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Rhode Island’s Best Seafood Shacks

by Debra Bokur

Mar 19, 2020

Photo: Darryl Brooks | Dreamstime.com


When the weather warms up in Rhode Island, locals head to lunch and dinner at the state’s numerous seafood shacks to enjoy soft buns stuffed with fresh, savory crabmeat, fried clams or lobster.


While you’re waiting at the port in Westerly for the ferry to take you to Block Island, settle down at family-owned Two Little Fish on Misquamicut Beach. The shop earned multiple awards for outstanding seafood, and the selection of savory rolls (what we Rhode Islanders call a split bun: kind of like a hot dog bun only way better) includes fried shrimp, calamari, wholebelly clams, scallops and clam strips all served with French fries and creamy coleslaw.


Full? Catch your ferry, have an amazing day exploring Block Island and then head to The Oar. You’ll understand the name as soon as you walk in and see the walls and ceilings decorated with an impressive collection of oars sporting artwork and signatures. The oldest oars date back to 1967. Enjoy great views of New Harbor and Great Salt Pond, while dining on excellent food from an eatery that’s become one of the island’s most treasured local institutions.


Along with grilled swordfish and mahi mahi rolls, you can order The Oar’s fried scallop or grilled salmon rolls, or get fancy and select your meal from a full sushi bar menu. For your appetizer, spoon up some of the island’s best clam chowder — pronounced “chow-dah” here. The restaurant is seasonal, and like the majority of other island dining venues, is generally open from early May till mid-October.


Back on the mainland, head for Newport. After touring this seaport’s fabulous collection of Gilded Age mansions, find an outdoor table at Newport Lobster Shack. It doesn’t get much fresher than the menu here, as what’s on the menu is what the Shack’s fishermen caught that day. Order at the window and don’t forget to try the tasty fried conch option.


Rhode Island’s other favorite beach town is Narragansett, which once boasted a selection of estates, mansions and grand hotels as impressive as some of Newport’s addresses. A fire swept through the town in 1900 and destroyed much of its grandeur, including most of the Narragansett Pier Casino. The old casino’s granite towers are still local landmarks, as is Monahan’s Clam Shack by the Sea on the sea wall. Another seasonal go-to for locals, the shack’s roll options include fried wholebellies, scallops, cold lobster, hot lobster and oyster ’po boys, accompanied by a scoop of coleslaw and tasty fries.


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