buttery and creamy, but not at all artificially thickened, and redolent of the perfect ocean ‘n’ oink harmony of chopped clams and a salt-pork base. Also take the opportunity while waiting to help yourself to pickly tartar sauce, ketchup, and ice water – all available at a self-service bar at the back of the dining room.

You will have a simple meal; in our experience, a flawless meal: exactly why we like eating our way along Cape Ann.

What To Eat

fried clams

Clam Chowder


Essex Seafood Recipes


What do you think of Essex Seafood?

2 Responses to “Essex Seafood”

Todd Madar

April 5th, 2008

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!


Tom Davis

July 16th, 2005

Essex Seafood seemed to be more of a fried seafood platter type restaurant than a lobster pound to me. We tried to order 2 lb lobsters but what they offered were up to 1 1/2 lbs, or they had a 4 1/4 lb lobster which we ordered at $13.00 per lb – a kind of bad move on our part for it defeated the purpose of having a moderately priced meal. Also, the large lobster was a little tough. We also ordered a combo clam and haddock basket that was great.

Our bill was upwards of $90.00, so just don’t do what we did. Order the fried fish baskets with tasty fries and onion rings – or a two 1 lb lobster platter for $25.95. There were quite a few other patrons and everyone ordered the fried fish baskets, not lobster. Go to Chauncey Chauncy Creek Lobster Pound in Kittery Point for a great lobster experience.


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Woodman’s of Essex

Essex, MA

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