Let’s start off by making sure we’re all talking about the same place.
The Clam Bar, Smith’s Clam Bar, Smitty’s or “That clam place in Somers Point”.
Yep, they’re all the same place. For our purposes, the Clam Bar.
My brother, a local, preached the gospel of the Clam Bar for some time, prompting me a few years back to finally say “sure, let’s try it”. He wasn’t wrong.
The Clam Bar is a throwback to shore eateries of yore. Ramshackle tables, a formica counter, long lines, cheap prices and good, fresh seafood. Nothing fancy here. Just fresh fish and shellfish, standard side dishes (cole slaw, french fries, etc.)
Here’s the setup: always topnecks and littlenecks on the menu, available steamed or raw. Clam chowder, red or white and both excellent, always on the menu. A printed menu (with hand colored covers by elementary school students) lists the stuff that is always available: Fried clam strips, soup, chicken fingers, burgers, tuna fish sandwich, fried shrimp, etc.
The marker board is where you want to look. It lists the fish available that day, always at least four, sometimes as many as seven. Tuna, bluefish, mako, salmon, grouper and others. Usually offered in your choice of four or five different styles. Tuna in an olive oil, wasabi and lemon sauce has been a “special” every day for as long as I’ve been coming here. It is what I get on almost every visit. Fresh nuggets of just prepared tuna broiled in a delicious sauce served piping hot.
All of the fish and food here is great. If you can get seated.
While it’s promoted as a place the “locals” go, really it’s weekend and summer visitors like me who populate the clientele. During the day, Margate and Ventor residents seem to flock here. At night, Somers Point and Ocean City folks are your fellow diners.
After you find a parking spot (not always easy), you head in and give them your name (presuming you’re not jockeying for one of the twenty or so counter seats) and they tell you the wait. 30 minutes. 60 minutes. 90 is not unheard of in the evening.
It’s BYOB and because of NJ’s open container laws, you MUST drink whatever beverage of choice you enjoy from the red plastic cups provided by a floating enforcement crew. They’ll also happily open your wine bottles for you.
I look forward to my meals here and don’t get to enjoy them as often as I’d like because of the crowds and the wait. It’s not air conditioned and the crowds and the wait can be prohibitive.
The Clam Bar is open from May to September, noon to 9 during the week, noon to 10 on Friday and Saturday. They open at 4 prior to Memorial Day and for the few weeks after Labor Day they are open. It’s worth the wait. They don’t take reservations.
Smith’s Clam bar
910 Bay Avenue
Somers Point, NJ 08244