Because so many travelers associate clam chowder with Cape Cod, we knew we’d have to research exhaustively to find the best, and so we did. Our favorite comes from an unlikely source: a deli in a tiny Eastham strip mall. Who knew? The creamy New England-style clam chowder at Sam’s Deli is stand-a-spoon-in-it thick with potatoes and large pieces of clam. The same chowder is available to take home from the Eastham Superette on Route 6. Everyone we know who’s tried it agrees that this is the best clam chowder in Eastham. Sam’s Deli and the Eastham Superette buy the chowder from Captain Parker’s Pub, a bustling family-friendly restaurant based in nearby West Yarmouth. Captain Parker’s clam chowder has won awards from a long list of publications and Web sites, including Cape Cod Life, Cape Cod magazine, Food Network magazine, Yankee magazine and Wicked Local Cape Cod.
Gerry Manning, owner of Captain Parker’s, is a former Boston schoolteacher who had long dreamed of launching a restaurant. He also turned out to be an astute businessman who understood the value of selling his estimable product to delis, stores and other restaurants. There’s a list online of Massachusetts and Rhode Island retail stores that sell the product. You also can buy Clam Chowder Base through Captain Parker’s Web site. Since it’s a frozen product it requires overnight shipping. Add light cream to the base and you’ll get more than two quarts of award-winning chowder.
If you like to cook from scratch, the Food Network magazine has posted Captain Parker’s Chowder recipe online. But you should note that it was written by a chef, not a home cook, and the yield would serve a small army or house full of hungry summer guests.
Pick up a quart of chowder and you’ll have enough for a hearty lunch or dinner for two back at your cottage or on the beach. You also can enjoy the chowder at Sam’s al fresco at one of the canopy-covered picnic tables alongside the store.