While Boston may lay claim to the original clam chowder, several restaurants in the Bay Area give East Coast eateries a run for their money with their own take on the comforting seaside favorite. As the weather begins to cool, it’s time to start seeking out the best chowder in the Bay Area. Whether you prefer your chowder in a traditional porcelain bowl or a soft and yummy bread bowl, you’re sure to find a place to satisfy your clam chowder craving on this list.
Billy’s Boston Chowder House
29 East Main Street, Los Gatos
A place with chowder in the name is a no-brainer for a list of the best clam chowder spots in the Bay Area. And the chowder at Billy’s Boston Chowder House
doesn’t disappoint. The restaurant is owned by Boston-trained chef Billy Reynold and serves a wide selection of New England-style dishes. But the casual eatery’s claim to fame is its chowder, which is creamy, full of Manila clams and diced potatoes, and served in a fresh bread bowl. While the Boston-style chowder is this restaurant’s most popular chowder, diners can also try the Manhattan clam chowder, which is cooked in a smooth tomato broth.
Forthright Oyster Bar & Kitchen
1700 West Campbell Avenue, Campbell
A restaurant that serves more than 100 quarts of clam chowder each week must be doing something right. The dish was one of the first chef Jim Stump learned, and he has spent the past 20 years perfecting the recipe. The clam chowder at Forthright Oyster Bar & Kitchen
is a West Coast take on the traditional East Coast recipe. The roux-based chowder is loaded with surf clams, potatoes, onions, celery and applewood smoked bacon, then finished with heavy cream.
Sam’s Chowder House
4210 Cabrillo Highway, Half Moon Bay
Voted the Best Seafood in the Bay Area by the San Francisco Bay Area A-List, Sam’s Chowder House
is the place to go for delicious clam chowder. The seaside restaurant’s menu features both New England and Manhattan clam chowders. The New England-style chowder is filled with littleneck clams, smoked bacon, and cream, while the Manhattan chowder is a tomato-based soup with littleneck clams, potatoes, and fresh herbs. In addition to the waterfront brick and mortar, Sam’s Chowder House also has a mobile food truck
that travels across the Bay Area (see the schedule on the website or follow @chowdermobile
to track it down).
The Fish Market
Multiple locations in Palo Alto, Santa Clara, San Mateo, and San Jose
For traditional New England-style clam chowder, head to the Fish Market
, which has multiple locations around the Bay Area. The menu features a white, creamy New England chowder and a red and spicy Manhattan chowder—both made from scratch daily. Each version has a delicious, briny flavor on its own, without any added ingredients to distract from the star of the dish—the clams.
1520 Lakeside Drive, Oakland
Situated on the banks of Lake Merritt in Oakland, the beautiful view from this waterfront restaurant is the perfect complement to their delicious chowder. The huge bowl of chowder you’ll get could serve as your entire meal. The hearty dish is filled with manilla clams and bacon, making it a great option for New England-style chowder lovers.