Cape Ann Dines Out!

Reviews for Woodman's of Essex ~ Essex

121 Main Street
Essex, MA 01929
Tel: (978) 768-6057
Fax: (978) 768-7198

Web Site:

Posted by Cape Ann Web at November 12, 2003 11:07 PM


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Posted by: More hints at January 14, 2015 03:39 AM

I'll keep this simple... while eating the fried clams my 7 year old son looked up to me and said "Dad, this tatses like someone farted in my throat."

Bang on food is greasy and disgusting.

Posted by: Jon at August 15, 2010 10:34 AM

I live in Essex and I stay away from the place. Overpriced and not that great. They gave me dishwater for coffee then when I complained said 'Our customers like it that way'!! Just shows how they are a legend in their own mind.

Go to Farnhams instead - down the road on 133 toward Gloucester

Posted by: Chris at August 8, 2010 12:57 PM

You can certainly join the crowds which believes long lines must indicate quality. Or you can think independently and go elsewhere.

The fried food is greasy, cooked by teens who have zero finesse. An ape could drop a clam belly into fry mix and pull the steel basket out of the oil too. It don't take NO genius son! However, changing oil requires some ability and sadly, no humanoid there seems to do with much regularity. Read my lips - rancid. But it's all about the show - a three ring circus of tourism and crowds. Must be good said one lemming to the other as it jumped off the cliff.

If you want better food you go to Farnhams, or Ipswich Clam Box. Woodmans is strictly for the tourists.

Posted by: Woof at September 20, 2009 09:35 PM

Long lines, overpriced just OK seafood. Go accoss the street for Sheas, down the street to the Village or Farhnams. Or for the BEST fried seafood go the Clam Box. Place lives on it's reputation and the tourists.

Posted by: Dave North Shore Boy at March 23, 2008 08:32 AM

I wanted clams. So I went here and my tummy felt funny. An my wallet felt empty. I ended up getting my own clamming license and now I can eat clams all the time without my tummy feeling funny.

Posted by: jim at January 22, 2008 10:11 PM

what a spot, thanks for everything.

Posted by: Jon brown at August 21, 2007 11:25 AM

To make it short, we are from southern MA near Cape Cod and know a quality seafood dish when we have one.. We purchased the fried clam plate at Woodmans in MA. It comes with onion rings and fries and we also purchased a side of a 1/2 doz clam cakes.. The clams were very TINY and lacked flavor, the onion rings were tasty but very greasy, the fries were the frozen type at best and the clam cakes were burned, very greasy and tasted HORRIBLE!! I personally would never go back. Do yourself a favor and spend your hard-earned money elsewhere!

Posted by: Pete at August 14, 2007 08:33 PM

The best fried seafood anywhere. It's like taking a trip back in time. We've been going for years and it's always consistent. The lobster prices are too high and they are reheated, so if that's not to your liking just order something else.

Posted by: buddan at August 10, 2007 12:34 PM

I've been eating here since I was a kid in the early 70's - the clams are, more or less, the same as they've always been - very good when they're in season and when the bellies are small. There are flies all over the place today just like there were 30 years ago - part of the experience. In all my years of eating here I've never ordered a lobster, I always knew not too - you also don't order the chowder, "clam cakes", clam strips, cheseburgers, etc. You order fried clams and rings - any local knows this. If you want lobster or steamers go elsewhere.

There are lines today in the summer unlike years ago but that's life - places get discoverred and tourists show up - if you don't like the lines don't show up on a Friday night in the summer at 6pm. Bottom line - the ambiance and food at Woodmans hasn't changed much, which is a good thing - but show up at the wrong time and order the wrong thing and yer on your own.

Posted by: Larry at June 12, 2007 12:29 PM

Wonderful. Their onion rings are to die for.
Scallops are always consistently good as are their clams. Sure it cost a bit more, but it's usually a twice a year visit or something special and worth it.

Posted by: Patty at June 5, 2007 05:24 PM

Since most locals know this place is a rip off and generally a dirty, poor quality seafood trap, do yourself a favor and keep driving down 133 to JT Farnham's or Ess-ex Seafood and have a much more pleasant experience if you're looking to dine on seafood in the rough. Don't be fooled by the line of people waiting at the door during peak season at Woodman's...they just don't know any better. Listen to the locals and skip the crowds by going to either of the 2 places mentioned in this review. You'll be happy that you did!!!

Posted by: Bubbles at April 2, 2007 02:14 PM

Worst food ever. Way too expensive!! I can get cheaper lobster in NYC restaurants....AND they cook them to order...not reheated!!! Only a fool would eat here. You have been warned!!

Pass right on by & go to rockport. The fish shack had lobsters for $15 last summer (but it is only open seasonally). There is also a place on the Neck that has lobsters in the rough for $12, or 3 for $35 (forgot the name, but it was featured on Fantom Gormet). You can eat them out back overlooking Rockport harbor...& can bring your own booze! Only drawback is it is touristy & parking can be a hassle.

Posted by: Steve at February 17, 2007 04:11 PM

Can you give a negative amount of stars?? This is by far the most overrated place in the history of dining out. I so pity the tourists that will get roped in by this place come summer.It is criminal to pay their exorbitant prices for the inferior food they serve. How do they survive the off season?? It is a disgrace that they re-heat a lobster and serve it at a five star price. You should pass right by and head to the Causeway or any number of Gloucester venues and you won't feel like you just got robbed.

Posted by: local that won't be back at January 17, 2007 07:01 PM

As a local, I had to bring friends here after they saw it on the food or travel channel (I forget which one). They have terrible food that is way overpriced. My girlfriend later vomited from the fried clams (but she does not eat fried food very often).....still there is no reason to dine here. I have tried it 4 times, all consistantly aweful!

Posted by: jimmy at January 17, 2007 05:25 PM

Once a great Clam Shack, now an overpriced tourist trap.
Food is not that great anymore,prices are stupid.
The locals know better.

Posted by: Dave at February 5, 2006 05:01 PM

Sometimes you should just take peoples word for it, I thought to myself how bad could this place possibly be, I cant even begin to describe it, Nasty Lobster, it must have been pre-cooked then heated in the microwave, and the Fried clams smelt like old burnt oil, (or lard for that matter). And if you ever want to see flies when there is snow on the ground you should definatly come here. I don't know how people can enjoy food from this Poop-hole. Be smart, read the reviews.

Posted by: Ed Martin at December 19, 2005 11:42 AM

What a crapcan! I lived in Manchester-by-the-
Sea for awhile, and have ridden horses in Essex
Co. since 1992. So like every other fool, I have
let myself be dragged there about four times.
Flies, trash, bikers... there are morons who
think that this is real-life grunge. So is a
back alley in Chelsea, but that does not make
it a restaurant, either. Avoid this place like

Posted by: Allan Blackwell at November 30, 2005 07:06 PM

WoE is an over-priced, over-rated nothing. If you want quality, go to Gilbert's in Portland, ME. It might not be pretty, and it's a trip for the Bostonian, but the crab roll is delectable and the service is not about standing in line, getting yelled at and having your order number yelled out over a loud speaker.

Posted by: Star Kennedy at November 7, 2005 12:09 AM

I first went to Woodman's in 1976 after getting out of the army. My brother lived in Gloucester and took me there as a treat. And it was. The place had a beguiling rustic ambience, undiscovered, off the beaten track back then. Gray, weathered wood, splintery benches, AC? Hah! The food was seapspray fresh and the service was first rate, kind of like going to someone's private cookout. No crowds, no lines, just walk right up and place your order. Prices were no more than you'd pay at most low-end restaurants. I loved it.

All that has changed. The negative reports are, sadly, not overdone. When I buy a lobster anywhere north of NYC I expect it to be dark green and kicking when I first lay eyes on it. Cooked and reheated? In New England? Come on! Isn't that what McDonald's does with its beef patties? And greasy is too kind a word to use. I'm a lot older now and lard is no longer something I can eat with impunity. Even in tourist infested Rockport you can get fresher, better tasting, and better priced crustaceans. Ah, for the good old days.

Posted by: Bob Foster at September 14, 2005 06:11 PM

This place is truly dirty, and yes the lard factor is both unnecessary and gross. There are so many places to get all the same things Woodman's offers- and they are cheaper, cleaner, and lard-free. Leave this place to those who care more about popularity than quality.

Posted by: MT at June 27, 2005 05:02 PM

There are so many clamshacks on the North Shore, you can be selective! This one was good many years ago but is now simply a tourist trap, and a dirty one at that.
By the way for anyone who cares: Woodman's uses LARD in all their cooking, and no that is not commonplace for clam shacks in the area. Yuck!??

Posted by: Janet at June 24, 2005 01:51 PM

Woodmans is horrible, that's all I have to say. Food was overpriced for what you got...lobster was tough, and cost 25 dollars even though it was tiny. The fries were the best thing, which says it all.

Posted by: liv at June 17, 2005 06:27 PM

What a disapointment! My heart dropped as I watched them pull my $$$ lobster, bright red and pre-cooked out of a refrigerator! Not only was it not completely re-warmed, but was flavorless too. Fried clams were greasy, but even worse were the steamers...of course we expect a little mud but even the outside shells were gritty - theycould have used a little rinsing. Woodman's has become a factory....can't wait until Roy Moore's re-opens in the spring!

Posted by: Nancy from NJ at February 22, 2005 01:09 PM

Why why why would anyone go here??? Every other Cape Ann "in the rough" seafood place is better. I winch whenever I see all those poor fools waiting for the overpriced mediocre food served here.

Posted by: JL at December 26, 2004 11:21 AM

Food is still good. ALTHOUGH, ordered lobster and they already boil in advance and then when you order - re-boil. Obviously not good. I know they do this due to large volume of people but quality has gone down. Fried food is always excellent. The prices have gone up and the cheesy commercial store attached now has given it a mass-produced tacky feeling. Why do you fix something when it isnt' broke?? so many places do this. Beginning of the end. I loved Clambox in Ipswich so much better. I miss the "Old" Woodmans - I hope they change because they are far too commercial and low quality now. :(

Posted by: Heidi B. at November 29, 2004 05:17 PM

Woodmans is the BEST seafood place I have ever been too!!! It is great! You eat in the rough, I love it. EVERYTIME I have been there busy (or not) I have always been pleased with my food!! I love it my clams were always cooked to perfection!! (lightly brown and not sandy)No other place will beat it!! Self-serve is great you get what you want when you want it:) I think that Woodmans is a place that everyone should visti before they die!! You dont know what you are missing!!Try it;)

Posted by: Tiffany at November 25, 2004 10:51 PM

TOURIST TRAP. Go down the street to Essex Seafood.

Posted by: Mel at September 21, 2004 05:04 PM

A go with the flow, funky little seafood shack serving up some fine seafood. Its a fun place with great portions and decent prices! Try the fried clams with a Bloddy Mary.

Posted by: Frank at August 30, 2004 08:03 PM

Ah yes!! The flies.
And the trash barrels, and the peeling paint, and the sticky tables. It's inconcievable why there is such a long line to get into this place all the time. They call in dining in the rough. Whatever.
You'll get your seafood, steemed lobsters, fried clams and what not, but you may or may not think it's better than any number of places within a 10 minute drive. And you will most certainly NOT be comfortable while you eat it.
My most recent experience there involved first: a ridiculous wait. Second: sticker shock at the register. And third: Did I mention the flies.
Way way too many flies folks. This is supposed to be a restaurant.

Posted by: Mikey at August 17, 2004 11:45 AM

Strange thatthis place gets such attention. Our experiences there (twice) were disappointing. The clams were overcooked to a black tinged brown and lacked flavor. All in all the hype is not matched by the results. There are a number of better clam stops in the general area that deliver the goods without the hoopla.

Posted by: Jay Sylva at June 18, 2004 11:20 AM

This place is great, and well worth the drive from Boston or an extra stop on the way home from vacation. Nothing fancy about this restaurant - think beer in plastic cups and fried clams in cardboard trays. Still, you can't beat this food - 2004 is their 90th year, and they sure have perfected the fried clam. It's not a fancy place, but it's not cheap either - I'm not sure their lobster roll is worth the $17. Cash only (they have an ATM in the back, but it charges a fee, so you're better off planning ahead). In warm weather, take your food out to the picnic tables out back.

Posted by: brookwood at January 5, 2004 03:22 PM

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