Best Fried Clams - 2008
New Top's Café
There is something so Cape Cod-ish about fried clams—the smell, the tartar sauce, the rubbery taste that rebounds the mouth with each chew—it makes you want to cozy up to a boiled lobster and suck out those green guts without questioning what the hell you're eating. Oh, of course, we have never been to Cape Cod or Martha's Vineyard or anyone's vineyard for that matter. So maybe our memory is more primal, something from our youth—yes, that's it—it's from the fried claims at the Howard Johnson's on North Central Expressway that closed in, what, the early '70s? That's the memory that's triggered when you order fried clams at New Top's, which is the same as the old Top's, only newer, and relocated next to the downtown library after the lease on the old Top's Main Street location was not renewed. Hang the cholesterol count, the clam strips at New Top's are fried but not greasy, likely frozen but fresh-tasting, inexpensive but not cheap-tasting. The owner, who doubles as the order-taker and triples as the cook, will fry just about anything: shrimp, chicken, beef, fish, hush puppies, and her burgers are downright delish. But it's the clams that keep us coming back for reasons only our inner HoJo can comprehend.