New England

The Best Lobster Roll in Every New England State

Want to know where to find the best New England lobster rolls? Our state-by-state guide will have you in lobster roll heaven.

By Yankee Magazine

Aug 17 2022

Best Lobster Roll Every State Catrine Kelty

McLoons Lobster Roll | South Thomaston, Maine

Photo Credit : Mark Fleming

New England lobster rolls are fairly new on the scene, at least relative to other classic regional foods. Perry’s in Milford, Connecticut, is credited with the invention of hot buttered lobster on a bun, c. 1929. Before that, there was the cold, mayo-dressed dish known as lobster salad, but as any New Englander knows, the bun’s the thing. Ideally, it’s split-top and griddled until buttery and browned. And hot dog buns are definitely a 20th-century invention.

So it’s taken fewer than 100 years for lobster rolls to become the ultimate New England summer dish, the it-isn’t-vacation-until-I-have-it standard-bearer. And wherever your travels take you in our region this summer, we’ve got you covered with our favorite New England lobster rolls in all six states.

New England Lobster Rolls | The Best in Every State

New England Lobster Rolls | The Best in Every State
The lobster roll at Lobster Landing wins points for its large chunks of butter-drenched meat.
Photo Credit : Kelsey Liebenson-Morse

Best Lobster Roll in Connecticut:
Lobster Landing in Clinton

We may prefer split-top buns in general when it comes to New England lobster rolls, but we’ll make an exception here. Owners Enea and Cathie Bacci serve a pile of beautifully buttered lobster meat in fluffy, Italian-style grinder rolls. And though it lacks the crisp exterior of a classic roll, it’s really quite delicious. One common peril of the Connecticut-style hot buttered roll is overcooked meat, but the Baccis cook their lobster with a careful hand. Combine that with their rustic, shack-chic eatery and the water view, and you have yourself a winner.

SEE MORE:Lobster Landing | The Best Lobster Roll in CT

New England Lobster Rolls | The Best in Every State
One of the advantages of a roll from McLoons is that you can order it prepared with half mayo and half butter.
Photo Credit : Amy Traverso

Best Lobster Roll in Maine:
McLoons Lobster Shack in South Thomaston

Yes, the location is stunning: a small red shack on the water, with a working lobster pound mere steps from your picnic table. And it’s fun to watch the crews unloading crates while you tuck into your lobster rolls and grilled clams. But the roll’s the thing here, made with candy-sweet meat and served on a perfectly buttered bun. Even better, they serve the mayo in the bottom of the bun, rather than mixing it with the meat, and that clarity of flavor makes a bigger difference than you might expect. There’s a butter version, too, and half-and-half for fence-straddlers. In 2017, Yankee senior food editor Amy Traverso named it the best lobster roll in Maine after sampling nearly two dozen contenders. 

New England Lobster Rolls | The Best in Every State
The cold lobster roll with mayo at Row 34 in Boston.
Photo Credit : Amy Traverso

Best Lobster Roll in Massachusetts:
Row 34 in Boston

Chef-owner Jeremy Sewall sources his lobster from his cousin, Mark, who captains a boat out of York Harbor, so the meat is always ultrafresh. We like both the hot-butter and cold-mayo styles (the later is jazzed up with aromatics like lemon and celery). The one caveat: You’ll pay Boston prices here. But we think that a roll this good is worth it. Note: You can also find this roll at Row 34’s location in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

SEE MORE:Where to Find the Best Lobster Roll in Boston

New England Lobster Rolls
The presentation is classic New England, but a bit of sherry in the butter sauce is a welcome variation.
Photo Credit : Aimee Tucker

Best Lobster Roll in New Hampshire:
Rye Harbor Lobster Pound in Rye Harbor

While both the cold and hot lobster rolls at this tiny waterfront spot in Rye, New Hampshire, are tasty, we can’t resist the hot roll bathed in a butter-sherry sauce that brings to mind classic seafood dishes of yore, like lobster Newberg. The sweet meat and nutty-tangy wine are a heady combination, and even better when eaten with a cup of chowder on the side (it’s made with clams but comes with chunks of the same sherry-scented lobster meat).

New England Lobster Rolls | The Best in Every State
The lobster roll at Matunuck Oyster Bar is also one of our top picks for New England lobster rolls available in winter.
Photo Credit : Mike Urban

Best Lobster Roll in Rhode Island:
Matunuck Oyster Bar in South Kingstown

Given the care with which owner Perry Raso raises his oysters in the waters of Potter Pond, it’s no surprise that the restaurant he opened at the eastern edge of that same pond takes no shortcuts with its lobster rolls. Lobster meat is sweet and tender, not oversauced, and abundant. Order a roll with a plate of fresh Rhody oysters, and you have yourself a meal.

SEE MORE:Where to Find the Best New England Lobster Roll in Winter

New England Lobster Rolls | The Best in Every State
Honeypie serves a butter-sauced roll with herbs, celery, and a squeeze of lemon.
Photo Credit : Honeypie

Best Lobster Roll in Vermont:
Honeypie in Jamaica

Don’t underestimate New England’s only landlocked state when it comes to delivering in the lobster department. Honeypie, the casual sister restaurant to the Beard-nominated SoLo in South Londonderry, takes its burgers and sandwiches seriously, including a buttery roll accented with chives, lemon, and celery. It’s a welcome addition to a meat-driven menu and a great accompaniment to one of Honeypie’s signature milkshakes, which come in flavors such as salted caramel and rhubarb-basil. Where are your picks for the best New England lobster rolls? Let us know!

This post was first published in 2018 and has been updated.

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