These five laid-back spots serve up heaps of fresh lobster, golden-fried clams and other seafood claimed by fishermen in the waters right off the hook-shaped peninsula’s sandy shore. Whether you take your order to go or eat outside at a picnic table, you’re taking part in a beloved tradition—and perhaps starting one of your own.
Opened in 1948, this quaint window-only shack in Brewster, off the scenic Cape Cod Rail Trail (a 22-mile paved walking and biking path), delivers on the quintessential experience with picnic tables and perfectly fried clams. To place your order, you can stand in one of two lanes: One serves seafood (you’ll want to seriously consider the cold lobster roll made with knuckle meat); the other, thick milkshakes and generous scoops of ice cream in all the expected flavors—peanut butter chip, strawberry, chocolate—atop waffle cones. 3260 Main St., Brewster; 508-896-7021; cobies.com; dinner for two, $40*
Chatham Pier Fish Market
This gray-shingled building with white trim is right on the town’s pier and doles out overflowing lobster rolls, fish-and-chips, clam rolls and baskets, and other hearty treats, all to go. During the afternoon, you may see the day’s catch being unloaded just steps away, as seals bob in the water. If you want to bring something back to cook for yourself later, you can also pick up fresh seafood (bluefish, clams and more). 45 Barcliff Ave., Chatham; 508-945-3474; chathampierfishmarket.com; dinner for two, $30
Sesuit Harbor Café
Strung with buoys in blue, red and green, the low-slung shack at the Northside Marina is not short on personality. Need further proof? A canoe sits on its roof. At the picnic tables outside, folks tend to linger for hours over “overstuffed” lobster rolls, New England clam chowder and East Dennis oysters on the half shell in anticipation of watching the sun blaze below the horizon of Cape Cod Bay. 357 Sesuit Neck Rd., Dennis; 508-385-6134; sesuit-harbor-cafe.com; dinner for two, $40
Arnold’s Lobster & Clam Bar
Shucked-on-the-spot oysters and raw-bar clams are so popular here that the line often wraps all the way around back. Unlike most of its ilk, Arnold’s offers not only takeout but also lunch and dinner (think both lobsters and burgers), and there’s a bar dressed up as a beach hut that serves margaritas. Bonus: Kids love the miniature-golf course (and the ice cream, made by Massachusetts’s own Richardson’s Dairy). 3580 U.S. Hwy. 6, Eastham; 508-255-2575; arnoldsrestaurant.com; dinner for two, $40
Liam’s at Nauset Beach
Onion rings are the side to go with your fried clams at Liam’s, which fronts its namesake Orleans beach. In the summer, the popular family-owned shack, named for the owner’s son, goes through 4,000 pounds of fresh onions a week and slices them to order. Take your teeming cardboard box to the green picnic tables; they’re right on the beach so you can dig your toes into the warm sand. 238 Beach Rd., Orleans; 508-255-3474; liamsandkates.com; dinner for two, $30
- *Estimated meal prices do not include drinks, tax, or tip.
- NOTE: Information may have changed since publication. Please confirm key details before planning your trip.
- Published: June 2017