Having worked in kitchens at two of New York’s well-known lobster roll joints — Pearl and Ed’s — I’ve tasted a fair number of rolls. Those experiences inspired an ongoing quest to determine who has New York’s best. While I’m rarely shy about sharing opinions (my top five: Pearl, Red Hook, Luke’s, Mary’s, Ed’s), anytime I’ve been asked about favorites, there was a caveat I hated to have to add: “I’ve never been to Maine.” After a weekend eating lobster rolls in Maine that's no longer the case.
Disclaimer. Driving backroads, talking to locals and tourists, and visiting just ten shacks, you quickly understand how many more places you should visit before making declarations about the state’s best. Skim the surface of any internet conversation about the best lobster rolls in Maine and the crossfire is enough to make you dizzy. Notable misses on this trip include: The Portland Lobster Company, The Lobster Shack at Two Lights, Joe’s Boathouse, Bob’s Clam Hut, Mabel’s Lobster Claw… the list goes on.
Having conceded that a definitive quest for Maine’s best will have to take a second trip, and considering that almost every one of the following ten rolls is better than anything you’ll find anywhere else in the country, here’s a ranking of 10 well-known Maine lobster rolls, ranked in my order of preference, from last to first. The places included aren't exactly secrets (we learned about them from lobster roll coverage on Roadfood.com and in Travel + Leisure), but if you know Down East lobster shacks, you might be surprised by how high I've rated some sleepers on this list.
There's a full list of the restaurants below, but for photos, interesting details, and other notable dishes worth seeking out the next time you’re visiting, you'll want to check out the full slideshow.