Do you like your clam chowder thick and chunky, or smooth and creamy? With or without bacon, and that little pat of butter on top? However you take it, a steaming bowl of chowder on the Oregon Coast is liquid nourishment for the body and soul any time of year. Here’s your guide to some of visitors’ favorite bowls, so gather your dipping accoutrements (oyster crackers or saltines?) and enjoy.
An Oregon icon since 1946, Mo’s has locations in Astoria, Seaside, Cannon Beach, Otter Rock, Newport, Lincoln City and Florence. The silky-thin, buttery and bacon-studded base is a perfect vessel for dunking oyster crackers and thick garlic toast. With historic photos, a casual vibe and delightfully kitschy nautical decor at every Mo’s, this go-to spot has been a tradition for generations of families who’ve grown up associating Mo’s with the Coast. You can even get quarts of it shipped to you if you can’t find it in person.
The clam chowder at Dooger’s Seafood and Grill in Seaside and Warrenton is so craveworthy that the restaurant sells chowder kits to go, with everything from the sea clams to dried potatoes and double-super secret seasonings provided (just add half and half and heavy cream). In Seaside dine inside or walk two blocks down the Promenade for a beachside picnic.
Also in Seaside, the centrally located Crabby Oyster serves its own creamy version of clam chowder in a bustling, family-friendly setting just off the beach. Choose a cup, a bowl or upgrade to the classic bread bowl, or check out the cafe’s unique steampots — a selection of steamed seafood, corn and potatoes.
The ocean-to-table Salmonberry Saloon in Wheeler offers a more elegant but equally sublime preparation — a smoked seafood chowder with clams, smoked halibut, salmon and scallops, served with house-made bread and spectacular bay views. A buttery Oregon chardonnay or pinot gris pairs perfectly.
Gracie’s Sea Hag in Depoe Bay is another Oregon Coast institution, known for their chunks of sea clams happily swimming in a creamy base, topped with butter, parsley and paprika. Head outside for some post-lunch whale-watching; Oregon State Parks’ Whale Watching Center is just across the highway.
For more of an upscale joint, chowder hounds seek out the bread bowls of goodness at Georgie’s Beachside Grill, just north of the Yaquina Bay Bridge in Newport. Full breakfast, lunch, dinner and happy hour menus (yes, come for the cocktails) include everything from Dungeness crab benedict to seafood fondue. The dazzling ocean views will brighten any winter day.
Owned and operated by a local fisherman, Luna Sea Fish House in downtown Yachats offers both white (New England-style) and the harder-to-find-in-Oregon Manhattan-style, with a tomato-based broth. Don’t forget to grab something for the road, including their freshly canned albacore tuna and smoked Chinook salmon, available seasonally.
Visitors can’t stop raving about the bread bowls of fresh crab chowder at Novelli’s Crab and Seafood in Florence — part of a working fishing operation at the Port of Siuslaw Bay. Catch the action down at the dock or dine inside for a divine waterfront view.
Everything is locally sourced at the surf-themed SharkBites Cafe in Coos Bay, and their signature chowder is especially prepared with love. Made with fingerling potatoes, hard salami (yes, really), fresh herbs and tender sea clams, the creamy chowder is gluten-free and served with oyster crackers. If you still have room, don’t miss the local oysters and Dungeness crab cakes.
The nautical-themed diner at the Port of Port Orford serves some of the freshest seafood on the Coast. Part curiosity shop, part restaurant, Griff’s On the Dock is not fancy, but their thick and creamy clam chowder has been a visitor favorite for decades. Try the fresh-caught halibut too.
In Old Town Bandon, one of the best deals in town is the lunch special at Tony’s Crab Shack — a bowl of their luscious clam chowder along with thick ciabatta bread and a garden salad. Insider tip: The lunch special is served all day, a great budget-friendly meal. Sit at the tables outside on a nice day or take it to enjoy on a bench on the boardwalk, steps away.