Gallery: 17 Lobster Rolls We Love in the Northeast

  • Red's Eats (Wiscasset, ME)

    Jessica Leibowitz

    After we recapped the TastingTable Lobster Roll Rumble, there was an outpouring of love for Red's. "The gold standard by which all other lobster rolls are judged," said Holly. "Any roundup of lobster rolls that omits Red's Eats is a farce by default," said entropomorphic. So, no need to get your feathers in a twist—it's definitely on this list! With its familiar candy-striped awning, the humble shack is only open in the summer, and the queue outside can easily be an hour long. Each roll gets a heap of lobster meat, ripped into chunks (never cut with a knife, because it can impart a metallic flavor). The meat, which comes in fresh every morning, is piled into a buttered, grilled split-top bun, and you have your choice of mayo or drawn butter on top. —The SE Team

    Red's Eats: 41 Water Street, Wiscasset, ME (map); 207-882-6128; Website

    Fishermen’s Net in Gray, ME (market price)

    Liz Bomze

    The butter lover’s choice, this out-of-the-way market offers multiple versions of its lobster roll, four of which come doused in melted butter—flavored or otherwise. Purists will enjoy the “Butter Smothered” roll, the tender, chilled claw and tail meat glossed with a few shots of sweet, milky goodness. Not a trace of filler to be found. Compared to its competition all along the coast, this one’s on the small side—but the price reflects that. (Market prices fluctuate, but our sandwiches didn’t break $10.) —Liz Bomze

    59 Portland Road, Gray ME 04039 (map); 207-657-3474; Website

    Fisherman’s Catch in Wells, ME ($15)

    Liz Bomze

    This is the place you think of when you think of summertime seafood-eating in Maine: Waterviews, a lobster tank inside the door, kitschy fishing paraphernalia hanging from weathered wood beams, high prices (our roll cost close to $15), and service with a genuine smile. Almost every element of their roll is textbook: fresh-picked tail, claw, and knuckle meat; a delightfully squishy, buttered hot dog bun that’s griddled until golden-brown; and just a touch of mayo to bind it all together. The one controversial element: a romaine leaf lining the bun. Some might argue that it serves a practical purpose, cupping the meat inside the roll and keeping it from turning the bread soggy; others would say it has no place being there. Either way, it adds an element of crunch that’s echoed by the accompanying garlic pickle spear and the snack bag of kettle chips. —Liz Bomze

    134 Harbor Road, Wells ME 0490 (map); 207-646-8780; Website

    Day’s Crabmeat and Lobster in Yarmouth, ME ($14.95)

    Liz Bomze

    This take-out counter—more roadside rest stop than restaurant—goes traditional all the way with a healthy helping of claw and tail meat that’s lightly touched with mayo and crammed into a griddled hot dog bun. It comes with a dill pickle spear, a ramekin of coleslaw, and a picturesque setting along Route 1’s marshy coastline. (Out-of-towners note that it’s less frou-frou than the Haraseeket Inn’s yacht-side picnic tables a few miles up the road). For the ideal Maine lunch, grab a bottle of Sea Dog Root Beer, some of our favorite root brew.—Liz Bomze

    1269 US Route 1, Yarmouth ME 04096 (map); 207-846-3436; Website

    Offshore Ale in Oak Bluffs, MA ($20.95)

    Liz Bomze

    The Leviathan of all lobster rolls, this once off-menu specialty was in such high demand that it landed a permanent spot on the brewery’s menu. Don’t be tempted to fill up on the free peanuts; the behemoth split-top bun is grilled and stuffed to the gills (the antennas?) with nothing but fresh-shucked meat lightly coated with mayo—a side of lemon brightens the whole package—and comes with a heaping pile of skin-on fries. —Liz Bomze

    30 Kennebec Ave, Oak Bluffs MA 02568 (map); 508-693-2626; Website

    Belle Isle Seafood in Boston, MA ($18.99)

    Meredith Smith

    A no-frills establishment stuck on a bridge between East Boston and Winthrop, Belle Isle Seafood is about as old-school Boston as you can get. Like the shack that it's served in, these lobster rolls don't mess around with fancy-pants garnishes. What you can expect is major pieces of lobster with mayo: I've had rolls with four entire tails shoved into it, and claws the size of your hand aren't abnormal. A leaf or two of iceberg lettuce add a bit of (completely unnecessary) crunch. Some may miss the balanced nuances of a well constructed lobster salad, but it big hunks of meat are what you're after, Belle Isle delivers. —J. Kenji Lopez-Alt

    Bennington Street, East Boston MA (map); 617-567-1619; Website

    Neptune Oyster Bar in Boston, MA ($25)

    Penny Cherubino

    Neptune's hot and cold lobster rolls both start the same way: with an awesomely buttery grilled bun from Iggy's (where pretty much all well respected restaurants in Boston get their bread from). After that, you get your choice of either cold chunks of lobster meat barely kissed with a bit of peppery, lemony mayonnaise, or the better option: warm, with plenty of sweet butter. The rolls are relatively small and pricey ($25 for about 5 ounces of lobster meat and a massive pile of excellent fries), but the best things usually are. —J. Kenji Lopez-Alt

    63 Salem Street #1, Boston MA 02113 (map); 617-742-3474; Website

    Korner Store in Oakland, ME ($18.95 for large, $10.95 for small)

    "The one and only Korner Store lobster roll," says the menu. It comes with shredded lettuce on the bottom (you can request it without) and a very light amount of mayo mixed with the lobster meat. The torpedo-style roll (not a top-split roll, we know, but this was one of the few exceptions we made) isn't toasted or buttered unless you ask, and of course we asked. The lobster is tender, with plenty of hefty claw and tail chunks sitting on top. —The SE Team

    26 Oak Street, Oakland ME 04963 (map); 207-465-3292; Website

    Chatham Pier Fish Market in Chatham, MA (market price varies; here, $19.95)

    Carey Jones

    There are any number of places on Cape Cod to get a lobster roll, but you really can't beat the fishing pier for freshness. The characteristically grey, shingled Chatham Fish and Lobster is just a few steps away from where the fishing boats dock with their catch each day; it's a fish market first and foremost, with huge tanks of lobsters and enticing displays of littlenecks and oysters and cod. But the prepared foods are why a casual visitor should stop by. The fried oysters and clams are incredible, but the cold lobster roll is every bit as memorable.

    It's got medium-sized hunks of lobster, both claw and tail meat (big enough that you really experience them, but small enough that you're not trying to gnaw through them) tossed in just enough mayonnaise to bind them together. It's served in a classic New England-style hot dog roll bun that's toasted in butter on both sides to a beautiful golden sheen; there's a shake of paprika on top, but you can't really taste it. The more unorthodox move is a single leaf of lettuce draped in the bun's opening; just a little crisp, a little freshness, and it keeps that soft bun from getting too soggy. —Carey Jones

    45 Briarcliff Avenue Ext., Chatham MA 02633; 508-945-3474; Website

    Abbott's Lobster Shack in Noank, CT ($14.50 for the hot lobster roll, $12.90 for the lobster salad)

    Ed Levine

    "There's the lobster roll itself, and then there's the setting. I can always get Vicky to join me at Abbott's because of the beautiful setting. You drive down a winding country road until you hit this quintessential lobster shack, right on the water. Boats go by and, sometimes even dock to eat here too. Abbott's serves both their signature hot roll, a quarter-pound of lobster meat tossed in butter on a buttered, toasted bun, served with an extra side of drawn butter—how's that for a butter trifecta? They do a cold lobster salad roll too, where the meat is mixed with some mayo." —Ed Levine

    117 Pearl Street, Noank CT 06340 (map); 860-536-7719; Website

    Lobster Landing in Clinton, CT ($15)

    Ed Levine

    "This one's on a foot-long, toasted, buttered hot dog roll and filled with a generous amount of fresh meat. No mayo here since it's the warm, buttery Connecticut style. And it sure is buttery, but the bun dutifully does its job without turning into a soggy towel. Great views of the marina, and the friendly staff will bring it to your picnic table when it's ready." —Ed Levine

    152 Commerce Street, Clinton CT 06413 (map); 860-669-2005; Website

    Jim's Dock in Jerusalem, RI ($17)

    Meredith Smith

    "Lobster Salad" rolls here are served on a New England-style split hot dog bun; it's first buttered, then grilled. Large leaves of lettuce line the buns and the hefty chunks of lobster meat, with only a light coating of mayonnaise, are tucked into the fold. The meat at Jim's is both minimally dressed and seasoned, allowing the sweetness of the lobster to be the defining characteristic of the roll. The open-air dining dock at Jim's juts out over the water, making it a summer only destination. It's located in the tiny fishing village of Jerusalem, which is little more than a cluster of houses and docks, but is as classically New England as the lobster roll itself. —Meredith Smith

    1213 Succotash Road, Jerusalem RI 028799 (map); 401-783-2050; Website

    Matunuck Oyster Bar in East Matunuck, RI ($15.59)

    Christian Harder

    The lobster roll at Matunuck Oyster Bar is made with fresh claw and knuckle meat. The portion is a bit smaller, but that just means you can actually pick this roll up and eat it like a sandwich! The roll is more of a grinder roll then a hot dog bun. Be sure to get a table at the outdoor patio, where you can watch the oyster boats come and go every couple of minutes delivering oysters from up and down the Rhode Island coast directly to the shucking bar. And, be sure to have an oyster or a dozen while you're there. —Christian Harder

    629 Succotash Road, Wakefield RI 02879 (map); 401-783-4202; Website

    [Photographs: Christian Harder]

    Champlin's Seafood in Narragansett, RI ($15.99)

    Christian Harder

    This Rhode Island establishment is located on the fishing port of Galilee. All the seafood, including the lobster, is brought in fresh from the boats daily. The roll is overflowing with lobster meat, equal parts claw and tail, which is tossed lightly in a mayo-lemon mix, but only a hint of it is noticed. The hot dog roll is toasted with butter and it's small, making it secondary to the meat, but also making it nearly impossible to pick up and eat. There is one large, fresh piece of lettuce that separates the bun and the lobster, which keeps things from getting soggy. —Christian Harder

    256 Great Island Road, Narragansett RI 02882 (map); 401-783-3152; Website

    [Photographs: Christian Harder]

    Red Hook Lobster Pound in NYC ($16)

    Shell Tu

    If you can't make it out to their storefront in Red Hook, Brooklyn, then follow @redhooklobster for their truck's roaming whereabouts around the city (they also have one scooting around D.C.). Susan Povich (originally from Bath, Maine) and her husband started the Red Hook Lobster Pound back in 2009, when they were trucking up to Maine to stock up on live, freshly caught lobster to drive back and sell in Brooklyn. They do both types of rolls: the cold one with just a wee bit of mayo and celery chunks, and the Connecticut-style, served warm, grilled in butter, with big ol' red mitten-shaped claw meat hanging. No matter which you get, though we like the cold one in the summer, the lobster meat is tender, delicate, slightly sweet, and piled high in a top-split bun, which they pick up in Biddeford, Maine. —Erin Zimmer

    284 Van Brunt Street, Brooklyn NY 11231 (map); 646-326-7650; Website

    Luke's Lobster in NYC ($14)

    Robyn Lee

    Maine-born Luke Holden doesn't get fussy with his roll. The chilled lobster—which comes from his dad's commercial seafood company based in Portland—sits on a buttered, toasted split-top bun with just a hint (not a globule!) of mayo, some butter, and a shower of his homemade spice concoction made with celery seed, oregano, and some other secret spices. You can also buy two-ouncer mini rolls here ($8) if for some reason you can't handle a whole one, which would be just silly not to. —Erin Zimmer

    Multiple locations, but the original one is 93 East 7th Street, New York NY 10009 (map); 212-387-8487; Website

    Pearl Oyster Bar in NYC ($29)

    Robyn Lee

    This one's definitely on the pricier end of the spectrum in NYC, but it's also pretty huge, and you have to be fine with mayo. The lobster salad is mixed with some diced celery bits and chives. Thankfully, it's a sit-down restaurant so you have a fork and knife next to you; good luck trying to pick this one up, gracefully at least. You'll also fork up some of the lobster chunks spill-over. —The SE Team

    18 Cornelia Street #2, New York NY 10014 (map); 212-691-8211; Website