Abbott’s Lobster in the Rough
Noank, (860) 536-7719, abbottslobster.com
You can count on Abbott’s to deliver in every way that’s important. This iconic BYOB spot for all things lobster—from bisque to lobster rolls and lobster dinners—is open every day from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. between Memorial Day and Labor Day, and then on weekends through Columbus Day. There’s good reason why Abbott’s lobster rolls have been named the best of the best many times over, but don’t overlook things like the clam chowder, crab cakes, steamed clams, mussels, oysters on the half shell and more. And the setting on the water … well, you get the idea.
Flanders Fish Market & Restaurant
East Lyme, (860) 739-8866, flandersfish.com
Flanders is a bit more restaurant than roadside spot, but it’s a Connecticut classic that merits the attention of anyone on the road exploring the arts, culture and heritage of southeastern Connecticut. All the staples are on the menu, done exceptionally well, and if you have a big appetite, head to Flanders for its Sunday seafood brunch.
Hub’s Clam Shack
Groton, (860) 446-CLAM
It’s the real thing, a seafood shack. A Facebook post from the past says it all: “Fried oysters, whole clams, strips, Stonington scallops, shrimp, clam fritters, fresh fish, calamari, lobster rolls, ice cream, chicken wings and more! Always at the best price around . . . come check out our kids menu. $4.99 includes drink, meal, kids ice cream.”
Sea View Snack Bar
Mystic, (860) 245-2553, seaviewsnackbar.com
Sea View calls itself “Mystic’s premier riverside restaurant.” Never mind whether the designation is lofty for a roadside place. The important part is that all the seafood is caught and delivered fresh daily at this spot that has been family-owned and -operated since 1976. Try the Ipswich whole clams served in a toasted hotdog roll—or anything else.
Sea Swirl of Mystic
Mystic, (860) 536-3452, seaswirlofmystic.com
The Sea Swirl is “famous for seafood, chowder, ice cream and more,” and offers “a casual Clam-Shack atmosphere on the flood tide of the Mystic River.” If fried seafood isn’t your thing, try a foot-long hotdog, Albacore tuna melt or Rhode Island Broth Chowder.
New London, (860) 447-1301, freds-shanty.com
Located on the waterfront on Pequot Avenue in New London, Fred’s Shanty dishes up “Jumbo Lobster Salad Rolls,” fried clams, Stonington scallops and handmade hamburgers, along with “Famous Long Roessler Hot Dogs” and soft-serve and Hershey’s ice cream.
Costello’s Clam Shack
Noank, (860) 572-2779, costellosclamshack.com
Parents will appreciate the BYOB aspect of Costello’s, not to mention the classic seafood dishes—you can even get clam fritters here—and for younger folks there are hot dogs, grilled cheese and more. And this waterside location even features live music.
New London, (860) 443-3000, kampdog.com
The website declares: “If you want a hot breakfast or the best grilled hot dogs and burgers with homemade fries and sides, then Kamp Dog is the place for you!” And the way these dogs get dressed up—whoa!
East Lyme, (860) 445-5500, shackrestaurants.com
There are also Shacks in Waterford and Groton, and they feature extensive menus of on-the-go food in a restaurant-like setting. If you go you might want to start with breakfast and make (or have) The Mess: “A plate of home fries, topped with scrambled eggs, ham, peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms, sausage & onions covered in Monterey Jack cheese & bacon. Served with our grilled corn bread.”
Buttonwood Farm Ice Cream
Griswold, (860) 376-4081, buttonwoodfarmicecream.com
Farm-fresh ice cream made with premium ingredients and based on classic old recipes—sounds like a gem and it is. Flavors include Jungle George, made with real bananas, walnuts and chocolate chips.
Mystic Drawbridge Ice Cream
Mystic, (860) 572-7978, mysticdrawbridgeicecream.com
They say they make “the best,” and they certainly make a bunch of unique flavors, including Mystic Turtle and Seaport Salty Swirl. They also make sandwiches, wraps, paninis and breakfast sandwiches all day. Tough to beat that lineup.
Salem Valley Farms Ice Cream
(860) 859-2980, salemvalleyfarmsicecream.com
Cups and cones, shakes and sundaes, floats and, yes, banana splits too—Salem Valley Farms has it all, and during the summer peak, its flavors reach a whopping 80 selections. All of it is handmade on premises just two tubs at a time.
Jasper White’s Summer Shack at Mohegan Sun
(860) 862-9500, summershackrestaurant.com
Chef Jasper White’s first Summer Shack opened in May 2000 on the outskirts of Cambridge, Mass., and the story goes that it shocked patrons of the former fine dining Jasper’s Restaurant on Boston’s Waterfront. “Turn up the music. Haul out the picnic tables. Bring on the fun,” the website says. “At Summer Shack, rustic dishes like steamed lobsters and crabs, fish cakes, clambakes, fried chicken and burgers are served alongside modern preparations influenced by world cuisines, grilled local seafood and the best raw bar in town.” We’ve been a bunch of times to Summer Shack and it’s the perfect way to upscale the road-food experience along a theme of seafood prepared expertly in a great environment.