It may not be a clam shack in Kennebunkport, but if this heat has you itching for some fresh and fried seafood in the Lower Hudson Valley, you’ve got plenty of options. Good ones, too. The kind of places that welcome flip flops and families, and aren’t afraid of a proper half-shell slurp.
Here are a few of our favorite local spots for easy and casual seafood, summer style.
Dudley’s Parkview Restaurant, New Rochelle
A New Rochelle institution, where everyone from local families to boaters in dock shoes just in from a day of sailing settles on the dockside deck for pitchers of beer and plates of clams. This is not a fancypants place — it’s attached to the Hudson Park Bait and Tackle Building and overlooks the city marina and Echo Bay Harbor — but the Bargeburger and the clams on the half shell, paired with an icy cold beer? You can’t beat it.
We recommend: Clams on the half shell, clam strips, fish and chips and the Bargeburger, a bacon cheeseburger with fried onions, fried pickles, lettuce, tomato, raw onion and mayo.
Go: 94 Hudson Park Road. 914-235-4445.
The Hoedown at Stew Leonard’s, Yonkers
Yes, we know Stew’s is a grocery store. But when you can get a 1 1/4-pound lobster dinner for $15.99, we think it’s worth mentioning, even in an article ostensibly about clam shacks. Besides, at the Hoedown, the cafe outside the grocery store, you can also get a fried shrimp or a lobster roll (also at a nice price: $9.98). Enjoy those meals — or burgers or pizza and the like — at picnic tables with red-checked cloths, and overlook the rest of the shopping center down the valley below. You’ll feel smug knowing your shopping’s done, and you won’t even have to cook for the kids.
We recommend: The lobster, fries and a drink. Shrimp basket dinner.
Go: 1 Stew Leonard Drive. 914-375-4700, www.stewleonards.com.
Leno’s Clam Bar, New Rochelle
Here are a couple of funny things about Leno’s, the blue-and-white roadside stand with a view of the gas station on Pelham Road. No. 1, nobody calls it that. Everyone calls it Greasy Nick’s, which was a nickname for the original owner, who was, we’re told, quite dirty and greasy. No. 2 — Pat Leno, the current owner, whose family has had the place since 1950, is a cousin to the more famous Leno, Jay, who was born in New Rochelle. Pretty cool, huh?
One not-so-funny thing? The food is darn good. You order your clams — or clam strips or even onion-y cheeseburgers, along with a nice cob of corn — at the counter, and then take your food to one of the roadside picnic tables. Wash it down with a cold can of Piels, and you’re in clam-shack heaven.
We recommend: Clam strips, lightly battered, crisp and delicate. Soft-shell crab sandwiches, when they’re in season.
Go: 755 Pelham Road. 914-636-9869
Pier Restaurant & Tiki Bar, Rye
Expansive views of the Long Island Sound, a genuine thatched-roof bar and fruity drinks with umbrellas say tiki bar rather than clam shack, but with a tropical vibe and fried food on the menu, we think it’s definitely worth a trip. Plus, there is a raw bar with littlenecks, cherrystones, Blue Point oysters and Old Bay peel ‘n’ eat shrimp.
We recommend: Coconut shrimp, popcorn shrimp, fried clam strips, fish and chips.
Go: 1 Playland Parkway. 914-967-1020.
Seaside Johnnies, Rye
This casual seafood restaurant in the Spanish Colonial-style Oakland Beach Pavilion, which was built in 1909, has some of the best views in Westchester: a sandy, crescent-shaped beach and the Long Island Sound beyond. No mere clam shack, Seaside Johnnies is a full-service restaurant serving everything from lobster and shrimp dishes to barbecue ribs and chicken parmigiana. But if you’re going for the clam shack-attack, we say that the fried clams, popcorn shrimp and calamari should be on the agenda.
We recommend: Jumbo shrimp, fish and chips, fried clams, popcorn shrimp.
Go: 94 Dearborn Ave. 914-921-6104, www.seasidejohnnies.com.
In a big tent in the parking lot behind Cornetta’s, you can get a great order of steamed littleneck clams. The semi-permanent tent is actually Cornetta’s outdoor seating, and even though, like many waterfront places around here, it’s in a parking lot, the view is still magical: marina, Tappan Zee Bridge, and on the right night, a full moon shining over the Hudson River. The menu also includes fried shrimp, scallops, calamari and a nice flounder — or get the fisherman’s platter, which has all of them.
We recommend: Steamed clams, fried clams, fried flounder.
Go: 641 Piermont Ave. 845-359-0410, www.cornettas.com.
Gus’s Franklin Park, Harrison
Around since before the 1930s — and named Gus’s Franklin Park Restaurant ever since 1935. The interior is very much what you might expect: Wood-paneled walls, simple tables, green paper placemats. And with the restaurant’s own seafood market right next door, you should know to also expect super-fresh fish. But step behind the market, and a whole new world opens: an outdoor patio with 10 glass-topped, wrought iron tables — set with green placemats and all. There’s also a big wooden bar with six seats, hanging plants, and the brick wall of the building next door. Feels like a clam shack to us! And the menu conforms: clams and oysters on the half shell, Maine steamers, beer-battered oysters, baked clams and Cajun popcorn shrimp, just to name the appetizers. For a main course, you can also get a fried (or broiled) seafood platter, twin lobster tails or fish and chips.
We recommend: Twin lobster tails, lobster rolls, fried clams, clams on the half shell.
Go: 126 Halstead Ave. 914-835-9804, gusseafood.com
The River Club, Nyack
See the Hudson from just about any seat in the house. The bar area is surrounded by tables: some as you first enter; deep, private booths to the left; a few tables on the river side. The dockside room, which used to include the bar, still feels as clam-shack-y as ever. With a nice breeze coming in from the river, you’ll want to settle in for a plate of fish and chips, or pop a few popcorn shrimp in your mouth. You can get clams, too, though they’re served together with mussels and sautéed in tomatoes, garlic and beer.
We recommend: Popcorn shrimp, fish and chips, crab cakes, fried calamari and the Black and Tan Burger, served with Guinness onions on marble rye bread with stout cheese.
Go: 11 Burd St. 845-358-0220, nyackriverclub.net.
The Boathouse, Ossining
A bistro and bar near the Hudson River, but not exactly on it (there’s a parking lot between you and the river). There are purple walls, a stained cement floor and nautical items everywhere. Clam shack fans: Don’t miss the mermaid on the ladies room door and the leaning bar, made from swim platforms taken from the backs of boats. The menu is simple food done right: burgers, salads, chicken and salmon. But as for clams? Try the clam po’boy: clam strips piled high in a roll served with fries and cole slaw. We promise, these are not greasy. They’re nice and crunchy, and sort of remind us of the old Howard Johnson’s clam strips — in a good way!
We recommend: Fried calamari, clam po’boy, coconut shrimp.
Go: 46 Westerly Road. (If you’re using GPS to find the restaurant, enter 800 Westerly Road for more precise directions.) 914-923-6466.
Seahorse Seafood Shack, Pleasantville
You’ll find fish tacos, fried fish baskets and a choose-your-own menu: select your fish, choose whether you want it grilled, blackened or battered in the Seahorse special crunchy coating, then whether you’d like a sandwich or a basket with your choice of salad or “fishnet” waffle fries. While you might find this style of menu at any seafood shack, what makes these dishes non-traditional are the sauces. Seahorse has a tangy tartar, coral chipotle, killer cocktail, and briny balsamic (all cutely named, true, but still delicious). Word to the wise: this walk-up restaurant has only a few tables, chairs and umbrellas outdoors, so expect to fight for seating during the dinner rush.
We recommend: TheConey Island lobster roll, which comes on a toasted brioche roll, stuffed with big chunks of lobster meat.
Go: 30 Wheeler Ave. 914-579-2255, website coming soon to seahorseseafoodshack.com. Hours: 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Saturday. Closed Sunday.