The Best Lobster Rolls In the US: TPG Staff Favorites
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To celebrate the first Friday of each month and the lucrative 3x points on dining on the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, we’re excited to kick off a monthly dining roundup. To get things started, we’re sharing our picks for the best lobster rolls around the country. Summer may be coming to an end, but lobster rolls are timeless.
We took the lead from Creative Director Adam Daniel Weiss who’s proudly attended Tasting Table’s Lobster Roll Rumble in New York the past four years in a row. “It’s my favorite foodie day of the year!” he exclaims.
The Clam Shack, Kennebunkport, ME
The Roll: The Clam Shack lobster roll ($16.75) won the Travel Channel’s Food Wars–and for good reason. The roll includes fresh picked meat from a one pound lobster on a New England style hot dog roll.
The Restaurant: A Maine summer staple, this fish shack is situated on the banks of the Kennebunkport River. Don’t expect fine dining here, as all dishes are take out, literally. All seating is outside, so diners can enjoy the fresh breeze and the delectable fish while sitting on lobster crates and picnic benches. Can’t stop craving their world famous lobster rolls? Then pick up a kit of your own. For $75, you can get one pound of fresh picked Maine lobster meat, mayo, a half dozen New England style hot dog rolls, a recipe and a greeting card send to yourself or a loved one—shipping included! —Lori Zaino
Stephanie’s on Newbury, Boston, MA
The Roll: The legendary Lobster Salad Roll (market price) features huge chunks of Maine lobster tossed in just a smidge of mayo and dijon mustard, then generously layered on a toasted brioche roll. Crunchy-fresh coleslaw provides a green, refreshing contrast, and though the fries are crispy, thin and lightly salted, they’re unlikely to steal any of the Salad Roll’s spotlight.
The Restaurant: There’s been a wait for a table ever since this wildly popular Back Bay spot opened in in 1994–especially on the see-and-be-seen, fenced-in patio on Newbury Street, one of Boston’s best shopping avenues. Housed in an unassuming brick building, the warm interior decor has a traditional New England feel with a fireplace and leather-upholstered chairs in the bar and lounge. Open seven days a week, some of the biggest draws on the menu are generous, pricey entrée salads (the Asian Yellow Fin Tuna Salad costs $22) and comfort foods like a creamy lobster pot pie. The bar features a revolving choice of seasonal sangrias by the glass or pitcher. If you want to skip the crowd at the flagship location, visit the newest outpost of Stephanie’s at Logan airport’s stylish new Terminal B. – Melanie Wynne
Eventide Oyster Co., Portland, ME
The Roll: At Eventide Oyster Co., you can choose to dress your lobster roll ($10) in Hollandaise sauce, specialty house mayo, or a brown butter vinaigrette. The lobster is placed atop a warm bun, and not just your run of the mill New England hot dog bun, but an Asian-style bun, steamed to perfection.
The Restaurant: This raw bar features over 20 different oyster varieties with a menu that changes daily based on what happens to be the freshest catch. Highlights beyond the famous lobster roll and the raw oysters include the lobster stew (seasoned with sherry and paprika) and the New England Clam Back, a medley of steamers, mussels, lobster, potatoes, salt pork and a hard-boiled egg in a bed of rock seaweed. The drink list is extensive, including homemade cocktails, a selection of beers and ales around the world. They even have beer that’s actually brewed with oysters called Dirty Pearl, a collaboration between Eventide and the Bunker Brewing Company. —LZ
L’Echon Brasserie, Miami Beach
The Roll: Come for lunch (served daily noon to 3 p.m.) for this classic Maine lobster roll ($26) on a brioche butter bun prepared with crème de citron, tarragon and celery with your choice salad or fries.
The Restaurant: The latest restaurant concept from Miami’s uber-successful and hyper-local Pubbelly Group, L’Echon Brasserie is their spin on French bistro fare. With a focus on small plates, creative deconstructions and reverence of the swine as a key ingredient in many dishes, the menu’s influences manage to span the European continent (pan con tomate, moule frites, tagliatelle a la truffle noire) and Asia (hamachi crudo) while presenting a united front to your palate. Located inside the newly opened Hilton Cabana, they’re open for breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week. One French bistro staple not to miss, the soupe d’Oignan with emmental cheese and a dash of sherry. –Shayne Benowitz
Grand Banks, New York
The Roll: This classic lobster roll ($25) is made with Maine lobster in a tarragon paprika mayo with “boat-made” pickles on a lightly toasted bun and served with a side of Old Bay seasoned potato chips.
The Restaurant: There may be no saltier place in New York to bite into a lobster roll than on deck the newly opened Grand Banks. Located aboard a historic 142’ schooner, the F/V Sherman Zwicker, and rafted up to TriBeCa’s Pier 25 on the Hudson River, Grand Banks is a chic maritime dining (and imbibing) destination. Come early to snag a spot at a table or at the bar and order a dozen oysters and a specialty cocktail of the day (with clever names like Death in the Gulf Stream) to accompany your roll. Just be sure to swing by before season is over on October 31 when the ship plans to motor south. –SB
Sam’s Chowder House, Half Moon Bay, CA
The Roll: So tasty that it’s been named one of the Today Show’s Five Best Sandwiches in America, the star attraction of the Famous Maine Lobster Roll ($22.95) is perfectly poached lobster tossed with just the barest hint of butter, chives and sea salt, then layered on a plain white, lightly toasted bun. Served with a fresh cabbage-and-carrot coleslaw and kettle-cooked potato chips, this roll can offer a hit of summer even on the foggiest Northern California days.
The Restaurant: Since its debut in 2006, this cliff-top hangout with amazing Pacific views has been lauded as one of the best outdoor dining spots in the San Francisco Bay Area. There are heat lamps out on the deck, a fireplace just inside and Adirondack chairs on the dog-friendly patio. Sam’s is known for its hearty clam chowder, but don’t pass up the fresh fish specials – the nearby waters are teeming with options. For those who want to skip the 45-minute drive south from San Francisco to Half Moon Bay, Sam’s bright red Chowdermobile delivers its lobster rolls and other seafood specialties to different locations around the City by the Bay. – MW
The Lobster Place, New York
The Roll: Stop by C&P Galley at Chelsea Market for The Lobster Place’s takeaway Maine-style Lobster Roll ($16.95) with pieces of fresh claw and tail meat served chilled with celery, scallions, lemon and mayonnaise, packed on a toasted, buttered split-top roll with a pickle and potato chips on the side.
The Restaurant: Whether you’re looking for a whole-steamed lobster, takeaway seafood items, or a sit-down restaurant, The Lobster Place has all three. The wholesale seafood market features up to 650 different types of seafood throughout the year, as well as prepared items, stove-top clambakes, and a full sushi bar. Next door, The Lobster Place’s sit-down oyster bar, Cull & Pistol, incorporates seafood from the wholesale market into their dishes, and is open seven days a week for lunch, and Monday through Saturday for dinner. For a takeaway alternative, C&P Galley serves up items like crab cake sandwiches, oyster po’boys, lobster bisque and fried shrimp. Be sure to try one of the picnic boxes with one of the sandwich staples, like the Tarragon Shrimp Roll filled with sweet shrimp, tarragon, capers, cornichons, parsley, chives and mayo, served with a bag of chips, homemade cookie and a root beer ($12.95). –Lane Nieset
Lure Fishbar, Miami Beach (also New York)
The Roll: Another classic lobster roll ($30) served on a brioche bun with slaw and salt and vinegar chips.
The Restaurant: This New York transplant set up shop at South Beach’s Loews Hotel in April 2014 and the accolades just keep pouring in. Named Best Seafood Restaurant by Miami New Times, you can enjoy your lobster in more than just a brioche roll here (lobster tempura sushi roll, lobster spring roll, lobster bisque and a two-pound Maine lobster). You can also feast on tuna, salmon, yellowtail snapper, crab and any other seafood delight you can dream up in a creative and mouth-watering preparation. Don’t miss the crispy rice cakes with tuna tartare and wasabi aioli, yellowtail carpaccio and their selection of dressed oysters. For an entee, the bucatini pasta with butter poached crab and uni crema is truly special. –SB
Todd English P.U.B., Las Vegas (also Birmingham)
The Roll: Celeb chef Todd English puts his signature spin on the lobster roll with his Brown Butter Lobster Roll ($24) sautéed in aioli and served with housemade slaw and kettle chips on a buttery brioche roll.
The Restaurant: A high-octane gastropub at Aria Resort & Casino’s Crystals shopping center, Todd English P.U.B. is a casual, yet stylish place to grab a pint (their craft beer selection is extensive and ever-changing) and a hearty meal surrounded by big screen televisions ideal for catching the game. The dining menu ranges from appetizers (beer battered pickles), burgers (hand-chopped ahi tuna), salads (iceberg wedge) and entrees (cioppino) all with a gourmet spin on typical pub grub. Reserve a draft table for a special occasion where you can fill your pints directly from the taps at your table with your choice of two craft beers. –SB
River House, Portsmouth, NH
The Roll: The traditional River House Lobster Roll ($19.95) features shredded lobster from neighboring Kittery, Maine tossed in a light dressing of citrus-mayo and diced celery, layered on a grilled brioche bun with green-leaf lettuce and paired with ridge-cut pickle chips and thick, golden fries.
The Restaurant: Set right on the Portsmouth Harbor waterfront with two lamp-heated balconies boasting views of vintage tugboats and the arched Piscataqua River Bridge, this local favorite is as New England as it gets. The interior is all aged brick and dark wood, the lower balcony is paved with weather-greyed planks, and the upper is covered on chilly or wet days. Open daily from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., this casual, tourist-friendly spot is known for warm, efficient service and a lively bar scene at happy hour, as well as one of Portsmouth’s most extensive gluten-free menus. Locally-caught seafood is the star here, most notably in a cream-based seafood chowder (brimming with lobster, scallops, shrimp, clams and haddock) that’s consistently been voted New England’s best by viewers of New England Cable News. – MW
The Dutch, Miami Beach (also New York)
The Roll: Chef de Cuisine Conor Hanlon prepares a killer New England lobster roll ($24) on the lunch menu at The Dutch Miami. Made with celery and tarragon and served on a potato bun, it hits the spot for a midday meal.
The Restaurant: Originally an outpost in SoHo by mega-chef Andrew Carmellini, the W Hotel South Beach location is going strong with an ever-changing local, seasonal menu highlighting fresh fish and produce. Start with a fried little oyster sandwich as your amuse bouche and scan the menu for whatever your tummy desires, from light selections like a corvina ceviche or yellowtail crudo to heartier fare, like steak tartare in a truffle vinaigrette topped with a quail egg to downright filling homemade papardelle with lamb ragu, sheep’s milk ricotta and mint. Craving lobster at dinnertime? An exquisite lobster pot pie is currently on the menu in a warm puff pastry with the requisite carrots and peas. –SB
B & G Oysters, Boston
The Roll: The 2014 winner of PBS affiliate WGBH’s award for Boston’s best lobster roll, B & G’s Maine Lobster Roll ($23 at lunch, $29 at dinner) features lobster claw meat gently tossed with a light, zingy dab of lemon aioli, a bit of minced celery and a sprinkling of chives, then cozied into a split-top, toasted and butter-brushed roll and served with sides of skin-on fries and bread-and-butter pickles.
The Restaurant: The South End mainstay of James Beard-award-winning chef Barbara Lynch since 2003, this subterranean local hangout has is renowned for its extensive raw bar and friendly bar scene. Grey ceiling tiles, blue-grey walls and unpolished wooden floors create a cool, laid-back vibe that evokes the nearby Atlantic Ocean, and the best seats in the house are at the marble-topped bar surrounding an open kitchen, which gleams with stainless steel. Open for lunch and dinner seven days a week, menu highlights include 12 varieties of oysters and a huge lobster BLT that sparked a Beantown sandwich trend. – MW
Red Hook Lobster Pound, New York
The Roll: Find the NYC food truck or take a seat at the Manhattan restaurant for this popular Maine-Style lobster roll ($16) stuffed with a quarter pound of fresh-caught Maine lobster prepared with homemade mayo and served inside a grilled, split-top hot dog bun with a Brooklyn Brine pickle on the side.
The Restaurant: Taking its namesake from the spot where husband-and-wife duo Ralph and Susan opened their lobster pound, Red Hook Lobster Pound has brought its lobster rolls from markets in Brooklyn to restaurants and food trucks in Washington, D.C., Montauk and New York City. Red Hook focuses on sustainable and fresh caught lobster from Maine with simple rolls of claw and knuckle meat that allow the lobster’s fresh flavor to really stand out. The newest outpost in Manhattan is tucked away at the end of Extra Place Alley in the East Village and is open for lunch and dinner Tuesday through Sunday. When the weather gets cooler, the Connecticut-Style lobster roll ($16), served hot with butter and lemon, is a must-have. –LN
Thames Street Oyster House, Baltimore
The Roll: Winner of “Fan Favorite” at Tasting Table’s 2014 Lobster Rumble, the New England Lobster Roll ($23) is a decadent dish of simple beauty: great big, intact chunks of lobster tail and claw meat brushed with butter, set on a butter-brushed, toasted white roll, and served with a side of yet more butter. The three pairing choices are a salad of vinegary-sweet cucumber slices sprinkled with chives, a ramekin of lima beans baked in brown sugar, or a pile of boardwalk-style fries spiked with Old Bay Seasoning.
The Restaurant: Since its opening in 2011 in a former 1700s storehouse in the historic Fells Point district, this tavern has attracted a crowd of Baltimore chefs and raw bar aficionados. Reservations are recommended for the upstairs dining room (especially popular for its views of the Patapsco River) and when it’s warm, for the iron bistro tables on the enclosed back patio. The downstairs is dominated by a carved-mahogany bar that offers seasonally–inspired cocktails (like the autumn/winter Hot Buttered Rum) and beers that include bottles from Maryland breweries, such as Baltimore’s Heavy Seas and Frederick’s Flying Dog. If you still have room after a lobster roll, try the Lord Baltimore raw bar combo (a relative steal at $50) or the decadent lobster mac-n-cheese with aged gouda. – MW
Ironside Fish & Oyster Bar, San Diego
The Roll: Arguably the best lobster roll in Southern California – where this East Coast specialty is still an uncommon find – Ironside’s enormous version ($19) was created by Michelin-starred chef Jason McLeod. It features a full pound of lobster-tail meat strewn with a crispy tangle of fried shoestring onions and a dusting of diced chives, served on a buttery, house-made brioche, and paired with a mound of dark-golden fries and a luscious side of lemon aioli.
The Restaurant: Designed by local hospitality group CH Projects (Craft & Commerce, UnderBelly) to look like an early 1900s ocean liner, this Little Italy seafood hotspot has a soaring dining space decorated with whimsical octopus-arm sconces and a wall lined with real piranha skeletons, as well as copper-topped tables, leather chairs edged with brass studs, and arches of theater lights over the splashy and seemingly endless bar. The cocktail menu is wildly inspired with everything from delicate Champagne concoctions to tipples spiked with small-batch whiskies and bourbons. Aim to arrive before 7 p.m. to catch the one dollar oysters at happy hour, and enjoy beer-braised mussels and a citrusy shrimp-and-scallop ceviche with California avocado. – MW
Yankee Lobster Co., Boston
The Roll: Swing by Boston’s Seaport District and try the much-talked-about Maine lobster roll ($18.99), served on a split-top bun stuffed with a generous portion of fresh claw and knuckle lobster meat, diced celery and herbed mayo with sides of coleslaw and fries.
The Restaurant: The small, family-owned restaurant and fish market is a local favorite that has also caught national attention, thanks to an appearance on Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives with Guy Fieri. Set right on the water, the often-packed restaurant and patio has a laid-back vibe and fresh seafood dishes (the lobsters are held in tanks just out back), which can all be found on the blackboard menu boasting classic seafood and American fare—think fried oysters, crab cakes, hamburgers and chicken wings. Pull up a seat at one of the wooden tables inside for lunch or dinner, or snag a spot on the patio when the weather’s nice. Top picks on the menu include the Yankee fish sandwich ($10.99), lobster mac and cheese ($13.99), and clam chowder ($4.24-$7.99), which pair well with a Harpoon IPA from the nearby New England brewery. –LN
Pearl Oyster Bar, New York
The Roll: A classic Manhattan lobster roll (market price), Pearl’s comes filled with chopped lobster on a toasted bun, enveloped in a mountain of shoestring fries.
The Restaurant: Pearl Oyster Bar opened in 1997 as a twenty seat seafood counter. Owner-chef Rebecca Charles explains that when she first opened the bar, “there wasn’t a lobster roll to be found in Manhattan.” This Greenwich Village seafood spot is homey and comforting, and after you finish the lobster roll, order the blueberry pie for dessert to top it off. If your trip to Pearl has left you daydreaming for more, you can always order the cookbook with recipes and reminiscent stories about summers in Maine. —LZ
Do you have a favorite lobster roll? Tell us where we can get it!