Woodman’s of Essex

Clam Shack | Lobster Pound | Seafood
One of the best

Woodman’s claims to be the place where the fried clam was invented — on Independence Day weekend in 1916. The story is that Lawrence Woodman tried to drum up business by tossing clams into the deep fryer along with the Saratoga chips he was selling at his clam bar. Who knows if the story is true? Who cares? The fact is that Woodman’s is today the Big Kahuna of North Shore clam shacks.

Located in the heart of the clam belt, where towns have bivavular names like Ipswich and Little Neck, Woodman’s defines a whole style of informal Yankee gastronomy. It is called “eat in the rough” around here, which means you stand at a counter, yell your order through the commotion, then wait for your number to be called. The food is served on cardboard plates with plastic forks. Carry it to a table … and pray that you can find a table that is not occupied. In the summer especially, Woodman’s can be insanely crowded.

If your experience eating fried seafood means a vaguely ocean-flavored morsel of food inside a thick gob of breading, Woodman’s clams (and all its fried shellfish) will be a shock. The crust on a Woodman’s clam is lush and crunchy, but it exists only to play harmony to the sweet, soft lode of marine goodness it contains. Although Woodman’s clams are available by the pint, or on a bun (known as a clam roll), the preferred way to enjoy them is as a platter, which means accompanied by both French fries and onion rings. It’s a deep-fried pig-out beyond any nutritional law or reason!

What to Eat
Woodman’s of Essex, Fried Clams
Fried Clams
Woodman's fried clams are among the best.
Woodman’s of Essex, Clam Fritters
Clam Fritters
Clam cakes sport red-gold crust that is wicked-good.
Woodman’s of Essex, Lobster
Woodman's is as much a lobster house as a clam shack.
Directions and Hours
closed now
Sunday11 am - 9 pm
Monday11 am - 9 pm
Tuesday11 am - 9 pm
Wednesday11 am - 9 pm
Thursday11 am - 9 pm
Friday11 am - 10 pm
Saturday11 am - 10 pm
Open Year Round
Meals Served
Lunch, Dinner
Credit Cards Accepted
Alcohol Served
Outdoor Seating

Other Nearby Restaurants

  • Blink’s Fry Doe

    Hampton, New Hampshire

    Blink’s is a popular stand on the Hampton, New Hampshire, boardwalk, selling long strips of fried dough with creative toppings.

  • Lyndell’s Bakery

    Somerville, Massachusetts

    Lyndell’s of Somerville, Massachusetts is one of America’s oldest bakeries, known for dense buttercream frosting and soft sponge cakes.

  • Virgilio’s

    Gloucester, Massachusetts

    Bread baked on site forms the base for unique and memorable sandwiches at Virgilio’s of Gloucester. The bakery’s desserts are also a must-try.

  • Bob’s Clam Hut

    Kittery, Maine

    Maine shoreline summertime seafood, eat-in-the-rough style. Bob’s clam plates and clam rolls, scallops, shrimp, and lobster rolls are Yankee bests.

  • Nick’s Famous Roast Beef

    Beverly, Massachusetts

    A well-stacked pile of soft pink roast beef inside a giant rectangular roll studded with onion has made Nick’s a north-of-Boston legend.

  • Cutty’s

    Brookline, Massachusetts

    Cutty’s Roast Beef 1000 with fried shallots is the best Boston roast beef sandwich; Saturday’s pork rabe has no peers.