Our Best Clam Shacks, Lobster Rolls and Outdoor Dining

It’s summer again here on the CT shoreline! Two of the most common questions we are asked here at the inn are “who has the best Lobster Roll” and “where is there a great place to eat outside”. If we were visiting the area for the first time we’d be asking the same questions. So, below is our take on some of our favorites and the area’s most popular choices for lobster rolls, clam shacks and outdoor dining.

When it comes to lobster, you’ll find they do things a bit differently in Connecticut. This state’s claim to fame is not a traditional cold lobster-salad sandwich, but a hot lobster roll overflowing with warm lobster meat and oozing with butter. We think it’s finger-lickin’ good!

Right around the corner are two of our favorite outdoor clam shacks and both serve great fried clams, lobster rolls, clam chowder, fresh fish and chips and much, much more.

Right here in our very own Village of Niantic we have:

Skipper’s Restaurant – Niantic, CT
Skippers Restaurant in Niantic
This is one of the busiest places in the area, and rightfully so. Beautiful views, great lightly-battered fried seafood, and in our opinion, one of the best Fried Fish sandwiches in the entire area. Skipper’s is open all year around, serving lunch and dinner daily. They serve a large variety of the freshest seafood including fried whole belly clams, lobster rolls, excellent fish and chips, and award winning clam chowder, as well as chicken, burgers, hot dogs, and sandwiches. Skipper’s offers plenty of indoor seating and outdoor dining overlooking the Niantic Bay. Come enjoy the warm, casual atmosphere of Skippers.

Dad’s Restaurant – Niantic, CT
Dads Restaurant in Niantic
Dad’s has been a local favorite serving seasonally since 1963. Located in the charming Village of Niantic, you will be able to take in the amazing views of Long Island Sound at Niantic Bay. It’s the perfect setting for everything from date night to family dinner. You will find a great selection of seafood, burgers, fries and if you’re looking for a foot-long hotdog – this is the place! You can also walk right over for that special treat of gourmet ice cream at Dad’s Restaurant!

Stepping outside our village of Niantic, we also like the following:

Captain Scott’s Lobster Dock – New London, CT
Captain Scott's Lobster Dock
You’ll find at Captain Scott’s Lobster Dock, a quaint fish market and lobster shack on Shaw’s Cove in New London. Named for Captain Thomas A. Scott, who arrived in New London in 1871 to build the Race Rock Lighthouse, the restaurant’s signature lobster roll comes on a toasted split bun, full of hot, buttery pieces of lobster meat, topped off simply with sliced lemon. Grab a picnic table and a view of the water, and you’ll need little else. Hard to find (we have printed directions), but well worth the trip.

Ford’s Lobster – Groton, CT
Ford's Lobster
While many who visit the area know Abbott’s Lobster in Noank we’re here to tell you about a really awesome lobster spot called Ford’s Lobster. It’s not easy to find. It’s down by the water, just two small seaside shacks covered in lobster buoys and a deck overlooking a beautiful water view. This BYOB ‘shack’ is creative with their full menu plus they have a lobster bisque lobster roll option in addition to the usual hot with butter and cold with mayo. All YUMMY! Ford’s uses large chunks of tail and claw and in addition to the above options, they also make a ‘lobster bomb’ which is a bread bowl filled with lobster. The chowders here are fantastic, the New England chowder (creamy) and the Noank chowder (clear clam broth) are both winners!

The Back Porch – Old Saybrook
The Back Porch Old Saybrook
Dave loves the blackened Salmon over Caesar Salad, but they have a fair share of lobster dishes as well. One dish/sandwich in particular is their “Lobster Grilled Cheese”. Yes, you read right! If you have never had a lobster grilled cheese sandwich, this might be one of the best places to try one – to die for! With outdoor waterfront dining and New England American Cuisine, The Back Porch Restaurant is a favorite summer dining destination overlooking the boats at the mouth of the Connecticut River. Happy Hour six days a week and live entertainment Wednesdays through Sundays.

Dog Watch Café – Stonington, CT
Dog Watch Cafe Stonington, CT
The Dog Watch Cafe is located in beautiful Stonington Borough, on the marina directly overlooking Dodson Boatyard. A casual seaside atmosphere that’s perfect for kicking back with a cocktail or dining while enjoying beautiful harbor sunsets. We recommend the white wine steamed mussels – a favorite! Special events throughout the year guarantee a great time.

S&P Oyster Company – Mystic, CT
SnP Oyster
Looking to have some lunch or dinner while visiting Mystic? S&P is located right on the Mystic River by the historic bascule drawbridge. You can choose to set outside or in and have beautiful views of the boats passing through the bridge. To name a couple of favorites, the stuffing on the Seafood Ambrosia is decadent, and the tuna on the Grilled Sampler is excellent. The consistency of the food and service at S&P is what brings folks back every time. We HIGHLY recommend this restaurant to anyone who wants a water view and some refreshingly tasty good food!!

Sea Swirl of Mystic – Mystic, CT
Sea Swirl
Come to Sea Swirl of Mystic for some of the best dining in the area. Sea Swirl was visited by Rachael Ray for her show ‘$40 A Day’ on the Food Network and received a great review. They serve a menu of expertly fried local seafood, including scallops, shrimp and fish and have perhaps one of the most beautiful sunsets on the horizon. For an alternative to seafood, there are hamburgers, hotdogs, chicken, sandwiches and much more in this casual clam shack atmosphere. Oh, and don’t forget the ice cream!

Sunset Ribs – Waterford, CT
Sunset Ribs Waterfrod, CT
Sunset Ribs is one of those seasonal ‘beach-bars’ frequented by locals, vacationers and Sunday bikers. Sit on the deck and sip a cocktail, have a bite to eat and watch the sunset behind our inn. Situated on a vista overlooking the Long Island Sound and located right across the Niantic River from our inn, Sunset Ribs offers great BBQ and other offerings including steak, pasta and seasonal seafood dishes. On warm evenings dine outdoors on the patio and enjoy beautiful scenery and live entertainment with your meal.

We love sharing all of the places to grab some great seafood whether they are steps away from the inn or in little out of the way places north and south of the inn. What’s more perfect than coming to the Connecticut shoreline and indulging yourself with fresh seafood and beautiful water views!