Park Avenue, Island Park, Portsmouth

If you're like us, you've been running all over the place looking at butterflies and historical markers and haunted rivers, and you're starving. And even if you're not like us, perhaps you're feeling a bit peckish anyway. Why not stop by Flo's Clam Shack for a quick bite to eat? Since 1936 they've served such traditional shore favorites as chowda (white, red, and clear), clam cakes, and spicy stuffed quahogs. Since 1994, Flo's has regularly garnered awards in Rhode Island Monthly's Best of Rhode Island polls for Best Clam Cakes, Best Clam Shack, and Best Fried Clams. Some of you with more cash than smarts might even opt for the fifty-dollar special—a bottle of Moet and two hot dogs.

The business began operation out of a renovated chicken coop in the Island Park section of Portsmouth in 1936 and soon became the favorite target of hurricanes. The original building was destroyed in the hurricane of '38. Its replacement was heavily damaged by Hurricane Carol in 1954, and pushed up the road by Donna in '60. In 1991 it was washed away by Hurricane Bob, leaving only the drive-in sign. Flo's was rebuilt once again, and in 1992 a second location was opened in Middletown. This time they picked a building that had already survived the '38 hurricane.

Perhaps because they had plenty of them lying around after the various hurricanes, Flo's used to hand out rocks with numbers on them to customers waiting for their orders. This can be taken as an indication of the general satisfaction of Flo's average clientele. How many other eating establishments do you know that regularly give their customers potential pojectiles? (Note: as of at least 2013, Flo's Island Park replaced their stones with an electronic lobster that blinks and vibrates when your order is ready. While it's certainly convenient for both staff and customer, we can't help but feel some rustic charm has been lost. The mind's picture of dozens of blinking plastic lobsters hurled by disgruntled and impatient patrons is a compelling one, though, isn't it?).

The Island Park Flo's may be somewhat overshadowed by its more prominently located offspring, but is no less worth a visit. While waiting for your order, check out the post that records the high-water marks from the hurricanes of '38 and '54.

Flo's was named for Flora Helger who, with her husband, Dimond (aka Vaz), took over the business around 1955. (We don't know what it was called before that). Flo passed away in 1993 and her namesake shacks are currently owned by Komes Rozes.

Komes Rozes explains the clam shack trinity on the CBN News Channel

Flo's Island Park is take-out only. There are a few picnic tables, and (across the road) the seawall overlooking the Sakonnet River, but no indoor seating. Make sure to bring cash, as they don't take credit cards.

Flo's Island Park is open Memorial Day through the end of October, Friday-Sunday, 11am-8pm; Closed during hurricanes.


Rhode Island Monthly's Readers' poll: Best Clam Cakes in Newport County (1999).

Reader Reviews

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Posted by Harry B on July 14, 2008
Member since July 2008
My friends Carter and Jimmy Winn ate there and said it was the best fried clam bellies they had ever ate. They are from Virginia and of course it was the first clam bellies they ever ate. They usually eat only BBQ or some other pork product. They tried to order the spicy stuffed clam but that was all sold out. Mizz Dorothy, Carter's lovely wife (she ain't biggern a minute), ate herself a lobster roll and told me it about split her wide open. It was that good. I'll eat there soon as I can
Posted by Charl53 on April 23, 2008
Member since July 2007
I have been going to Flo's Clam Shack in Island Park since I was a child, and I have NEVER dissappointed yet! By far the best fried clams, clam cakes and stuffies I have ever eaten anywhere. Love the 'shack' and the seawall.......New England at its best!

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