A month ago, we were lamenting the onset of winter, with its shortened days and frigid temperatures. But there are some good things about the season: for example, a steaming bowl of chowder, prepared with fresh local clams, served by the fire as you watch the tide gently rise outside. If every day winter day could be spent like that, we might just stop our seasonal whining altogether. Here's a look at New England's most delicious waterfront restaurants that offer some of the best views around, no matter the season.
Housed inside a tavern built in the 1920s, The Black Pearl opened officially in 1967 in the heart of historic Bannister's Wharf, and has been hawking its signature clam chowder ever since. Be sure to order a bowl ($7) inside the ritzy Commodore Room, which is a tad more formal and polished than the adjacent Tavern – but heck, with chowder this tasty, and the harbor outside providing the perfect backdrop, you'll have no problem settling into the mood, no matter where you sit.
A wide deck directly faces out to the harbor at the Atlantic Fish & Chop House (or, as locals like to call it, simply The Atlantic), easily making it the hottest summer dining spot on Martha's Vineyard. But winter doesn't lessen the restaurant's friendly, maritime appeal: pretty much any seat in the house has a guaranteed ocean view. On the menu, unsurprisingly, is seafood, with a few outstanding dishes including New Orleans-style crayfish gumbo ($9), lobster mac and cheese ($22), and oven-roasted Alaskan cod ($32).
You just heard about the Black Pearl; well, this is the Black Cow (and let's not forget about the Black Dog – what is it with New England and animal mascots at restaurants?). Boasting two Massachusetts locations in Hamilton and Newburyport, the latter is by far the most impressive, with a brick-and-mahogany-accented dining room offering front-row seats to the water, and a handsome outdoor deck for the warmer months. In winter, cozy up by the fireplace with some clam chowder ($7), lobster croissant ($25), or, perhaps most classic of all, a thick slice of Boston Cream Pie ($6.95).
One of a handful of local eateries that stays open year-round, Fanizzi's By the Sea specializes in hearty seafood fare like homemade cod cakes ($12.99) and an epic creation known as the "Provincetown Fisherman's Fried Platter," which combines fresh local scallops, 3 jumbo shrimp, local cod, and battered whole belly clams on a single plate ($25.99); another popular choice is Sunday brunch, served weekly from 10am-2pm, and offering an all-you-can-eat menu ($14.95 per person). Whenever you decide to go, though, be prepared for a seriously classic Cape Cod panorama: the entire dining room is lined with windows.
Ranked number one on Yelp, Portland's most unique waterfront restaurant is in fact a converted car ferry that ploughed the waves from 1941 until the late 1960s. After changing hands several times, DiMillo's On the Water opened in 1982 as the country's largest floating restaurant (206 feet long and 65 feet wide, to be precise). Since then, visitors have showed up in droves to feast on...what else? Lobster! And it's served in every form imaginable – lobster stew, lobster salad, twin lobsters, lobster bake, fried lobster tails, lobster mac and cheese, to name a few.