Evelyn’s is a summer-only drive-in with a very pleasant outdoor dining area: a row of covered picnic tables perched over Sakonnet Bay with a view of pleasure boats and the Newport shores. Outdoor dining is strictly self-service – carry your own food from the order window. We actually saw one couple spread a tablecloth and open their own wine to accompany lobster plates.
Regular customers tend to eat inside at tables and a short counter, where the view is of each other, and where the air is filled with conversation and the hum of air conditioning (rather than the lap of water and the screech of seagulls). We noted that many of the locals order non-seafood meals from the broad menu: meat loaf, burgers, chicken pie, and one local oddity we cannot resist: a chow mein sandwich. It is a plate of frizzled-crisp Hoo Mee brand chow mein noodles, soy-sauce gravy, and vegetables (beef optional) with a hamburger bun floating in it. It is weird and wonderful in its multicultural way.
For many summertime travelers, Evelyn’s is a destination seafood shack, where the blackboard menu lists market prices for fried clams, scallops, and lobster. Scallops and clams are available in small and large size plates, the large being immense. In our experience, the clams are extraordinary uniform in shape – the classic diamond-ring formation, with a chewy hoop and a gooey belly. The lobster roll, available with butter or mayonnaise served on the side, is pretty good, but we wish the meat were more chunky than shredded. Chowder and clamcakes makes a nice single-digit-priced meal – market prices for seafood easily can dispossess your of a $20 bill or more. You do want to reserve a little cash to splurge on the Rhode Island favorite for dessert: Grape-Nuts pudding.