America’s 20 Best Lobster Rolls Outside of Maine Slideshow
The lobster roll served at chef Mike Lata’s Charleston seafood mecca is slightly out of the ordinary, but still insanely delicious. Lobsters are brought in straight from Maine, and they’re given the royal treatment: a half-pound of lobster meat goes into each roll, mixed with a bright combination of mayo, Tabasco, lemon, mustard, garlic, celery, chives, shallots, and Old Bay.
The lobster roll served at Belle Isle, which recently moved into a huge new waterfront location on the Boston outskirts with plenty of sunlight and a bar, is nothing short of epic. You can barely see the bun beneath a gargantuan pile of tail, claw, and knuckle meat, and it’s adorned with some lettuce that’s not exactly necessary and not too much mayo.
Arguably the most visibly striking roll on our list, the lobster roll served at chef David Myers’ Hinoki & The Bird starts with a bun that’s been toasted with charcoal powder, giving it a jet-black appearance. To create the lobster salad, executive chef Kuniko Yagi mixes chunks of fresh lobster with a Vietnamese-style green curry aioli and wisps of fresh Thai basil. It’s gourmet to the max, sure, but it also happens to be downright delicious.
Dylan + Jeni
Chef Ford Fry is slowly taking over the Atlanta dining scene, with four restaurants in the city, but the lobster roll that’s served at his JCT Kitchen during lunchtime service on Fridays and Saturdays only is a true piece de resistance. It’s an entire lobster, cut up as minimally as possible, tossed with a little mayo and chives, served on a bun baked by the venerable restaurant Holeman & Finch. Served with a mound of fries and an apple slaw, it’s a true thing of beauty.
JCT Kitchen and Bar
When the chef spent his summers in Maine and made it his mission to replicate that experience as accurately as possible, you know you’re in for a treat. The lobster roll that chef Ryan McCaskey serves at the bar at his restaurant, Acadia, starts with split-top buns from the Maine-based Hannaford supermarket chain, topped with big chunks of fresh lobster that’s been tossed with chive mayo, then topped with paprika and a lemon squeeze. It’s nothing short of Chicago’s best lobster roll.
On an oak-shaded patio in Austin’s South Congress, you’ll find one of the best lobster rolls in America. Perla's chefs/owners Lawrence McGuire and Thomas Moorman Jr. ship in seafood from both coasts daily, and the lobster here comes from — where else? — Maine. The lobster is blanched before being tossed with a house-made lemon mayo and herbs, and then it’s placed into a homemade bun with some Bibb lettuce and served alongside drawn garlic butter.
flickr/ Kellie CA
To say that the lobster roll at Brick Alley is overstuffed would be an understatement. It’s absolutely brimming with fresh lobster meat, tossed with mayo and a secret seasoning mix that could be packaged and sold. It’s served with lettuce on a buttery bun alongside some slaw, a pickle, and steak fries, and after one bite you’ll know why this place has been one of Rhode Island’s most popular restaurants for more than 30 years.
At Oyster House, freshness and authenticity are key. Owner Sam Mink ships in fresh lobster from Maine daily, along with buns made by New England’s JJ Nissen. This means that the lobster in your roll was in Maine waters less than 24 hours ago, and these rolls, which contain about a third of a pound of meat, are treated with as much reverence as they deserve: warm rolls are topped with a citrus-kicked butter, cold ones are tossed with a little bit of mayo, diced celery, and a pinch of salt.
When it comes to seafood-eating views, it doesn’t get much better than this: The deck at The Bayside Restaurant looks right out over an Audubon wildlife sanctuary, Buzzards Bay, and the Elizabeth Islands. The lobster roll you’ll get here is world-class, too: each hot dog bun is topped with 5 ounces of straight lobster meat, no frills. All the accompaniments are served on the side: mayo, melted butter, and killer hand-cut fries.
Yelp/ Mike P
At Woodhouse, they let the lobster shine, and it sure is treated lovingly. Huge chunks of lobster meat adorn split-top buns that are custom-baked for the restaurant, and the lobster’s dressed with a little house-made mayo and a sprinkling of chives. And that’s it.
flickr/ neil conway
A Martha’s Vineyard mainstay, Offshore Ale Co. boasts a lobster roll to end all lobster rolls. Formerly an off-menu specialty, it was ordered so frequently that the owners decided to make it a permanent addition. This monstrous sandwich packs perfectly cooked, freshly shucked meat, tossed with just a little bit of mayo and a squirt of lemon, into a grilled split-top bun. When in Rome, do as the Romans do. And when in Martha’s Vineyard, eat a lobster roll at Offshore.
Facebook/ Offshore Ale Co
The name of this little shack nestled right on the water doesn’t lie: it’s parked literally right on a dock, and they even charter boats out front. The lobster roll at this cash-only, BYOB restaurant is as fresh as you’d expect: a buttered and grilled artisan split-top bun is lined with lettuce and absolutely loaded with lobster that’s been tossed with just the right amount of mayo. Bring a couple bottles of wine, camp out on a table overlooking the marina, and remember why summer is such a great time of year.
Yelp/ Vincent C
The lobster rolls served at Sam’s hit all the right notes: First, they’re gorgeous to look at, with massive chunks of super-fresh lobster dressed with just a little bit of drawn butter, fresh herbs, and celery, and tucked into a custom-baked bun. Second, the view from the deck out across the Pacific is second to none. Third, it’s about as New England an experience as you can get, but 3,000 miles away. With a menu that’s brimming with local seafood as well as specialties like cioppino, bacon-wrapped crabmeat-stuffed prawns, and a grilled rib-eye, it’s not just one of the best lobster rolls in the Bay Area, it’s one of the best restaurants in the Bay Area.
Sam's Chowder House
Located in Boston’s North End, Neptune's lobster roll can be served hot, utterly overflowing with big chunks of tail, claw, and knuckle meat mixed with a little clarified butter, served on a buttered and grilled bun. They also serve a cold lobster roll, but this is the one to get.
Owner Luke Holden’s father was a Maine lobsterman, and Luke’s 10 lobster shacks (and one truck) scattered throughout New York and the Washington, D.C. area are about as Maine as you can get. His lobster rolls start with toasted split-topped buns shipped from Maine, the claw and knuckle meat comes from Maine lobsters (they’re steamed, picked, and sealed airtight before being shipped south), and accompaniments have names like Maine Root soda and Gifford’s of Maine ice cream. The lobster rolls here are served with a little mayo inside the bun and butter drizzled on top, and it’s all brought together with a celery salt-heavy secret seasoning blend. Thankfully, they also ship.
At B&G Oysters, chef Barbara Lynch serves a world-class lobster roll, flawlessly prepared. Claw and tail meat is tossed with a little bit of mayo, diced celery, and chopped chives, and it’s served on an ideal bun. Every element of this lobster roll is made with a serious amount of care and precision, and it’s served a alongside a mound of tarragon-kicked fries.
World-class lobster rolls, in Minneapolis? Yep, they exist at Smack Shack, where there’s a massive custom-built tank that can hold up to 400 live lobsters at a time. The lobster rolls here get a slightly gourmet twist, but not so much as to obscure the true star of the show: huge chunks of meat are tossed with a little lemon mayo, some fresh tarragon, and diced cucumber, and tucked into a custom-baked roll from local bakery Salty Tart. This business used to be strictly truck-based (it’ll be featured on Cooking Channel’s Eat St. this summer), but has since expanded into a huge operation.
Since 1944, Champlin’s bas been serving astoundingly simple and delicious lobster rolls from their dockside restaurant. Lobsters come right off the day boat and into the sandwiches, which contain a heaping portion of claw, knuckle, and tail meat, tossed with a little celery and mayo, with a lettuce leaf separating meat from bun. Take a seat on the charmingly ramshackle deck overlooking the water, take in the sea air as you eat your roll, and buy a few live lobsters for dinner on your way out.
flickr/ brunosquad, michiey
The lobster rolls served at the Red Hook Lobster Pound, which has a brick-and-mortar location in New York and trucks prowling both D.C. and New York, start with split-top buns from Maine-based Country Kitchen. They’re topped with claw and knuckle meat from lobsters that are driven down from Maine weekly and kept alive until the last minute possible (you can also buy them live at the Red Hook flagship), and both styles are insanely delicious: Maine-style, served cold with a house-made lemon-spiked mayo, and Connecticut-style, drizzled with clarified butter. Red Hook Lobster was recently named the best food truck in America by The Daily Meal, and these are also among the best lobster rolls in America.
It may be hard to believe now, but as its website proclaims, in 1997 when Rebecca Charles opened her restaurant, Pearl Oyster Bar in New York’s West Village, "there was not a lobster roll to be found in Manhattan; their availability limited to New England vacation destinations and the odd Long Island fish shack." Whether others imitated her (read Mary’s and Ed’s) or were inspired by her success and the trend taking off, it’s hard to argue that chef Charles didn’t start, or at least help launch this humble (yet decadent) sandwich to national prominence. Charles’ own inspiration came from spending summers on Gooch’s Beach in Kennebunkport, Maine, and her idea was to elevate the region’s classic foods, "but still maintain its simple elegance." It has been a raging success. People still line up outside before the restaurant opens to get their favorite seat at the bar and watch Charles and crew send out turn after turn of glorious lobster rolls accompanied by Pearl’s standard shoestring fries. The top-loading rolls are beautifully butter-crisped in sauté pans, loaded with a tangy, light mayonnaise, and sent out with a scatter of chive and a lolla rossa lettuce bundle. The lobster is fresh, juicy, and tender, the portion generous, and the combination and balance is virtually impossible to beat anywhere outside of Maine. The perfect meal at Pearl? Salt-crusted shrimp, fried oysters, a cup of one of the East Coast’s best clam chowders, a lobster roll, and either the homemade blueberry pie or a sundae with either of the in-house made sauces (hot fudge or butterscotch parfait). It’s a classic meal insatiable cravings are created by.