So much controversy over chowder. Thick or thin? Onions or no onions? Even the size of the potato chunks comes into question. But The Village has stuck to the same classic recipe since 1958, when a cup only cost a quarter. No thickeners here—just clams, onions, clam juice, and dairy—so the milky broth virtually sings with fresh clam goodness.
55 Main St., Essex, 978-768-6400, wedigclams.com
Readers’ Choice (Tie)
Elm Square Oyster Co.
Scoffing at tradition, chef Michael Sherman offers a summer clam chowder with layers of…tomatoes! The light clam-studded broth is enhanced with three kinds of tomatoes: raw, marinated, and dehydrated. Get it while you can.
Two Elm Square, Andover, 978-470-2228, elmsquareoysterco.com
Woodman’s of Essex
There’s a reason this spot has been around for more than a hundred years: The chowder is darn delicious! Thick, dense with clams, and gluten-free—a century of experience can’t be wrong.
119 Main St., Essex, 978-768-6057, woodmans.com