Eat Where New England’s Hottest Tradition Was Born
There’s nothing like biting into a steamy fried clam roll while sitting on the beach overlooking Sakonnet River, the juiciness of the oyster seeping out to form the ultimate creamy combination with homemade mayonnaise. It’s hard to believe this sandwich, one of our most illustrious traditions, was all but unfathomable at the dawn of the 1900s when New Englanders only ate their clams steamed, raw on the half shell, or chopped in chowder.
But in 1936, thanks to Flo of Flo’s Clam Shack and Drive-In, this savory moment of culinary greatness was made possible when she moved a chicken coop from her farm to Island Beach Park in Portsmouth to begin serving up the shack’s signature fried clams. Since then, the shack has weathered 6 hurricanes, rebuilding time and time again, and New Englanders everywhere continue to seek the eatery for the freshest, most tender and plump clams in the Northeast—always lightly tossed in batter and fried.
Since I moved to Newport in 1991, I’ve brought all of my family and friends to the Shack’s gravel parking lot; we sit under the green canopy of the bamboo-lined boardwalk and order direct from the counter. Myself, like generations of locals, can’t wait for the Shack to open each March; likewise, we lament to see the shop close and the venerable sign change to “See you in the Spring” each Halloween night. Just a walk off the beach or a short drive from The Vanderbilt, there’s no greater nostalgic outpost than the Shack, where you can enjoy the freshest clams and idyllic view of the Atlantic.