Traditional Fish and Chips Mashed Peas
Traditional Fish and Chips Mashed Peas

10 Can't-Miss Dishes When Cruising to New England

It's no secret that people cruise to New England because of its rocky coast and charming towns. But tasting New England cuisine can also be one of the best parts of your trip.

Published on February 2, 2020

New England has some of the most delicious cuisine around. It's inspired by all four seasons and its rocky coast, combining the older English methods of steaming and boiling with ingredients familiar to Native Americans like corn, game, shellfish, potatoes, cranberries, maple syrup and cornmeal. As far as food in New England goes, you'll find everything from Boston baked beans to delicious root vegetables to a plentiful assortment of fish and shellfish. Is there a better meal than fish and chips followed by Boston cream pie?

New England has something for every palate. Here are the top 10 dishes you have to try while on a cruise to New England.

1. Fish and Chips

This is a staple of the cuisine in New England and for good reason. Fish and chips are popular among the middle class in England because of the dish's affordability. It was brought over to the U.S. and now you can find fried fish fillets and French fries to be a traditional food in the Northeast. The type of fish varies but some of the most popular types are cod, haddock and pollock. Typically, this dish is served up with a tangy tartar sauce and can be found at nearly every seafood shack. Delightfully as informal as its origins, it has been gracing New England menus for decades. Susan's Fish-n-Chips in Portland, Maine is a can't-miss when you're on a cruise to New England.


2. New England Boiled Dinner

This one-pot meal is traditional food in the Northeast and is perfect during any season when you visit New England. Known for its Irish roots, New England boiled dinner is a blend of vegetables, like carrots, turnips and onions, paired with salty corned beef and served up boiled to perfection. The most common condiments are horseradish, mustard and vinegar. The dish was likely influenced by the Irish settlers in Massachusetts, as was much of the food in New England. You can't miss building your own boiled dinner at Bootleg Special in Boston, Massachusetts.


3. Lobster Roll in Boston/Maine

You haven't had a lobster roll until you've had a Maine lobster roll — but that doesn't mean you have to be in Maine to enjoy it. Nearly all of the New England states import lobster from Maine and create their own twist on the iconic sandwich, which is a classic New England dish. Some create a lobster salad-style roll using mayonnaise, but the traditional way to enjoy one is with cooked lobster meat topped with melted butter on a buttered and grilled hot dog roll. Should you find yourself on a cruise to New England featuring a stop in Bar Harbor, be sure to head to Side Street Cafe or The Travelin' Lobster or, if you're in St. George, Maine, try Luke's Lobster.


4. New England Clam Chowder

Every New England state has its own take on this part of the cuisine of New England. More of a stew than a soup, this delicious treat is usually made with clams and a base of milk mixed with onions, vegetables and sometimes other ingredients such as salt pork. The perfect dish to warm you up during the colder months and satisfy your seafood craving during the summer months, the biggest difference between clam chowder across New England is the broth. Some use milk to create a thick and creamy broth and others use a clear broth made from clam juice. At Matunuck Oyster Bar in South Kingstown, Rhode Island, a delicious clam chowder is served up in a clear broth full of potatoes, bacon and either cherrystones or quahogs depending on what's available that day.


5. Boston Cream Pie

A classic Boston cream pie recipe is made up of three ingredients: yellow cake, pastry cream and chocolate frosting. This traditional food in New England features two layers of sponge cake filled with thick vanilla custard and topped with chocolate glaze. You'll know you've found a good Boston cream pie when the cake is spongy, the filling is smooth and chilled, and the chocolate on top is firm. The only pie-like thing about this delicious dessert is that it's served in a round dish and cut in triangular slices as you would serve pie slices. For the best experience, enjoy this dessert in Massachusetts. After all, it is their state dessert. It even has its own nationally recognized day — October 23! It's said that the Omni Parker House hotel is home to the very first Boston cream pie so your best bet is to head there to indulge in this charming New England dessert.


6. Boston Baked Beans

It's perhaps the most iconic side dish in New England and an essential part of traditional food in the Northeast: Boston baked beans. This classic dish dates back to colonial times when the Native Americans would dig pits in the earth and slow-cook beans with maple sugar and bear fat. When sailors began to visit the shores of Boston, they knew they could always expect baked beans and coined it "Beantown." The traditional Boston baked beans recipe features dried navy beans baked slowly with molasses and salt pork, and that method has remained in many of today's recipes. As you can see, contemporary recipes don't deviate much from the original ingredients. Traditionally, Pilgrims and Puritans would often cook baked beans and brown bread on Saturdays, then eat everything on Sundays while observing the Sabbath. Now, you'll find families sitting down for "bean suppah'" on Saturday nights or on menus all across the region. When in Boston, head to Mr. Dooley's or The Black Rose and enjoy a side of baked beans with your entree!


7. Apple Cider Donuts

This is a classic New England food that you simply can't miss! Apple cider donuts can be enjoyed any time of year, contrary to what many people might think. But, of course, they do make for a particularly delicious and seasonal dessert during a fall trip to New England. The technique is as simple as adding the tangy and sweet cider as well as brown sugar and various spices to donut dough. For the ultimate apple cider donut experience, head to an apple orchard and avoid the supermarket knock offs. Brooksby Farm in Peabody, Massachusetts is a must! Many orchards are open seasonally or only offer the cider donuts during apple season (September–November) so be sure to do some research beforehand.


8. Fried Clams

New England fried clams are said to have been discovered more than one hundred years ago in Essex, Massachusetts, by Lawrence "Chubby" Woodman. This traditional food in the Northeast is best enjoyed on the coast of Maine or Massachusetts. The breading is lightly seasoned, and the final product is served with lemon wedges. You might find yourself reaching for tartar sauce or ketchup but try it with just the lemon first to really taste the flavor. This New England food is especially perfect if you're visiting in the summer. The Clam Box in Ipswich, Massachusetts and The Clam Shack in Kennebunk, Maine both come highly recommended.


9. New England Indian Pudding

This New England dish dates back to the 17th century. It's most likely descended from England's pudding, which is a sweet porridge made on the stove by stirring boiling milk or water together with wheat flour. In contrast, Indian pudding uses cornmeal, of which early settlers had plenty. Indian pudding's popularity decreased when packaged puddings became popular in the early 20th century but it's still remained a staple in the region. This deliciously sweet steamed pudding also has flavors of molasses, ginger and cinnamon and is a must-have despite being a lesser-known dish among tourists. While New Englanders commonly have it around Thanksgiving, you should be able to find it at various restaurants in the region year-round.


10. Maine Whoopie Pie

Unlike Indian pudding, the Maine whoopie pie is known all over the United States as part of the traditional food in the Northeast. Pennsylvania and Maine both lay claim to whoopie pies but the New England dish brings something extra-special. This sweet treat is more of a cake than a pie and is made up of two cake-like cookies about the size of a hamburger and filled with a fluffy white filling. They're rich, so we suggest enjoying one with a tall glass of milk. Just about every bakery will offer fresh whoopie pies but if you happen to stumble upon the brand Wicked Whoopies on your New England adventures, be sure to buy one! They will not disappoint. Whoopie pies are best in Maine and it's said that Labadie's Bakery in Lewiston is their birthplace.



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