This recommendation borders on travesty, I know. At all other turns New England clam is the undefeated King Kong of the chowder arena. Manhattan clam chowder has long been the redheaded stepchild of soups: overlooked, underappreciated—even scorned. And often rightly so.
Normally the watery, red mélange doesn’t even count as a chowder, which is defined as a “thick soup,” and can’t hold a candle to its decadently rich and creamy cousin from up north. But all traditional criticisms fall by the wayside at Sand Bar in Brielle, New Jersey. About a mile or so in from the Manasquan Inlet, and adjacent to the Brielle Yacht Club, Sand Bar serves up some of the brothiest, spiciest, most savory chowder (of any sort) that you’ll ever have the good fortune to lay into. Order yourself a bowl on a rainy spring evening and grab a seat at the rickety bar that overlooks the Glimmerglass section of the Manasquan River. If a train rolls over the bridge in the middle distance and sounds its horn, you’ll understand why this is one of my favorite bars on earth. Decent burger, too. www.sandbarrestaurant.com