Lobster comes with a great view at Chauncey Creek in Kittery Point, Maine. If you’re looking for an authentic lobster-in-the-rough experience, this is the seafood shack for you.
Photo Credit : Brenda Darroch
As summer approaches, lobster shacks along New England’s coast start popping open, like flowers in bloom, for the short-yet-busy season. Connecticut-based travel writer Mike Urban, author of the book Lobster Shacks: A Road-Trip Guide to New England’s Best Lobster Joints, dishes his choices for the 12 best lobster shacks in New England.
Five Islands Lobster Co.
Located on a pier at the end of Route 127, Five Islands Lobster serves up some of the best cold-water, hard-shell lobster you’ll find anywhere. Throw in its award-winning fried clams and the shack’s magnificent view of Sheepscot Bay, and you’ll find it hard to leave. Georgetown, ME. Arnold’s Lobster & Clam Bar
Touristy though it may seem, Arnold’s is the place to go for succulently steamed lobster on the Cape. Owner Nate Nickerson III keeps the lines moving while serving more than a thousand customers on most summer days: lobster rolls, of course, but also crab cakes topped with guacamole and summer salsa. Eastham, MA.Chauncey Creek Lobster Pier
This delightful waterside eatery, worlds away from the outlet-mall crowds of nearby Kittery, sits on a 200-foot-wide planked pier astride a broad tidal creek. With its colorfully painted picnic tables and a bird’s-eye view of continuously passing watercraft, Chauncey Creek is a great place to BYOB and tuck into meaty, fresh lobsters imported daily from Canada’s cold waters. Kittery Point, ME. Abbott’s Lobster in the Rough
Abbott’s cooks its lobsters via the low-steaming method, in massive cast-iron vaults, to seal in all the crustaceans’ natural flavor. Dine next to the scenic harbor on a dock where striped bass feed on chowder crackers below. Abbott’s is also famous for its hot, buttery lobster roll—the version that’s a Connecticut original. Noank, CT. Thurston’s Lobster Pound
Housed on a two-story, screened-in deck overlooking scenic Bass Harbor, Thurston’s is tops for off-the-boat-fresh lobster on Mount Desert Island. There’s a commercial boat dock next door where lobsters are brought in throughout the day, then boiled in a massive outdoor cooker right outside Thurston’s front door. Bernard, ME. Roy Moore Lobster Company
This may be the friendliest lobster shack anywhere. Housed in a diminutive shingled building on Rockport’s Bearskin Neck waterfront, Roy Moore Lobster cooks its crustaceans continuously throughout the day, so there’s rarely a wait for a fresh-cooked meal. Start with owner Ken Porter’s thick, creamy clam chowder, and dine atop wooden lobster crates on the crowded yet friendly back deck. Rockport, MA. Brown’s Lobster Pound
Perched over the tidal Blackwater River near Seabrook’s inviting beach, Brown’s has been serving up fresh boiled lobster since 1950. The timber-frame dining hall is a great place to feast on lobsters, fried clams, lobster rolls, and creamy, spicy lobster bisque. The summer sunsets off the back deck are not to be missed. Seabrook, NH. The Place
This is just about the only place anywhere that steams and then roasts its lobsters over an open-air, wood-fed firepit. The flavor is as unique and delightful as the tree stumps that serve as seats around brightly painted wooden tables. Two other must-haves from the firepit here are the roasted clams and the flame-roasted corn on the cob. Guilford, CT. The Clam Shack
Don’t let the name fool you: There’s plenty of good lobster to be had at The Clam Shack. Owner Steve Kingston makes what may be the best lobster roll anywhere in his tiny riverside shack in downtown Kennebunkport. The lobster meat is picked fresh daily and kept ice-chilled until served on a toasted, lightly buttered burger bun. Kennebunkport, ME. Aunt Carrie’s
This shingled, Rhode Island–shore mainstay has been serving up fresh seafood for nearly 100 years. Known primarily as the birthplace of the clam cake, Carrie’s also serves excellent shore dinners of fresh boiled lobster, steamed clams, Rhode Island-style chowder, fried fish, and freshly baked pie for dessert. Narragansett, RI. [Editor’s note:This article originally included the Maine lobster shacks Cod End and Waterman’s Beach Lobster, which are now closed. In their place, the author recommends the following worthy contenders for New England’s best lobster shacks.]Shaw’s Fish & Lobster Wharf
A bit off the beaten path, Shaw’s in New Harbor is worth the trip. The lobster is “wicked” fresh, and the deck seating consists of picnic tables overlooking a picturesque harbor. The accommodations are casual, and the locals will tell you that this is the real lobster-eating deal.New Harbor, ME. McLoons Lobster Shack
One of the most picturesque lobster shacks in New England, McLoons is a relative newcomer, opening its doors in 2012 as an offshoot of the McLoons lobster wharf. Their four-ounce regular lobster roll and six-ounce “Rolls Royce” version are the most popular items, each served chilled, with mayo slathered on the bun or melted butter on the side. The whole steamed lobsters, pulled daily from nearby traps, are also outstanding. South Thomaston, ME.
What tops your list of the best lobster shacks in New England?
This article was first published in 2012 and has been updated.