Boston Harborfest Chowderfest 2011

Happy 4th of July!! I hope you’re all having the best weekend ever. I definitely am. I feel like I’ve packed SO much into the past couple days and still managed to find plenty of time for relaxing. It’s kind of incredible. I’ve had about 10 of the best-ever meals, walked about 15 miles in the beautiful city of Boston, and curled up on the couch to read about 500 pages of some very fabulous books (in case you’re wondering, I just finished Little Bee and am attempting to dive into A Game of Thrones… So far I like it a lot better than I thought I would).

Anyway, Sunday was another packed day. And to think, there’s still another whole day of weekend left! When Whytnee from the Boston Harborfest emailed us and asked if we wanted tickets to this year’s Chowderfest, I jumped on it. Because why wouldn’t I want to attend a festival that is all about eating the Boston-area’s best clam chowder? I headed to Government Center with Chris and Adam on Sunday afternoon, so we could get our chowdah on. As a side note, I have to say that I personally believe my mother makes the best clam chowder, but still had to see what Boston’s restaurants have to offer.


The first chowder we tasted was from Clancy’s in Dennisport down the Cape.


Right when we tasted this chowder, we knew it was going to be a fabulous ChowderFest. We were oohing and ahhing and saying, “This is what chowder should be like!” Of course, we still had 5 more clam chowders to taste, so we didn’t let ourselves get too excited. (Also, props to Clancy’s for being the only restaurant who worked their brand with their own napkins. Everyone else used generic).


Next up was Anthem Kitchen, from Boston’s Faneuil Hall.


And omg we were served another awesome chowder! This one had noticeably fewer clams than Clancy’s, but the flavor was to die for. I’m not sure what seasonings they put in their chowder, but I’m pretty sure crack is involved (and I mean that in a way so as to say it is ADDICTING).


The boys were enjoying the chowder overload. Though somewhat disappointed there was no beer served at Chowderfest. I mean, choweder+beer=summer heaven, right? That’s OK; we stopped at Mija in Faneuil Hall for margaritas after the fest.


Next, we headed to rey Mr. Dooley’s chowder, from the Financial District.


They offered a great tasting chowder (especially with added Tabasco on top!), but it was super potato heavy and lacking clams.


City Hall Plaza was packed with people (but not overwhelmingly so) and there were even a couple of jugglers.


On to Ipswich Clambake. We had a good feeling about this one since Ipswich is known for their clams.


The chowder was tasty and packed with delightful clams, but there was a tiny bit of an aftertaste I didn’t love. It was likely from the container the chowder was sitting in for probably some time (they were traveling from Ipswich after all), so I didn’t really hold it against them.


Jerry Remy’s of Fenway/Kenmore was missing a sign and we almost skipped right over them before noticing the booth was serving chowder. Definitely our least favorite of the day. It was super thick (almost like the filling in chicken pot pie) and did not taste like clam chowder at all. I wasn’t too surprised since I would never think to go to Jerry Remy’s for clam chowder, but I’d be interested to talk to someone who enjoyed this one.


Our final tasting was from the Chart House, on Long Wharf.


Somehow I’ve never heard of the Chart House (I guess it’s a national chain?) and I’d say their chowder was pretty good, but not out of this world head to the wharf right now and order it. It turns out, Chart House was just showing off their already named hall of fame chowder, but we decided to rank it anyway.


After trying all the chowders, I was torn. Clancy’s or Anthem? They were both pretty perfect, but so different. Obviously we had to go back and try both of them again. We were being held responsible for making this major decision, after all, and wanted to be as well educated as possible.

In the end, we all went with Clancy’s for our vote. Why? While Anthem’s chowder was packed with awesome flavor, Clancy’s was more traditional tasting. Plus, it contained so many clams in each little cup. And isn’t that the most important thing when it comes to judging a good clam chowder?


We set forth to cast our votes.


It was a big moment.


In case you’re wondering, here are my official 2011 Boston Harborfest Chowderfest rankings:

#1 Clancy’s in Dennisport
#2 Anthem Kitchen in Faneuil Hall
#3 Ipswich Clambake in Ipswich
#4 Charter House at Long Wharf
#5 Mr. Dooley’s in the Financial District
#6 Jerry Remy’s at Fenway/Kenmore


Phew. I think we’re all officially chowdered out.


There was a lot going on outside Chowderfest on City Hall Plaza and it was nice to see Boston so bustling.


We stopped by the Keurig booth, where they were serving up iced coffee and tea. They gave us a cup filled with ice and a K-Cup and let us make our own coffee using the Keurig machine.


Such an awesome idea for a hot day and perfect for washing down all that chowder.


And as I was writing this post, the winners of this year’s Chowderfest were announced on Twitter! And I’m THRILLED to say that my top 3 ranking are identical to the winners!

Clancy’s came in #1 with the best clam chowder, followed by Anthem Kitchen and Ipswich Clambake. I’m so glad the rest of the Chowderfest attendees agreed with me.

Thanks so much to Whytnee for inviting us to Chowderfest and letting us take part in the historic chowder decision.

What spot serves your favorite clam chowder?

Happy 4th of July!! 🙂 Hope you make it a very merry Cocktail Monday!


18 Responses to "Boston Harborfest Chowderfest 2011"

  1. Erica says:

    What a fun event! I am not a clam chowder fan…I always wished I liked it since there were so many awesome options up in Boston. I hope you guys have a great 4th

  2. CHOWDAH!!! i love it. i only eat it in new england. i hear there’s a version that a-frame (a restaurant in l.a.) makes that is supposed to be amazing – thai inspired, with coconut

  3. Krystle says:

    Ahhh Clancys! I don’t eat their chowder because lets be serious – I’m the worst Cape Codder on the face of the planet, but that restaurant will always hold a place in my heart because my Dad was the main pastry chef there when I was little, and then worked there again a few summers ago!

  4. Martha says:

    Thanks, Suzie for your vote! We at Clancy’s are very proud of our team and our chowder. Come by for a visit soon. Best, Martha

  5. Nisrine M says:

    The clam chowder looks awesome and uou look like you had a great time. Loove Boston!

  6. What a fun fun event!! I’m glad you took your role as judges so seriously :). Enjoy the rest of your weekend – hope today is just as fun as it has been so far!

  7. Michelle says:

    I’m a big fan of the clam chowder at the Leeside in Wood’s Hole!

  8. Daisy says:

    such fun! I am sad i missed it this year!!!

  9. rita says:

    that looks so much fun! but why isn’t there bier? i agree, chowda + bier = heaven. i miss me some good chowdah! that’s one thing that i can’t get here in germany 🙁 when we were still living in the states – new england is the only place i would get them. so i used to visit friends quite often 😉

  10. Joanne says:

    Chowderfest sounds AWESOME~! The perfect way to spend a hot weekend, if you ask me.

  11. Mal says:

    This looks like so much fun, I’m bummed that I couldn’t make it this year. Thanks for the great pics and reviews so I can live vicariously through you 🙂

  12. I’ve got a tie between the Captain’s Table in Chatham and Thompson’s Clam Bar in Orleans. My kind of competition!

  13. Also, as someone who finished all 4 of Marten’s Ice and Fire books in a month, I wish you good luck in putting them down. So good.

  14. Sally says:

    Why only 6 restaurants? Wouldn’t you think that the BOSTON chowderfest would have many more? This wasn’t small town stuff. What’s up?

  15. Sues says:

    @Sally- I thought the same thing at first, but I’m pretty sure it’s an exclusive competition and a serious one at that. If there were more than 6 restaurants participating, it would have been tough to taste all the chowders and judge them well. There are lots of rules, like if you win 3 years in a row, you can no longer participate. In the end, I was happy there were only 6 because I could try them all, distinguish them, and then go back for seconds for the ones I was trying to decide between 🙂

  16. Bridget says:

    Mmmm, I love clam chowder!! I’ve never been to chowderfest, but I always wish it was in the fall…I’m never in the mood for hot chowder when its hot out! But now I really need to try Clancy’s!! Looks like a delicious fun event!

  17. Lexi says:

    I LOOOOOOOOVE clam chowdah, it’s one of my favorite things! Have you ever been to Newick’s, the New England chain (or is it just in NH?)? When I was younger, I wrote them a letter, asking for the chowder recipe, because I loved it so much! They wrote back saying that they couldn’t share the secret recipe, but sent me a bunch of coupons for the restaurant!

    I think I need to try making my own chowder one of these days….

  18. Kerstin says:

    Yum, this sounds so fun, I’ll have to make sure we go next year!

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