In my last post, “Three Great Places to Eat Breakfast in Rockport, Mass.,” I couldn’t help digressing from the subject to praise the fried clams at Nate’s at Front Beach. Because while Nate’s does a spectacular breakfast, their fried clams are really their claim to fame.

It got me thinking about all the other fantastic fried clam and lobster places in Cape Ann. Drive around and you’ll see what I mean. Nearly every beach and downtown has its own little clam shack. Seafood is our specialty, after all!

Overwhelmed by all the choices? Here are your best bets:

For fried clams (try them and you’ll be hooked for life):

Nate’s at Front Beach (18 Beach St., Rockport). The clams are fresh fresh fresh, the batter is light, and the oil is clean. This is the essence of coastal Massachusetts on a plate.

In the Essex area, the two most popular clam places are the Clam Box (246 High St., Ipswich) and Woodman’s (121 Main St., Essex). I tend to prefer the Clam Box, but you can’t go wrong at either one. Try them both and decide for yourself!

For lobster (when you’re ready to roll up your sleeves and get down and dirty):

Lobster Pool (329 Granite St., Rockport). A seasonal indoor/outdoor spot with a casual atmosphere and a sunset view that must be seen to be believed.

Roy Moore’s Fish Shack Restaurant (21 Dock Square, Rockport). A local landmark that serves up stellar food at very down-to-earth prices. You can also pick up lobsters at the Roy Moore Lobster Co. (39 Bearskin Neck Rd., Rockport). Buy them already boiled and enjoy them on the beach or at home, with minimal fuss.

Best lobster roll: Seaport Grille in Gloucester (6 Rowe Square, Gloucester). This restaurant overlooks the working harbor of the oldest seaport town in the U.S. People drive here from all over to enjoy their signature lobster rolls. Local food doesn’t get any better than this!