Fling a bivalve on the North Shore and you will strike a dozen places all making great clam chowder, many with a unique spin. Winner Brine’s Pork + Clam Chowder turns the traditional hearty dish into a velvety soup while retaining all the familiar flavors. Rather than chunks of potato, the soup employs spuds cooked in a mixture of clam juice and classic chowder flavorings (thyme, bacon, celery, onion, etc.), then strained and pureéd with cream as a thickener. Clams are smoked and added at the last minute, which means they are tender and flavorful. The dish is topped with crispy house-cured pork belly and crunchy potato chips, instead of oyster crackers, for a dish that is thick, rich, sweet, and totally satisfying (not to mention gluten free).
The Blue Ox
The Blue Ox in Lynn offers an entirely different take on this New England staple, spiking its traditional chowder with a hit of Tabasco to balance the richness of the cream with heat and acid. Applewood-smoked bacon brings slight smokiness while a garnish of extra-virgin olive oil adds a pleasing fruitiness.
Prefer something lighter? For nearly 60 years, ?The Village has been serving tasty New England fare. The milky broth in their chowder—a family recipe handed down for generations—virtually sings with sweet fresh clam goodness.