Chowda. Lobsta. Lil’ neck. Massachusetts’ natives, or an Affleck or two, all know how to order at D.J.’s Clam Shack on Duval Street. Along with the distinct accent, Doug Bell, owner, is serving up the best of the best of northern seafood. Crave the traditional rich Maine Lobster Roll, or how about creamy clam chowder? Looking for coleslaw that is the right combination of vinegar and mayonnaise, or crisp crunchy onion rings? Bell knows how to cook his native favorites right.
Originally from Ipswich, Massachusetts, Bell, along with partner Jeff Gagnon from Blue Point, New York saw a hole in the culinary spectrum of Key West. Where was the Ipswich Fried Clams or Maine Lobster in a fresh Chicago roll? But not just northern specialties – Bell and Gagnon developed a menu complete with our local staples such as conch fritters, Key West pinks, and fish tacos – well, all tacos, pork, beef, chicken as well. Key West loves tacos.
“We only use claw and knuckle, no tail,” said Bell about his overstuffed Maine Lobster roll – an important fact to any lobster roll aficionado. “It’s all fresh and we can sell close to 100 pounds of lobster a day.” That’s a lotta lobsta. The roll is wicked good, drizzled perfectly with tarragon mayonnaise.
The conch fritters truly reflect the 5 years Bell took to develop the recipe. “There’s no toe meat (the hard chewy bits),” proudly said Bell, who makes every batch fresh with 10 pounds of good conch meat and fries them to order.
D.J.’s clam chowder should be packaged and sold on every street corner. Bell has found the perfect ratio of cream to broth, with bite-sized hunks of potato, fresh clams and herbs.
Everything is fresh and homemade at D.J’s, down to the cole slaw and side sauces such as Key Lime Mustard, Honey Chipotle BBQ and delicious secret-recipe cocktail sauce.
The popular show Diners, Drive Ins and Dives put D.J.’s on the map three years ago, and Bell still has the stories to tell. But Guy Fieri knew D.J.’s was something special. Bell and Gagnon are set to franchise, so get a taste now before everyone figures out that D.J.’s Clam Shack is a Key West treasure. Also no need to go to the packie, they have beer and wine too.
D.J’s Clam Shack
629 Duval Street
Open Daily 11:30 a.m. – 10 p.m.
“Guy Fieri, he’s a real character.” — laughed Doug Bell, of D.J.’s Clam Shack about having Diner’s, Drive In’s and Dives in Key West.