Arnold’s Lobster & Clam Bar, located on Route 6 in Eastham, is an Outer Cape institution that’s known as much for its long lines as for the quality of its fried clams, lobster rolls and onion rings.
Oh, those onion rings! Arnold’s management claims to sell more than 2,000 pounds of them every week during the summer. I have no doubt it’s true. In fact they’re so good, they earned a spot on our list of the 10 Best Things to Eat in Eastham.
Thinly sliced, perfectly seasoned, and piled high on the plate, even a small order of Arnold’s onion rings ($4.49) will serve four people. You’d need a mob to polish off the large order ($5.99).
Arnold’s Lobster & Clam Bar owner Nathan “Nick” Nickerson has been serving high-quality seafood and other tasty stuff since opening his restaurant in 1976. The name was inspired by the TV series “Happy Days.” In fact the restaurant originally was a simple drive-up clam shack with roller-skating car hops, a malt-shop-style menu and 50’s decorative theme. As time passed, the space grew larger and the menu evolved but the name remained the same.
One of the things we like best at Arnold’s is their baked dinners. The Baked Wellfleet Scallops ($18.99) are sensational. Plump, juicy and sweet, they’re dusted with panko crumbs and served with a baked potato and green salad. It’s one of our go-to alternatives to fried food.
Arnold’s also offers baked Maryland-style crab cakes ($19.99), baked native cod ($17.99), and baked salmon ($19.99). The baked dinners are served only after 5 p.m.
Just as you enter the dining room at Arnold’s Lobster & Clam Bar you’ll see a free-standing hut-style structure that houses their raw bar. We’re partial to the Wellfleet oysters and native clams on the half shell, but they also serve Oysters Rockefeller, stuffed clams, shrimp cocktail and peel & eat shrimp.
The hut also is where you can buy bottled beer or beer on tap, wine by the glass and a range of cocktails. We really like that they donate profits from their Pink Lady Margarita to breast cancer research. We also applaud their sense of community; they created a scholarship in the name of a former employee for college-bound Cape Codders. That’s what we call doing well by doing good.
In addition to onion rings, Arnold’s menu standouts include lobster rolls and fried clams. Arnold’s Lobster & Clam Bar often is mentioned in the never-ending debate among Cape Cod-lovers about where to find the best.
The classic cold lobster roll ($15.99) includes a substantial number of chunks, is lightly dressed with mayo, and is served cold on a bed of lettuce. It comes with potato chips or fries. If you’re really, really hungry and have a fat wallet, you might want to opt for the jumbo cold lobster roll, which has twice the meat and costs $23.99.
The warm lobster roll ($16.99) is served with hot butter and a choice of potato chips or fries. The jumbo version is $24.99.
Arnold’s Lobster & Clam Bar offers a large variety of fresh green salads. You can add a jumbo lump crab cake, grilled salmon, grilled chicken, grilled shrimp, tuna salad or lobster salad for an extra cost ranging from $4.99 (tuna salad) to $13.99 (lobster salad). All of their salads make a great light meal.
We haven’t yet tried the Maine lobster bisque but we can vouch for the tastiness of the clam chowder. It’s not our favorite in Eastham but it is very good. Both the chowder and bisque are available by the cup, bowl, pint, quart or gallon (!!!).
Tired of eating seafood? Arnold’s serves hamburgers, hot dogs, grilled chicken sandwiches, grilled cheese, veggie burgers and BLTs. The kids’ menu includes all the usual suspects–chicken fingers, PB&J, fish and chips, mac and cheese, pizza and even spaghetti and meatballs–at prices that range from $4.49 (PB&J) to $9.99 (fish & chips).
The length of the aforementioned line that snakes out the door and into the parking lot often is matched by the line of folks waiting to order hard ice cream and soft serve. The whipped cream is real and the fudge sauce is hot. Yum! Italian ices, brownies and chocolate chip cookies also are available.
After lunch, dinner and ice cream, you can enjoy a round of mini-golf at Arnold’s phenomenal 18-hole course. It’s far and away the best in the area. The course features a pirate ship, treasure chest, waterfalls, streams and ponds.
Arnold’s Lobster & Clam Bar is located along the Cape Cod Rail Trail bike path and is open seasonally. The restaurant accepts cash, checks and traveler’s checks but no credit cards. There’s an ATM on the premises.