Few foods have a richer history than chowder, a hearty soup that we’ve been devouring for centuries. (The dish even made a cameo in Moby-Dick.) The creamy concoction, which traditionally includes clams, salt pork, potatoes, and other vegetables, allows for many variations. In the West, chefs play to local palates, infusing stews with Alaska salmon, green chiles, and other regional ingredients. Here are seven places to warm your heart this winter.
Aaron Pool spent years perfecting his spicy potato and corn chowder, which tingles the tongue with roasted serrano peppers, at Gadzooks Enchiladas & Soup in Phoenix. He recommends customizing your bowl at the topping buffet, adding tender bison meat for a savory note, salsa verde for an extra kick, or corn bread for sweetness.
In a city that’s serious about seafood, San Francisco’s Hog Island Oyster Co. takes it to another level. The bayside eatery overlooking the water grows Manila clams at its own 160-acre aquatic farm, then harvests the bivalves to bedeck each bowl it serves. Dig into the clean, briny clam chowder, or do as the regulars do and ask for the off-menu Hog Island oyster stew. The soup, packed with shucked oysters, is made to order.