For many Americans, lobster rolls bring to mind memories of summer vacations on the East Coast. Anyone with recollections of this kind will likely be aware of the rolls' two main iterations: Connecticut-style and Maine-style. For those unfamiliar, Connecticut-style lobster rolls are served hot and filled with lobster, butter, and a squeeze of lemon. On the other hand, Maine-style rolls are served cold and use mayonnaise as well as a smattering of herbs and seasonings. Both styles of lobster roll are immensely popular and are served across America's East Coast and beyond.
Given the regard in which lobster is held, it's unsurprising that all types of lobster rolls are not the cheap meal they once were. Just how expensive they have become, however, is alarming. Post-pandemic, many restaurants and shacks are serving lobster rolls that cost over $30. Of course, such high prices raise expectations, and subsequently, the stakes associated with ordering one. No one wants to pay $30 for a subpar sandwich.
With this in mind, we have put together a list of the United States' best lobster rolls. We selected the rolls, and the establishments that make them, based on reviews from previous customers as well as those working for media brands. In other words, each and every lobster roll on this list is a certified crowd-pleaser worth every dollar you spend on it.
Bite Into Maine: Portland, Maine
Thanks to its proximity to lobster fisheries, Portland, Maine is home to several places that serve exceptional lobster rolls. One of the city's best comes from Bite into Maine, a brand with two brick-and-mortar establishments and two food trucks. Lobster rolls are served at all four locations in six different styles: Maine, Connecticut, Picnic, Chipotle, Wasabi, and Curry. Those customers eager to try more than one flavor can opt for Bite into Maine's Flight Rolls to get a trio of mini lobster rolls each stuffed with a different filling. Don't agonize over this decision too much though, as customers tend to be happy regardless of which style they choose.
According to reviews, every roll is packed high with a generous amount of exceptionally juicy lobster meat. What's more, each style comes with moderate toppings, with a slather of mayonnaise here or a sprinkling of chives there. Even the more outlandish options don't impinge on the lobster, allowing this impressive seafood to always remain the star of the show.
https://www.biteintomaine.com/(207) 289-614231 Diamond St. Portland, ME 04101
Guilford Lobster Pound: Guilford, Connecticut
The key to exceptional lobster rolls is access to high-quality lobster; the fresher the better. While many restaurants in Connecticut have access to fresh lobster, few serve anything fresher than Guilford Lobster Pound. That's because the lobster on sale in this restaurant is caught every morning by the business owner, Captain Bart Mansi. In an effort to highlight the exquisite quality of the lobster, Guilford Lobster Pound only serves classic, Connecticut-style hot lobster rolls, drizzled with butter.
Guilford Lobster Pound offers less choice than other establishments such as Bite into Maine. However, the quality of the roll, which is well-toasted and buttered before being stuffed with four ounces of premium lobster meat, more than makes up for it. In fact, reviewers are willing to overlook a whole host of challenges — including poor parking — if it means getting their hands on one of Guilford Lobster Pound's hot lobster rolls.
For those seeking a more adventurous alternative to Connecticut-style lobster rolls, Guilford Lobster Pound also serves an audacious Lobster Grilled Cheese. That being said, many ex-customers swear by keeping it simple and enjoying the classic lobster roll.
https://www.guilfordlobsterpound.com/(203) 453-6122505A Whitfield St. Guilford, CT 06437
The Clam Shack: Kennebunkport, Maine
Open since 1968, The Clam Shack serves a $29.95 lobster roll. When french fries, coleslaw, and sauce are included, the price increases to $33.95. This is by no means cheap, but the award-winning roll manages to more than justify its price. Each roll boasts five ounces of fresh lobster claw, knuckle, and tail meat taken from animals that are caught and processed daily. All lobsters are cooked in seawater and served atop a specially-designed bun.
The use of a homemade bun in place of a classic roll is not without controversy. However, reviews consistently laud the exquisite quality of The Clam Shack's lobster rolls, claiming that, while not the biggest roll, it is one of the utmost quality. A reviewer at Roadfood even described eating here restaurant as entering "lobster roll nirvana."
The Clam Shack has been featured in high-profile publications including Forbes, The New York Times, and Eater. In other words, it's no hidden gem, and customers should expect queues during the busy summer months. Rest assured, however, that The Clam Shack's lobster roll is nationally famous for good reason and is well worth the wait.
https://www.theclamshack.net/(207) 967-33212 Western Ave. Kennebunk, ME 04043
McLoon's Lobster Shack: South Thomaston, Maine
McLoon's Lobster Shack is a family-owned establishment that has gained a reputation for selling some of the finest lobster rolls in Maine. Here, diners have two options. The Lobster Roll contains four ounces of tail, knuckle, and claw meat while the Lobster Rolls Royce offers double the amount of meat, served atop an eight-inch roll. Both are served with chips, pickle, and coleslaw.
The quality of both lobster rolls is only rivaled by the setting in which they're eaten; McLoon's Lobster Shack is situated on a working harbor right by the water, giving diners impressive views to enjoy alongside their meal. What's more, guests can complement their roll with whatever other food and drinks they fancy. McLoon's Lobster Shack even allows customers to bring their own items to supplement their meal, including wine and salads. So, if you're looking for a spot to enjoy that bottle of Champagne you've been saving while also enjoying one of the country's best lobster rolls, McLoon's Lobster Shack is the place for you.
https://mcloonslobster.com/(207) 593-1382315 Island Rd. Spruce Head Island, ME 04858
Twelve: Portland, Maine
As with any popular dish, lobster rolls offer brave chefs an opportunity to make a statement. Usually, this is done by reinventing some aspect of the dish with the aim of creating something new while still remaining familiar and comforting. That's exactly what executive chef Colin Wyatt and pastry chef Georgia Macon have done with the lobster roll at Twelve, an up-scale restaurant located in Portland, Maine.
Given that Wyatt has previously worked at both Eleven Madison Park and DANIEL it's not a shock that Twelve's take on the lobster roll is refined. Half a lobster is served inside a deliciously flaky, almost croissant-like pastry bun. This luxurious combination makes for a striking dining experience which is made all the more impressive when diners learn the pastry is made from kamut, a pure type of wheat that originated in Ancient Egypt. Unsurprisingly, this show stopper has wowed everyone, even those reviewing for national media publications.
Of course, such decadence does not come cheap. Diners can expect to pay $39 for the lobster roll appetizer when dining a la carte. Those who want to enjoy the lobster roll as part of their prix fixe experience will be charged an extra $20 on top of the usual $90 price tag.
https://www.twelvemaine.com/(207) 910-7400115 Thames St, Portland, ME 04101
New England Lobster Market & Eatery: Burlingame, California
Good lobster rolls are few and far between on America's West Coast. Here, crab reigns supreme. New England Lobster Market & Eatery bucks that trend thanks to the live Maine lobsters it has flown to the restaurant on a daily basis. These animals are used to make a variety of lobster rolls including both the classic Connecticut and Maine styles. More uniquely, New England Lobster Market & Eatery sells something known as a Crobster — a roll topped with both crab and lobster meat. The restaurant also serves the Seasonal, a lobster roll that's topped with bacon and avocado.
At $37.95 there is no disguising that the Seasonal is a very expensive lobster roll. That being said, many diners, including the team at The Michelin Guide, deem it one of the restaurant's highlights, celebrating both the roll's flavor and the liberal amount of flavorings used to season it. While the Seasonal might not be a traditional lobster roll, there's no doubt that it's an incredibly flavorful one.
https://newenglandlobster.net/eatery/(650) 443-1559824 Cowan Rd. Burlingame, CA 94010
Red's Eats: Wiscasset, Maine
When it comes to lobster rolls, Red's Eats is America's worst kept secret. The small shack is often frequented by celebrities like Andrew Zimmern, has won numerous awards, and was even featured on an episode of Netflix's hit TV show "Somebody Feed Phil." As a result, Red's Eats boasts a sizable queue whenever it's open, and customers often have to wait for up to two hours to be served. The vast majority of these patient people are here for one thing only: The establishment's famous lobster roll.
It's no exaggeration to say that Red's Eats has garnered thousands of positive reviews throughout its long history. Many of these laud the sheer volume of lobster that comes with each roll; Red's Eats claims that every roll contains more than an entire lobster's worth of meat. Given the volume of lobster used, together with Red's Eats' reputation, customers should expect to pay a premium. Prices depend on the availability of fresh lobster and have reached as high as $34 in the past.
https://www.redseatsmaine.com/(207) 882-612841 Water St. Wiscasset, ME 04578
Neptune Oyster Bar: Boston, Massachusetts
Waiting in line at Neptune Oyster Bar is a rite of passage for anyone living in Boston. The 37-seat restaurant is busy — and rightfully celebrated — thanks to the impressive range of fresh bivalves it serves. Yet, oysters are not the only menu item that has earned the restaurant acclaim, with many customers championing the Maine Lobster Roll just as emphatically.
Similarly to Red's Eats, Neptune Oyster Bar does not skimp on the lobster meat, cramming an entire crustacean into a single brioche roll. Two options are available: A cold roll with mayo in the Maine style or hot with butter as those in Connecticut prefer. Both are exceptional as attested by Boston Magazine which named Neptune Oyster Bar's the best lobster roll of 2023. This lobster roll has been a firm favorite of the city for nearly two decades, and it looks set to remain that way for some time.
https://www.neptuneoyster.com/(617) 742-347463 Salem St. Boston, MA 02113
The Travelin' Lobster: Bar Harbour, Maine
The Travelin' Lobster serves five different lobster rolls: Hot Roll, Classic Roll, Naked Roll, Slaw Roll, and Lobster BLT. All are made with knuckle, claw, and tail meat and can be ordered in two ounce, four ounce, or six ounce sizes. Such a choice all but ensures there's a lobster roll for everyone. Even those who can't make their mind up are catered for thanks to the Sampler, a selection of three two-ounce rolls with naked, classic, and hot fillings.
Customers have noted how The Travelin' Lobster's lobster rolls are generous in size. That being said, the smaller details of each roll are not overlooked — even the dipping sauces are reported as being perfectly executed. What's more, The Travelin' Lobster offers gluten-free rolls, allowing those with gluten intolerances to enjoy the excellent food. As it's such a popular spot, The Travelin Lobster often has a queue and is known to sell out before closing.
https://thetravelinlobster.com/(207) 288-80281569 ME-102, Bar Harbor, ME 04609
Ford's Lobster: Noank, Connecticut
Kris and Kerrie Haring started selling lobster rolls during the 2010s in a last-ditch attempt to keep the family business open. This gamble was a huge success, and nowadays, Ford's Lobster is famed for its unique lobster rolls. The most traditional of these is called, simply, the Lobster Roll, and features four ounces of lobster meat served in either the Maine or Connecticut styles. While excellent, Ford's Lobster is better known for two other rolls: The Lobster Bomb and the Bisque Bomb.
A firm favorite of many customers, the Lobster Bomb eschews tradition in favor of volume. It is made from a bowl of hollowed-out bread stuffed with eight ounces of tail and claw meat. Again, this roll is served hot with butter or cold with mayonnaise. Those looking for an even more extravagant experience can opt for the Bisque Bomb which is a Lobster Bomb topped with Ford's Lobster's lobster bisque. Both bombs make for an unforgettable dining experience although some people think the Bisque Bomb is almost too over the top.
https://www.fordslobster.com/(860) 536-284215 Riverview Ave. Noank, Connecticut 06340
Red Hook Lobster Pound: New York City, New York
Red Hook Lobster Pound was opened in April 2009. Over the years, it developed a reputation for serving some of the best lobster rolls in New York thanks to owners Ralph Gorham and Susan Povich sourcing excellent lobsters from Maine. These lobsters are kept alive in the restaurant's two tanks until they're required for service, giving the meat an unrivaled freshness.
Maine-style and Connecticut-style lobster rolls are both available at Red Hook Lobster Pound. Two further styles, a BLT with lobster salad and a fried lobster roll topped with mayonnaise, are also available. All are exceptional thanks to the lobster's freshness. All of the rolls only feature claw and knuckle meat and prices range from $32 to $44 for one. Thankfully, all of the sandwiches are good enough to warrant such prices.
https://www.redhooklobster.com/(718) 858-7650284 Van Brunt St. Brooklyn, NY 11231
Belle Isle Seafood: Winthrop, Massachusetts
Belle Isle Seafood's lobster roll stands out for many diners thanks to the huge serving of lobster meat that just about obscures the bun beneath. Customers have a choice of knuckle and claw meat or, at a slightly higher price, lobster tail. Both options give diners eight ounces of meat that's served Maine-style, cold and tossed with mayonnaise. The lobster rolls are served alongside a choice of french fries, onion rings, coleslaw, or rice.
One Boston.com reader is so enamored with Belle Isle Seafood's lobster roll that they said, "If you're not getting your lobster roll from here then you've lost at life! Most lobster on a roll ever! Hands down the best. It's not loaded with all that lettuce you really don't want. It's not over mayo'd!" These positive aspects of the lobster roll have not come about by chance. In an interview with Phantom Gourmet, owner Jim Costin highlighted that he always wants the majority of his dish's taste to come from the seafood itself. The result of his approach is a huge, yet refined lobster roll that's a firm favorite of everyone who's tried it.
https://www.belleisleseafood.net/(617) 567-16191 Main St. Winthrop, MA 02152
Saltie Girl: Boston, Massachusetts
Saltie Girl is a much-loved Boston restaurant, best known for serving an impressive selection of tinned seafood. This unique take on restaurant-served seafood has been hugely successful, leading to the expansion of Saltie Girl. Sites have now opened in both Los Angeles and London.
Given that tinned seafood dominates the menu, less focus is given to the lobster roll than the dish deserves. This causes many people to overlook the fact that Saltie Girls' lobster roll is a solid iteration of the dish, generously topped with high-quality lobster and served in a pleasingly browned bun. Furthermore, professional critics have been impressed by the homemade sea salt and vinegar potato chips that accompany the roll.
The lobster roll is served either hot or cold and is always sold at market price. When served alongside some of the best tinned seafood in Boston, this local staple really comes into its own.
https://www.saltiegirl.com/(617) 267-0691279 Dartmouth St. Boston, MA 02116
Becky's Diner: Portland, Maine
Becky's Diner is a Portland institution and has served locals and tourists alike for over 30 years. Any restaurant that wants to reach this kind of status in Maine needs to include a no nonsense lobster roll on its menu and Becky's Diner does exactly that, packing 5.3 ounces of lobster meat into every roll that leaves the kitchen. In an effort to keep all customers happy, the lobster roll can be served with mayonnaise and shredded lettuce or a side of melted butter. Both options come with french fries, coleslaw, and pickles as standard.
What makes this lobster roll unique is the setting. Becky's Diner is a hotspot for locals, and oozes character. It's even been featured on the hit TV show "Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives." Thankfully, the fame has had no impact on the lobster roll, which remains an honest and hearty meal.
https://www.beckysdiner.com/(207) 773-7070390 Commercial St. Portland, ME 04101
How We Chose The Lobster Rolls
We selected the lobster rolls, and the establishments that make them, based upon a mixture of professional and amateur reviews, including those published by major media brands and personal blogs. We focused on establishments that have been serving lobster rolls for long periods of time and have a demonstrated emphasis on using fresh lobster.
Read the original article on Daily Meal.