What is it about the magical combination of clams, milk and potatoes? If you’ve ever lingered over a hot, steaming bowl of clam chowder while visiting the Oregon Coast, you know it’s a bit of hearty heaven. With many spots claiming to serve the best chowder on the Coast, here are our highly unscientific but totally delicious findings.
Both newcomers and iconic classics are worth visiting on the North Coast. The family-owned Dooger’s Seafood and Grill in Seaside and Warrenton has been going strong since 1983, delivering rich and creamy comfort in a bowl. Look for the blue and white lighthouse to find Norma’s Seafood & Steak in Seaside, with their pork-free chowder served with a thick slice of white bread and butter. The chowder at Ecola Seafoods Restaurant & Market in Cannon Beach hits the spot for any quick beach-day craving. It’s a perfect accompaniment to a cup of fresh crab meat, a shrimp cocktail or a plate of hot fish ’n chips. The chowder at Old Oregon Smokehouse in Rockaway Beach is served without fanfare or dishware but, nonetheless, wins the hearts of visitors with its fresh-from-the-sea ingredients and outdoor seating. Order to go and enjoy on the beach or from the comfort of your lodging. Dine inside or outside at Salmonberry Saloon in Wheeler to enjoy a great view of Nehalem Bay. Order the chowder if you’re looking for an upscale spin on the classic — filled with smoked seafood including Willapa Bay clams, rockfish and pork belly. It’s one of dozens of tasty spots along the North Coast Food Trail.
In Lincoln City, the dramatic ocean view at Kyllo’s at the Beach is just part of the appeal. The razor clams and sea clams are fresh-caught, along with everything else on the menu. A coastal classic billed as a “creamy treat, swimming with chunks of chopped ocean clams,” the chowder at Gracie’s Sea Hag in Depoe Bay has been a favorite of visitors and locals alike for 40 years. Newport’s Chowder Bowl at Nye Beach has been serving up its thick and creamy chowder for more than 30 years. Order the chowder in a bread bowl at Georgie’s Beachside Grill in Newport and take your time — what better excuse to sit awhile and enjoy the view from their swanky dining room? Tuck into a bowl of New England-style or the rarer Manhattan-style chowder in the two new dining spaces at Luna Sea Fish House in Yachats — one filled with local artists’ paintings and the other a permanent pet-friendly tent with cozy heaters and regular live music. The chowder at Novelli’s Crab & Seafood on the dock in Old Town Florence is truly boat-to-table, filled only with its fresh catch.
Watch the boats go by on the Umpqua River as you tuck into your chowder at Schooner Inn Cafe in Reedsport, a mainstay on the South Coast since 1983. The chowder at SharkBite’s Seafood Cafe in Coos Bay is served in a surfer’s dream restaurant with boards and marlins decorating the interior. Soak up the bay views at the casual and cozy High Tide Cafe in Charleston, where hungry diners can order the “Superbowl,” for serious chowder fans only. Tony’s Crab Shack in Bandon rewards its fans with generous portions of chowder ready to eat right on Bandon’s famous boardwalk. Redfish in Port Orford serves up stunning ocean views along with a fancy gluten-free, New England-style chowder, with corn, herbs and chili oil as a garnish. Find more spots to fuel your cravings along the Wild Rivers Coast Food Trail.
With locations in Newport, Cannon Beach, Lincoln City, Astoria, Otter Rock, Florence and most recently Seaside, Mo’s Restaurant is the granddaddy of Oregon Coast chowder restaurants, serving generations of coastal visitors with their creamy bowls topped with giant pats of butter. Dining with a large group? Order the family-size chowder for the table, which comes in a big metal cauldron-type vessel with bowls for everyone, and plenty of oyster crackers, too.
By Jen Anderson
Luna Sea Fish House photo by Justin Bailie