Good clam shacks are a staple for any beach community, and Long Beach Island doesn’t disappoint. There are several clam shacks on the island, and each has its own unique characteristics. So if you have the inkling to taste some fresh mollusks, shellfish and crustaceans, these are some of the best clam shacks on LBI.
Polly’s Dock & Clam House
112 N. West Avenue, Beach Haven, NJ
Polly’s dock is one of our personal favorite island spots. This hidden gem is located bayside in Beach Haven, but is tucked behind a mass of charming, old fishing shacks and docks. We discovered this location because of its boating dock. Polly’s is one of the only spots on the island that allows visitors to arrive by land or sea. You can dock for free if you eat at their restaurant, or it costs $25 to leave your boat and explore the island. Their menu includes items like fresh-tossed salads, three 6oz “Polly Patties” topped with a fried egg, a hoagie-style cheese steak and more. The headliner, however, is the clams. They get their clams directly from the bay in which your boat is docked, and offer deals like a bakers dozen (13) at market price, or a large bucket for the table. If you want more than just clams, they also offer the option to turn your steamer order into a clam bake, which comes with red bliss potatoes and Jersey corn. You can also make a day of your Polly’s excursion and rent rods, kayaks, paddle boards, skiffs, pontoons, fishing line or crabbing supplies at the dock and enjoy an afternoon on the water.
Harvey Cedars Shellfish Company Clam Bar
506 West Centre Street, Beach Haven, NJ
The Harvey Cedars Clam Bar is tried and true. The menu includes deliciously fresh clams cooked almost every way: clam chowder, clams on the half shell, steamed clams, clams marinara, clams casino… you get the point. This old-fashion venue offers semi-circle community seating, a whiteboard waiting list, and is BYOB and cash only. Best of all, cell phones are prohibited. Yes, seriously. Your clam bar tender, no-nonsense Nell, has been working there for years, and will TELL you to pocket your phone if she catches you with it, hence the reason I have no interior pictures! She runs a tight ship, so don’t ask for menu substitutions and don’t linger too long, she has plenty of others waiting outside for your spot! This is all part of the clam bar’s charm, and is a must see on LBI!
Blacky’s Clam Stand
1128 E Bay Ave, Manahawkin, NJ
Let me preface this selection by saying don’t judge a book by its cover. Yes, the shack is literally a shack at the foot of the causeway. It is half-sunken into the ground, lopsided, and needs a paint job. The signage is hand drawn, and the building is overrun by vines and weeds. However, Blacky’s dilapidated appearance is part of its charm, not to mention they have the best-priced clams in the area. Not only are they fabulously priced, they are same-day fresh, and come in all different shapes and sizes. The proprietors are locals and extremely friendly. Visiting Blacky’s is like going back in time, and reminds you of the way things use to be. It is not a restaurant, however, so be prepared to do the cooking yourself. It is take out and cash only, but well worth the visit. If not for the seafood, at least for the experience!
2006 Long Beach Boulevard, Surf City, NJ
This little 70’s style clam shack offers both a take-out market and eat-in option. According to NJ.com, Boulevard Clams is one of “The 51 N.J. restaurants you need to eat at before you die“. While they are most famous for their whole-belly fried clams, the oyster po’ boy and lobster roll are forces to be reckoned with as well. Best of all, their shellfish is harvested daily by their own clammers, and they are a New Jersey Certified Clam Dealer, meaning they only get their product from approved waters. If you decide to eat-in rather than take-out, their restaurant provides an air conditioned seating area, but make sure to BYOB!
Harvey Cedars Shellfish Company Restaurant
7904 Long Beach Boulevard, Harvey Cedars, NJ
The Harvey Cedars Shellfish Company’s flagship restaurant was opened in 1972, and moved to its current location in Harvey Cedars in 1973. It is the parent restaurant to the Harvey Cedars Shellfish Company’s Clam Bar mentioned above, but a slightly more refined option. It was a Zagat rated restaurant, and is located in an adorable 1920s beach house with a casual and comfortable atmosphere. Most of the seafood is fresh-caught right off Barnegat Light, and they have fantastic cold and hot seafood platters. All of their fried dishes are cooked in trans fat-free vegetable oil, which is a nice, healthier touch. Also, if you get an entrée from the grille, it is always paired with fresh, Jersey corn on the cob!
While good ole’ fashioned clam shacks are a dying breed, LBI’s unique, local business mentality has helped to foster some of the best, most authentic venues on the east coast. So next time you are heading to LBI, consider trying out these special spots, and we promise you won’t be disappointed!
After heading to the clam bars above, check out our article “Happy Hour Guide to Long Beach Island” for suggestions on the best local spots to enjoy a discounted beverage and meal!
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