The lobster roll has become the New England summertime sandwich of choice. Tasty chunks of lobster meat drizzled with butter or tossed with mayo and served up on a crisp, buttery bun are all the rage these days. Food and travel writer Mike Urban, author of Lobster Shacks: A Road-Trip Guide to New England’s Best Lobster Joints (Countryman Press, 2012) has shared his picks for the 10 best lobster rolls in New England.
Red’s Eats If you can handle the hour-plus wait in line on the sidewalk along busy U.S. Route 1, your sweet reward will be a magnificent lobster roll that’s known far and wide as one of the best in Maine. With tail, claw, and knuckle meat from a 1+/-pound lobster, this roll is bigger than most and may be had with mayo, warm butter, neither, or both. Wiscasset, ME. 207-882-6128
Five Islands Lobster Company This shack is perfectly positioned on the town dock to receive a steady flow of super-fresh lobster from the cold, deep waters of nearby Sheepscot Bay. The lobster is fresh-picked throughout the day, tossed with a bit of mayo, and served in a toasted, buttered, split-top bun lined with a leafy piece of lettuce. Cold rolls only are served here; no butter. Georgetown, ME. 207-371-2990; fiveislandslobster.com
The Clam Shack This is the best lobster roll in the six-state region. Owner Steve Kingston’s meticulous use of fresh-daily, soft shell lobsters and chilling each handpicked order on ice creates a freshness of flavor unmatched anywhere. Served on toasted, buttered hamburger-style buns from a local bakery, the Clam Shack’s cold-meat rolls may be had with mayonnaise or warm butter. This is the lobster roll by which all others should be measured. Kennebunk, ME. 207-967-3321; theclamshack.net
The Lobster Pool Nestled in a quiet corner of Cape Ann, this pretty little spot serves up the best lobster roll between Boston and the New Hampshire border. Each roll at the Pool is made to order with generous chunks of lobster mixed in a small bowl with mayo, then placed atop a crunchy leaf of lettuce and wedged into a toasted, buttered split-top bun. Butter may be substituted for mayo, on request. The Pool’s lobsters are procured fresh daily from a supplier in neighboring Gloucester, then cooked up and hand-picked at the Pool throughout the day. Rockport, MA. 978-546-7808; lobsterpoolrestaurant.com
Lobster Landing Owners Enea and Cathie Bacci have put a unique Italian spin on their hot, buttered lobster roll at this quaint, dilapidated shack next to the Clinton town harbor. Instead of making their lobster rolls with split-top hot dog buns, they load their warm, buttered lobster meat into hefty Italian grinder rolls that have been toasted on a standard-issue, propane-fired backyard barbecue grill. The result is a warm, buttery, crispy-crunchy lobster roll that pleases in both quantity and quality. Clinton, CT. (860) 669-2005
Rye Harbor Lobster Pound Down by the town dock in Rye Harbor is a tiny, sunny shack that serves some of the most innovative lobster dishes anywhere in New England. From Lobster Gazpacho to Lobster Pizza, there’s plenty to try here. Don’t miss the hot lobster roll with the meat bathed in a warm butter-and-sherry sauce and served on a buttered split-top bun that’s toasted on a plug-in griddle. There’s also a cold roll with mayo, a touch of celery, and a hint of lemon. Rye Harbor, NH. 603-964-7845
The Friendly Fisherman On a relatively tame stretch of U.S. Route 6 about 20 miles south of Provincetown sits the Friendly Fisherman, a quaint seafood market with a tree-shaded seafood shack attached to it. This place serves up an honest, genuine cold lobster roll with five ounces of meat, a touch of mayo, a crispy leaf of lettuce, and a mightily burdened split-top, buttered, toasted hot dog bun. Big chunks of claw meat always appear on top of the roll for presentation’s sake—and what a presentation it is. Cold rolls only are served here; butter may be mixed in, upon request. North Eastham, MA. 508-255-6770; friendlyfishermaneastham.com
Anthony’s Seafood This warehouse-like seafood market on a commercial strip north of Newport masks a wonderful eatery that serves up a heaping, six-ounce lobster roll that comes with fries, coleslaw, and a pickle for a belt-busting plate of lobster-roll goodness. The picked-fresh-daily lobster meat is tossed with a bit of mayo and lightly sprinkled with white pepper. The price tag is higher than most, but the extra cost is well worth it. Middletown, RI. (401) 846-9620; anthonysseafood.net
Quoddy Bay Lobster This small seafood market and lobster shack is about as far northeast as you can go in the United States. Owned by a local lobstering family, Quoddy Bay Lobster is blessed with its location astride the deepest, coldest port and waters on the Eastern seaboard, perfect for propagating big, tasty lobsters. Their cold-only lobster roll comes plain or with mayo, Miracle Whip, or drizzled butter. They recently added a jumbo 8-ounce lobster roll on an 8-inch bun to the menu. Eastport, ME. (207) 853-6640
Abbott’s Lobster in the Rough This venerable institution of lobster goodness also recently added an item to their menu: the OMG Lobster Roll—seven ounces of warm, buttered lobster meat stacked like a cone between two toasted, buttered hamburger buns–with a long toothpick through the center to hold the whole thing together. This is an upsize version of Abbott’s famous hot, buttered lobster roll, which looks much the same, only at about half the size. Abbott’s also serves a cold lobster roll, with the meat lightly bathed in Abbott’s house dressing and served in a more traditional toasted, split-top hot dog bun. Noank, CT. (860) 536-7719; abbottslobster.com
What do you think? Are these the best lobster rolls in New England? Share your favorite lobster picks in the comment section below.
MORE LOBSTER ROLL LOVE:
This post was first published in 2014 and has been updated.