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While you’ll come across plenty of the white (New England-style) and red (Manhattan) varieties, Rhode Island has its very own entry in the chowdah world: clear clam chowder. The base is simply clam juice, flavored with onion, celery, Worcestershire sauce, some fresh herbs, and black pepper, and then beefed up with diced potatoes and, of course, local clams. You’ll often see some salt pork in there, and a little milk and butter to finish is optional. As you might guess, this chowder makes a fine base for the other two chowders, but in Rhody? No cream or tomatoes needed. The idea is to let the clam flavor shine.
When: Mon, 4pm-10pm; Tues-Thurs, noon-10pm; Fri-Sat, noon-11pm; Sun, 11:30am-10pm
Order: While you should sample the local oysters and clams from the raw bar, a R.I. clam chowder ($5/$7 for cup/bowl) is a great way to start. The soup is very flavorful, specked with chives and filled with chopped clams and potato. A bonus here? You’re greeted with a very nice bread basket and a delicious hot sauce-infused olive-oil dipping sauce, both of which happen to make a lovely accompaniment to this chowder.
Alternatively: Most seafood restaurants will have chowder, although it might be creamy New England style if it’s not specified as “clear” or “plain.” Down by the water in Warwick, the clear chowder at Iggy’s Doughboys & Chowderhouse (two locations including 889 Oakland Beach Ave., Warwick, map) is good, with a nice clam-potato flavor. Or try the “chowda” at Flo’s Clam Shack (multiple locations including 4 Wave Ave., map) in Middletown, just north of Newport; in the same area is fish market/cafe Anthony’s Seafood (963 Aquidneck Ave., map), where clear chowder is joined by a tempting-sounding Portuguese fish chowder on the menu.
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