Best Fried Seafood on Cape Cod
For many people, no vacation on Cape Cod is complete without at least a few fried clams, scallops, or fish and chips. There are numerous options for fried seafood from one end of the Cape to the other, and most of them are quite good.
The three restaurants I've listed below, which consistently receive high marks from both locals and tourists, are my personal favorites. A map and directions to all of them are at the end of the article.
PJ's Family Restaurant, Wellfleet, MA
If your journey takes you to the outer Cape, perhaps to visit Highland Lighthouse, the Wellfleet Drive-In or the Pilgrim Monument in Provincetown, you should make PJ's Family Restaurant in Wellfleet part of your plans. The restaurant, owned and operated by the Reeves family since 1971, offers some of the best fried seafood on Cape Cod.
PJ's extensive menu also includes boiled lobster and broiled or grilled seafood, as well as non-seafood items including burgers, fried chicken, and others. Soups include clam chowder (of course), chili, and kale soup, a portuguese soup containing meat, beans, kale, and other vegetables that is a real treat (I never go to PJ's without ordering the kale soup). For dessert, PJ's has both regular and soft-serve ice cream.
PJ's has some shaded picnic tables for outside seating, and a small indoor section in back. For more info: PJ's Family Restaurant.
Kream n' Kone, West Dennis, MA
The original Kream n' Kone opened in 1953. As the name suggests, it was originally an ice cream stand, but the menu soon expanded to include other items. In addition to fried seafood, Kream n' Kone offers broiled seafood dinners, served with rice pilaf and coleslaw, as well as burgers, fries, and chicken. The soup menu is limited to clam chowder - but it's excellent chowder. The restaurant was purchased by the Argyriadis family in 1990, but the original recipes, quality and service have remained.
The fried seafood is as good as you'll get anywhere, but the real treat here are the onion rings - the best anywhere (in my humble opinion). Portions are huge. If you're not big eaters, one fried seafood plate may feed two people. For dessert you can have soft-serve ice cream or a frappe (Massachusetts for milkshake).
Kream n' Kone moved to a new location in 2003, after a fire at the original location. The new restaurant is larger, with more indoor seating, as well as outdoor seating on a patio overlooking Swan River. For more info: Kream n' Kone website.
Whole Clams vs Clam Strips
Most fried seafood restaurants offer whole fried clams and fried clam strips. Whole clams are made from soft-shell clams. The entire clam is cooked, including the belly, which creates a soft, often gritty, texture and briney flavor. Clam strips are made from the larger, meatier hard-shell clams (quahogs), which are chopped up into strips.
Some people find the belly to be a difficult flavor and texture to appreciate, while others insist that only whole clams are "real" clams. Personally, I think that whole clams and strips are both great, and you should just eat what you like. If you've never had fried clams before, clam strips are probably a safer bet, but if you're a little more adventurous, you might find whole clams to be a pleasant surprise.
Seafood Sam's, Falmouth and Sandwich, MA
For those who don't venture out quite so far on the Cape, Seafood Sam's, with locations in Sandwich and Falmouth, is an excellent choice for fried seafood. The original Seafood Sam's, which opened in 1974, is gone, but the current locations are owned by employees of the original restaurant, and are just as good.
The menu is varied, with some surprising options, including a vegetarian pasta platter and Cape Cod gazpacho soup. The fried seafood is very good, and baked, broiled or steamed items are also available. If you go at mid-day, look for the daily Blue Plate Lunch Special. There's also a Seafood Sam's in Yarmouth, but I personally like Kream n' Kone (reviewed above), which is only 3 miles down the road, just a little bit better. For more info: Seafood Sam's.
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Cape Cod Casual Dining
Needless to say, these are casual restaurants, not fine dining establishments. The atmosphere can get a little noisy when they're crowded, especially when families with children are present, but that's to be expected on Cape Cod in the summertime.
Have you found another spot for fried seafood on Cape Cod that is worthy of mention? Use the comments area below to tell us about it.