B&G Oysters (Boston, MA)
The buttered, lightly browned top-split hot dog bun was overflowing with Maine lobster meat in a lemon aioli.
Hank's Oyster Bar (Washington, D.C.)
Chef-owner Jamie Leeds gets her slightly sweet, pillowy-soft potato rolls baked at a D.C. local bakery. At the event they were filling them with an ice cream scooper's worth of lobster, which was mixed with celery bits and not too much mayo.
GT Fish and Oyster (Chicago, IL)
The restaurant (from the same people behind Boka, Perennial and Girl & The Goat) has actually only been open for a couple months. The lobster is shipped to Chicago from Maine, and placed on a roll that's a few notches sweeter than brioche. There's celery involved, but not finely minced like with many of the others—they leave the pieces bigger, crunchier.
Ditch Plains (New York, NY)
The poached lobster meat is mixed with garlic aioli, tarragon, parsley, scallions, celery and Old Bay, and stuffed into a grilled potato roll with melted butter.
Lobsta Truck (Los Angeles, CA)
You don't see many lobster rolls in LA, and when you do, they're usually served on a white tablecloth, not from a truck. Justin Mi just started rolling out (har har, get it; rolls on wheels) six months ago, and just launched a second truck, too. The fresh lobster is flown out to California from the Northeast. He serves them with a little mayo, a sprinkling of Old Bay, and lemon wedge on the side. This was one of our favorites of the 18 competitors. On the truck, you can also get the Connecticut-style roll with melted butter juices.
Lamb's Club (New York, NY)
This claw and knuckle meat from Maine is butter-poached and served in a long, grilled bun. Each one gets a generous squirt of the "secret sauce" and chives on top.
Mary's Fish Camp (New York, NY)
Chef-owner Mary Redding's entry is prepared with lobster chunks from Spruce Head, Maine (from the "Miss Elizabeth" boat said a chalkboard on their table). It's in a lemon-juicy mayo mixed with some simple salt and pepper, on a toasted hot dog bun.
Luke's Lobster (New York, NY)
Maine-born Luke Holden, the reigning Lobster Roll Rumble champ, doesn't get fussy with his roll. The chilled lobster sits on a buttered, toasted split-top bun with just a swipe (not a globule like many others) of mayo, a drizzle of butter, and shower of his homemade concoction (not Old Bay!) made with celery seed, oregano, and other spices.
Nettie's Crab Shack (San Francisco, CA)
Not creamy at all. The Maine lobster meat gets the butter treatment, then goes into a griddled, split-top bun. Served with homemade pickles (including cauliflower and okra).
Camden Harbour Inn (Camden, ME)
Though many of the featured restaurants use Maine lobster, this was the only competitor actually located in Maine. The meat comes from right from those Camden shores, then gets gussied-up with a citrus mayo, herbs, and pickled shallots on a toasted roll.
Ed's Chowder House (New York, NY)
The buttery, soft roll is stuffed with knuckle and tail pieces, some mayo (but thankfully not too much) flavored with tarragon and lemon zest, and celery bits.
Old Port Lobster Shack (Redwood City, CA)
Located south of San Francisco, Old Port is owned by husband-and-wife team Russell and Lynn Deutsch. They mix the lobster meat with lime mayo and some green onion, stuffing it in a warm buttered hot dog bun. For being so far away from the New England lobster motherland, they sure make a mean lobster roll.
Red Hook Lobster Pound (New York, NY)
At their Red Hook storefront as well as the Brooklyn Flea, owners Susan Povich and Ralph Gorham serve a pretty New England purist lobster roll. The fresh-caught Maine meat is just barely dressed with lemon mayo. They also serve a Connecticut-style version drenched in butter.
Shaw's Crab House (Chicago, IL)
Chopped Maine lobster meat mixed with Hellman's mayo and parsley, all loaded into a grilled, buttered hot dog bun.
Summer Shack (Cambridge, MA)
Since opening in Cambridge in 2000, Jasper White's Summer Shack now has four locations throughout Boston. The chilled, creamy lobster salad is mixed with cucumber nubbins and sits atop a long, crisp bun.
Lure Fishbar (New York, NY)
"How do you make lobster better? Bacon and tomato!" according to chef Josh Capon. This one was somewhere between a BLT-minus-the-L and a lobster roll. At the event, he was serving them in Martin's potato rolls, which squished together the Maine lobster meat, cucumber, celery, and chives in a mayo sauce spiked with Tabasco, Dijon and lemon juice.
Mermaid Inn (New York, NY)
The flaky, buttery brioche bun is filled with lobster meat coated in chef Michael Cressotti's creamy sauce.
BLT Fish (New York, NY)
The toasted brioche roll gets Maine lobster meat that's been tossed with mayo, lemon juice, tarragon (and you can really taste it), celery, and capers.