Restaurant Series: Crunch into Woodman’s Of Essex, Massachusetts

How would I describe Woodman’s Restaurant? A seafood connoisseur’s guilty pleasure.

For years crowds have been forming outside this celebrated local dive, family-owned and operating since 1916. Woodman’s Of Essex was established by Lawrence “Chubby” Woodman and his wife, Bessie, selling grocery items, such as fresh clams and homemade potato chips, on a roadside stand in Essex. Legend has it, on July 3rd, 1916, a customer nonchalantly suggested frying a fresh clam and on that day, history was marked and made. To this day, one of Woodman’s most popular menu items is Chubby’s Original Fried Clams.

Woodman’s cozy, wooden, no-frills, shack- style eatery is great for grabbing a quick bit, taking a meal to go, or casually dining with friends and family indoors, or outdoors in their covered picnic area with a tray of fried seafood and a beer in hand. Woodman’s expansive parking lot is a great place to walk around and take advantage of their hidden wooden benches to watch sunset on Essex salt marsh.

Personally, one of my favorite dishes is their Down River Combo, because, every time I scan Woodman’s menu, I have a difficult time choosing just one item to chow down on, there are so may delicious choices. The Down River Combo comes with their famous whole clams, jumbo shrimp, scallops, and fish, all fried in gluten-free batter. In fact, almost all their batter is gluten free, minus their out-of-this-world crunchy onion rings, clam cakes, and sandwich bread. Other great menu choices, totally worthy of praise are their fried baby popcorn shrimp, lobster roll, their award-winning clam chowder, Nana Bessie’s famous clam cakes, and believe it or not, their french fries, similar to their onion rings, are amazingly crispy and really addicting.

For more of a quiet and rustic setting, try out Woodman’s top deck, on the second floor of the restaurant, completely enclosed with screened-in windows, boasting a full bar, spectacular views, and a refreshing breeze from the marsh. Woodman’s offers their guests much flexibility, allowing diners to enjoy their meals, pretty much, wherever they want to, and that makes a huge difference in comfortability, attitude, and the way food is savored and ingested. Don’t believe me? Try it out for yourself! Just don’t blame me when you can’t decide what to order…

For a sweet treat on the way home, navigate to DownRiver in Ipswich, a small road-side ice cream stand, crafting funky homemade flavors!


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