: Robbie McClaran

Warm up with These Chowder Spots on the Oregon Coast

February 12, 2019 (Updated December 6, 2021)

Editor’s note: Face coverings (ages 5 and up) are required at all indoor public spaces statewide, regardless of vaccination status. Learn more here.

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.

Mo's chowder isn't for everyone, but it is an Oregon institution and a family favorite, with several locations along the Coast. (Courtesy of Mo's)
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North Coast

The clam chowder at Dooger’s Seafood and Grill in Seaside is so crave-worthy 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). You can 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.

An Oregon icon since 1946, Mo’s offers outdoor seating at all three of its North Coast branches (in Astoria, Seaside and Cannon Beach), with heaters and rain cover at the Seaside branch. It’s not for everyone, but 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. If you find yourself farther south, there are additional outlets in Newport, Lincoln City, Florence and Otter Rock.

Nothing warms the bones like a bowl of seafood chowder from Offshore Grill in Manzanita, just two blocks from the beach. This creamy chowder is made with local black cod, scallops, halibut, Oregon bay shrimp, Arctic clams, pork belly, potatoes, celery and onions and served with warm housemade bread. It’s also gluten-free.

From the outside, the mildly ramshackle Old Oregon Smokehouse in Rockaway Beach doesn’t look like much, but it’s what’s inside that counts. This little seafood shop draws crowds of in-the-know Oregonians with its crab cakes, fish ’n chips, and hearty clam chowder, with a couple of picnic benches out front for seating. Just try to get there early as popular dishes do sell out, or head to their second location in Tillamook.

Luna Sea Fish House by Robbie McClaran

Central Coast

Gracie’s Sea Hag in Depoe Bay is an 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 viewing platform is just across the highway.

If you prefer your chowder in a hearty bread bowl, Chowder Bowl in Newport’s Nye Beach is the place to go. Its location close to the shore makes it a good spot for picking up a to-go order for a picnic on the sand, though you may find it easier to just grab a covered table on the outdoor patio. They also sell their chowder base by the pint and quart — you just need to add milk.

For more of an upscale experience, chowder hounds seek out the bread bowls of goodness at Georgie’s Beachside Grill, just north of the Yaquina Bay Bridge in Newport. Their New England-style chowder is available by cup, bowl or bread bowl. They also have a full breakfast, lunch, dinner and happy-hour menus (yes, come for the cocktails), which 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 has two locations: one in downtown Yachats and a second location in nearby Seal Rock. Both offer white (New England-style) clam chowder and the harder-to-find-in-Oregon Manhattan-style version of the dish, 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. Both locations have outdoor seating, with rain cover and outdoor heaters at the Yachats branch.

Unless you’re willing to catch it yourself, you’ll be hard-pressed to find fresher seafood than what’s on sale at Krab Kettle in Florence. Family-run since 1962, this little seafood market serves up some delightful clam chowder that you can enjoy hot off the stove at the picnic table out front.

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.

You can't get much closer to the sea than at Griff's on the Dock in Port Orford, where the little restaurant sits in the parking lot of a large crabbing operation. (Griff's On the Dock by Shawn Linehan)

South Coast

Everything is locally sourced at the surf-themed Shark Bites Cafe in Coos Bay, and their signature chowder is specially 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.

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. The nautical-themed diner with a cozy patio at the Port of Port Orford serves some of the freshest seafood on the Coast. 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 a thick piece of ciabatta bread and a garden salad. Insider tip: The lunch special is served all day, making it a budget-friendly dinner option. Sit at the tables outside on a nice day, or take it to go and enjoy your meal on a bench on the boardwalk, which is just steps away.

About The
Author

Jen Anderson
Jen Anderson writes and edits Travel Oregon's e-newsletters, annual Visitor Guide and other editorial content. She loves finding the latest places to eat, drink and play around the state with her husband and two young boys. Brewpubs, beaches and bike trails top the list.

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