The lobster stand at Sprague’s Lobster.Photo Credit : Mike Urban
For many travelers, Wiscasset, Maine, is ground zero for lobster rolls, due to the little red stand on the north side of U.S. Route 1 just west of the Sheepscot River. Wiscasset’s real culinary treasure, however, lies on the town dock across the street from that famous red shack. Sprague’s Lobster serves a righteously fine lobster roll, and it has two big pluses over its cross-street rival: there’s no long line to stand in, and it serves whole-lobster dinners with all the trimmings, which isn’t on the menu at Red’s.
Sprague’s owner, Frank Sprague, has been in the lobster business since the 1970s. He started out as a caterer with a lobster cooker attached to the back of his vehicle. Seeking a less transient way to make a living, Sprague leased spots along the banks of the Sheepscot River in Wiscasset, eventually settling into his current location on the town’s expansive riverside dock in the late 1990s.
Sprague’s Lobster is a true family operation. Frank’s wife, Linda, is there with him every day, along with their son, daughter, and various grandchildren. It’s a homey place with two sheds—one is a fry shack and the other a lobster stand where Frank holds court, cooking whole lobsters, steaming clams, and making his superb clam chowder from scratch every day in his chowder pot.
Sprague’s lobster roll is the biggest draw here. It comes with generous chunks of whole claw meat on top of a pile of hand-chopped tail and knuckle meat, all tucked into a buttered, toasted split-top bun. You may have it with melted butter, mayo, or both. The roll stands up well when compared with its competitors across the street. There’s also an excellent fresh-picked Maine crabmeat roll, a hefty fried haddock sandwich, and a fish and chips basket.
If clams are your thing, you’ll love the homemade chowder, which is of the milky, Maine variety. It’s perfectly seasoned and chock full of clam chunks and cooked cubes of potato. You may also wish to try the crispy clam cakes, the battered, fried clam fritters, or a pound of steamers with butter and broth.
Sprague’s generous lobster dinner comes with a whole lobster cooked in seawater, corn on the cob, steamers, coleslaw, and a dinner roll. For those who wish to steer away from seafood, there’s a wide variety of hot dogs, hamburgers, and other sandwiches as well as generous servings of fresh, hand-cut french fries. Gifford’s Ice Cream is scooped up for dessert from Sprague’s tiny ice cream window at one end of Frank’s lobster-cooking stand.
Zydeco, blues, and jazz music play on a continuous loop throughout the day, much to the delight of locals and tourists alike. Years ago, Frank rigged up a clothesline between the fry shack and lobster shed. Whole-lobster dinner orders taken at the fry shack are clothes-pinned and zipped over to the lobster stand, with a clanging cowbell heralding the order’s dispatch. Kids love this throwback communications device and squeal with delight when orders fly across the deck. Sprague’s is also pet-friendly, with numerous water dishes available for customers’ four-legged companions.
So, the next time you’re passing through Wiscasset, give Sprague’s a try and see what you think. Once you’ve received your tray full of victuals and you’re settled into one of the numerous picnic tables with magnificent views of the river, be sure to give a friendly wave to the folks standing in line across the street.
Have you ever visited Sprague’s Lobster?
This post was first published in 2018 and has been updated.