The Best Lobster Rolls in Maine – Locals Share Their Top 6 Picks
The Best Lobster Rolls in Maine - Locals Share Their Top 6 Picks - Fresh Lobster is Key to a Great Roll
When it comes to lobster rolls, there's nothing more important than fresh lobster meat. The sweet, succulent taste of just-caught lobster is what makes these rolls so delicious. That's why locals know that the very best lobster rolls in Maine are made with the freshest lobsters possible.
As a born and bred Mainer, I grew up understanding that lobster needs to go from trap to table as swiftly as possible. Once removed from the ocean, lobsters are still alive but they start to decline in quality quickly. That's why the lobster shacks with their own fishing boats or direct relationships with local lobstermen have a leg up. They can get those critters straight from the water to their kitchens in no time.
My personal favorite is Red's Eats in Wiscasset. They've been serving lobster since 1938 and have perfected the art of the lobster roll. Their secret is that they don't mess around with freezing or processing the meat. It's cooked fresh daily from live lobsters caught right off the Maine coast. You can seriously taste the difference in the sweetness and texture of the meat.
Another spot that takes freshness seriously is The Clam Shack in Kennebunkport. They pride themselves on their lobster rolls that are overflowing with chunks of fresh tail and claw meat. Their supply comes straight from local lobstermen, never pre-processed. The meat is gently cooked just minutes before being loaded into those buttery toasted buns. It melts in your mouth!
Up north in Bar Harbor, you'll find Trenton Bridge Lobster Pound drawing huge crowds for their stellar rolls. They operate their own lobster boats to supply their restaurant, so the meat is impeccably fresh. Locals and tourists alike keep coming back for rolls heaped with knuckles of sweet lobster fresh from the pounding surf.
Fresh lobster doesn't just taste better, it's better for you too. Pre-processed lobster meat tends to be pumped full of preservatives like sodium bisulfate. Fresh-cooked lobster is free of this chemical aftertaste. The natural flavor shines through.
Mark Tozier of Surf Point Lobster in Biddeford Pool stresses the importance of fresh lobster meat and local sourcing. As a lobsterman himself, he won't serve anything but the freshest lobster caught right off the Maine coast. He says frozen processed meat loses that signature Maine lobster essence.
Lobster health benefits are also maximized when it's fresh. Lobster is high in protein and low fat, and fresh meat retains more nutrients like B12, selenium, and zinc. Fresh tail meat is also loaded with astaxanthin, a natural antioxidant.
So when indulging in a authentic Maine lobster roll, you want it to be as fresh as possible. The lobster shacks with their own fishing boats or direct relationships with lobstermen are your best bet. Look for words like "fresh daily" or "straight from the traps." And don't be afraid to ask where and when the lobster was caught.
A perfect lobster roll starts with perfect lobster. And around here, that means fresh Maine lobster just hours removed from the pristine, cold waters of the Atlantic. Anything else is sacrilege. We Mainers are serious about our lobsters, and you should be too! Demand fresh, local lobster meat piled generously into a grilled, buttered bun. Accept nothing less, and your taste buds will thank you.
What else is in this post?
- The Best Lobster Rolls in Maine - Locals Share Their Top 6 Picks - Fresh Lobster is Key to a Great Roll
- The Best Lobster Rolls in Maine - Locals Share Their Top 6 Picks - Top Places for Lobster Rolls in Southern Maine
- The Best Lobster Rolls in Maine - Locals Share Their Top 6 Picks - Mid-Coast Favorites for Lobster Lovers
- The Best Lobster Rolls in Maine - Locals Share Their Top 6 Picks - Get Your Fill of Lobster Rolls in Acadia National Park Region
- The Best Lobster Rolls in Maine - Locals Share Their Top 6 Picks - Lobster Rolls with a View Along the Bold Coast
The Best Lobster Rolls in Maine - Locals Share Their Top 6 Picks - Top Places for Lobster Rolls in Southern Maine
Southern Maine is home to some of the state's most iconic and beloved lobster shacks. Nestled along the craggy coastline from Kittery to Portland, these seafood spots serve up fresh lobster straight from the Atlantic into pillowy rolls slathered with drawn butter. For the quintessential Maine summer experience, you can't beat grabbing a picnic table at one of these lobstering legends and digging into a freshly-steamed roll as the salty breeze comes in off the water.
One of my personal favorites is the Lobster Shack Restaurant at Two Lights in Cape Elizabeth. Just a 15 minute drive from downtown Portland, this charming eatery is perched on jagged cliffs overlooking the ocean. You can sit out on their waterview deck and soak in one of the best sunsets in Maine while cracking into a hot lobster roll overflowing with sweet meat. Their rolls are stuffed full of chunks of fresh Maine lobster, either chilled with a touch of mayo or warm with drawn butter. Get there early if you want to snag an outdoor picnic table at golden hour. Or grab your roll to go and watch the sunset from nearby Two Lights State Park.
In the heart of the Old Port in Portland, you'll find Gilbert's Chowder House dishing out lobster rolls made from fresh lobster caught daily by local fishermen. Their meat is lightly dressed with just a hint of mayo and celery to let the lobster flavor shine. It's all tucked into a grilled and buttered bun from a nearby bakery. GRAB a stool at their bustling counter or take it al fresco on their streetside patio. Pair it with a cup of their hearty chowder and you've got a quintessential Maine meal.
No list of top lobster shacks would be complete without the legendary Red's Eats in Wiscasset. This roadside stand has been serving epic lobster rolls since 1938. Locals and tourists alike flock here in droves, lured by rolls bursting with knuckles of sweet lobster fresh from the traps. Their secret lies in sourcing only the choicest picks of meat from each lobster to maximize flavor and texture. The meat is lightly dressed with mayo and seasoning before getting loaded into that iconic split-top bun. Don't skip their wicked good whoopie pies for dessert either! Expect long lines in summer, but locals say it's well worth the wait.
Just down the road in Edgecomb, you can chow down on a lobster roll from the back of a food truck! Wiscasset Bay Lobster food truck parks along Route 1 and serves rolls heaped with meat from lobsters caught fresh that morning. Their truck rolls up right to the shoreline of the Sheepscot River, so you can dine al fresco on picnic tables just steps from working lobster boats. It's about as authentic a Maine lobster shack experience as you can get from a truck!
In the Boothbay Harbor region, waterside eatery Shore Hills Campground can't be beat for lobster roll views. Sit on their open-air deck looking straight out over Linekin Bay and dig into a chilled lobster roll made with fresh meat from their own lobster boats. It's lightly dressed with mayo and celery to let the sweet lobster flavor pop. Time your meal for sunset and watch the colors over the bay while feasting on your roll.
No trip down the coast is complete without stopping at the Clam Shack in Kennebunkport. Made famous by visits from George H.W. Bush, this iconic roadside stand draws hordes of tourists but still maintains its charm. Their lobster rolls overflow with chunks of sweet meat from fresh lobsters sourced right in town. You can dine at their bustling picnic tables or grab your roll to go. Don't leave without snapping a selfie beneath their famed neon sign out front.
The Best Lobster Rolls in Maine - Locals Share Their Top 6 Picks - Mid-Coast Favorites for Lobster Lovers
The rocky coves and islands scattered along Maine's mid-coast harbor some of the state's sweetest, most succulent lobsters. This jagged shoreline spanning from Brunswick north to Belfast produces much of Maine's catch. Generations of local lobstermen work these fertile trawling grounds, supplying area eateries with impeccably fresh crustaceans straight from the traps.
For lobster lovers, this means the mid-coast is lobster roll nirvana. The seafood shacks dotted along Route 1 dish up rolls overflowing with meat still snapping fresh. Lobster so sweet it seems the critters just crawled onto the plate themselves. These lobstering legends source directly from their own boats or trusted local fishermen. The meat makes mere hours-long journeys from ocean to roll.
One such legend is the Dolphin Marina and Restaurant in Harpswell. This harborside eatery looks straight out over Potts Harbor, where weathered lobster boats bob in the waves. The Dolphin owns its own lobster boat and sources directly from local lobstermen. Their meat travels mere yards from trap to kitchen. They pile generous chunks into split-top rolls slathered with melted butter. Enjoy yours dockside as friendly seals pop their heads up begging for scraps.
Just up the road in Brunswick, you can't miss the neon lobster sign beckoning you into Fat Boy Drive-In. This roadside stand slings generous lobster rolls overflowing with sweet meat from Morning Glory Farm wharf just across the river. Their chilled rolls feature meat lightly dressed with mayo and celery. Or opt for the hot buttered version to let the lobster flavor shine through. Sit at their picnic tables and soak in breezes wafting across Maquoit Bay.
Further up the coast in Rockland, the Lobster Shack at Grille 19 offers stunning ocean views with your roll. Their outdoor deck overlooks Rockland Harbor while fishing boats chug in and out. The lobster boat Andrea's Girls supplies their meat, so you know it's just-trapped flavor. Hot rolls come dripping with butter while the chilled version features a light mayo dressing. Pair it with one of their Blueberry Caipirinhas for the quintessential Maine summer indulgence.
No mention of mid-coast lobster would be complete without the legendary Red's Eats. Made famous by driving routes like Downeast and Acadia All-American Roads, this iconic Wiscasset stand sees hour-long waits for their epic rolls in summer. Their secret? Sourcing only the sweetest knuckles and claws from each lobster, maximizing flavor and texture. The meat makes mere miles-long journeys from traps pulled right off Maine's coast. Red's splits their top-loaded rolls, grills the halves and slathers them with drawn butter. Perfection.
Just north up the Sheepscot River, Wiscasset Bay Lobster food truck parks riverside daily in season serving impossibly fresh rolls. Their namesake lobster boat supplies the meat, ensuring it's no more than a few hours post-trapping. The truck's location next to working wharfs and lobster boats completes the mid-coast experience. Grab a riverside picnic table and dig into meat dressed with light mayo and celery. Look across the water to see where your succulent seafood originated.
In Boothbay Harbor, locals swear by the lobster rolls at Boothbay Lobster Wharf. This rustic seafood shack sits right on the harbor, so close you can watch lobster boats unload their catch. Their rolls showcase meat from crustaceans landed mere yards away. Hot, buttered rolls let the natural sweetness of the meat star while chilled rolls feature a mayo dressing. Enjoy dockside on their waterside deck with stunning views over the harbor.
The Best Lobster Rolls in Maine - Locals Share Their Top 6 Picks - Get Your Fill of Lobster Rolls in Acadia National Park Region
As one of the top attractions in the Northeast, Acadia National Park lures visitors from around the world eager to experience its rugged beauty and flavors of Maine's coast. For many, no trip to Acadia is complete without indulging in an authentic Maine lobster roll or two. The park's proximity to Mount Desert Island's working harbors means you have access to impossibly fresh lobster just off the boat. Opportunities to chow down on sweet lobster meat abound both inside the park and in surrounding towns.
Within park boundaries, you have a couple excellent options for lobster rolls featuring just-trapped meat. At Jordan Pond House, dine on the scenic lawn overlooking the park's iconic lake. Their chilled lobster rolls deliver perfect texture contrast as the cool lobster salad meets the warm, buttered bun. The meat itself comes from nearby Trenton Bridge Lobster Pound, ensuring its freshness. Pair your roll with a cup of their famous popovers still steaming from the oven. Or grab a roll from their takeaway window to enjoy lakeside as Acadia's famous Bubbles rise from the water.
For a quick grab-and-go option within the park, hit up the Seawall Campground Cafe. This little open-air spot serves tasty lobster rolls featuring sweet meat direct from the traps of their provider. Grab one to munch cliffside as you take in sweeping ocean views at Seawall. Or devour it at nearby Bass Harbor Head Light, one of Acadia's most photographed landmarks. Bring some wet wipes though - these messy rolls are famous for getting butter and lobster juice everywhere!
Just outside the park, Beal's Lobster Pier in Southwest Harbor is an island institution. Family-owned for over 50 years, this waterside shack gets its lobsters directly from its own fleet plus other local boats. Their hot, buttered rolls highlight the natural succulence of the meat while chilled rolls feature a mayo dressing. Dine dockside on their waterside deck with spectacular harbor views as fishing boats unload the day's catch. Don't skip their addictive strawberry rhubarb pie for dessert either!
On the west side of Mount Desert Island, Trenton Bridge Lobster Pound has fed visitors to Acadia since 1952. Their secret? Owning their own lobster boats plus buying direct from area fishermen ensures only the sweetest, most tender meat makes it into their renowned rolls. Their location next to the Mount Desert Narrows bridge gives a front-row seat to watch fishing boats traversing the strait. On pleasant days, enjoy your roll at a picnic table with the lobster boats chugging by just steps away. A perfect taste of life Downeast!
No trip to this region is complete without a stop at the famous Thurston's Lobster Pound in Bernard. Made iconic thanks to its prominent spot on the official Acadia Byway map, this cash-only BYOB spot draws huge crowds. Their rolls highlight meat from lobsters landed at their own pier that very morning. Nothing says "authentic Maine" like cracking a cold one from a local brewery and digging into an overflowing lobster roll as the sun sets over Bass Harbor.
Can't get enough lobster on land? Book an offshore adventure with Lulu Lobster Boat Tours out of Bar Harbor. This small outfit takes a max of six people out on Casco Bay for a hands-on lobstering experience. Help haul traps teeming with crustaceans destined for their cafe's acclaimed rolls. Get up close and personal with these fascinating creatures before dining dockside on rolls made with the lobsters you helped catch. An immersive way to appreciate the origins of your food.
Of course, no discussion of lobster rolls in this region is complete without mentioning coastline icon Thurston's Lobster Pound in Bass Harbor. Made famous thanks to its prominent spot on Acadia's official byway map, this BYOB spot draws hordes willing to endure waits exceeding an hour. Their rolls overflow with sweet meat from lobsters landed that very morning at their own wharf. Enjoy yours waterside as the fleet comes in, and you've got a quintessential Maine experience.
The Best Lobster Rolls in Maine - Locals Share Their Top 6 Picks - Lobster Rolls with a View Along the Bold Coast
Stretching over 130 miles from Penobscot Bay to the Canadian border, Maine's Bold Coast showcases the state's rugged beauty at its finest. Dramatic cliffs, secluded beaches, pounding surf, and quaint fishing villages characterize this wild, windswept shoreline. For a quintessential Maine coastal experience, few regions compare.
And what better way to take in the Bold Coast's breathtaking scenery than indulging in an authentic Maine lobster roll? The working harbors nestled along this shore supply area eateries with the sweetest, most succulent lobster direct from the ocean. Local lobster shacks dish up rolls bursting with tender meat and killer views over the crashing waves. The perfect pairing of Maine's two icons: lobster and natural splendor.
One prime spot to savor both is the iconic Quoddy Bay Lobster in Eastport, the easternmost city in the United States. Perched on a rocky ledge overlooking Passamaquoddy Bay, their wrap-around deck offers panoramic vistas over the ocean and nearby Canada. Watch fishing boats ply the cobalt waters while feasting on lobster rolls featuring meat just hours removed from those very traps. Their proximity to local lobstermen ensures only the choicest picks make it into the split-top bun. The chilled meat mix bursts with sweet lobster essence, complemented by crunchy lettuce and just a kiss of mayo. For a hot and saucy version, opt for one drenched in warm butter that sends the flavor soaring. Enjoy with a local craft beer and you've got coastal indulgence perfection.
Just down Route 190 at Shackford Head State Park, you can take in dramatic cliffs plunging to the sea while housed in Picnic Maine's vintage Airstream food truck. Their lobster rolls star impeccably fresh meat from nearby wharfs, dressed with a smidge of mayonnaise, lemon juice, and celery. The cool lobster salad balances beautifully with the warmth of the grilled bun. Claim a picnic table atop the rugged headlands and let the Bold Coast's windswept beauty wash over you as you devour your roll. Look for seals sunning on the rocks below between bites.
On Campobello Island just across the border in Canada, Owen House Restaurant charms visitors with charm and killer lobster rolls. Their open-air deck looks straight out over Passamaquoddy Bay, where weathered fishing boats ply the waters against a backdrop of verdant islands. Their lobster boats supply impossibly fresh crustaceans that their chefs expertly boil, crack, and hand-pick for each roll. Hot rolls come dripping with drawn butter while chilled rolls feature a heavenly mix of lobster and mayo. Savor every sweet morsel as you soak in their sublime island views. Don't forget your passport!
Just up the coast, critically acclaimed Helen's Restaurant in Machias shows off the versatility of Maine lobster with rolls featuring inventive fusion twists. Situated right on the Machias River, their deck boasts serene views over the water and surrounding forests. Traditionalists can stick with their straightforward chilled lobster roll bursting with knuckles of tender meat lightly dressed in mayo. But adventurous eaters may opt for their decadent lobster reuben roll, with buttery lobster salad, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and thousand island dressing stacked on marble rye bread. Let the river breezes cut through the richness as you relish each delightful bite.
On the schoodic peninsula, casual seafood spot Flexit serves up lobster rolls with rustic dining room views over working Winter Harbor wharfs. Their lobster boat Endurance supplies impossibly fresh crustaceans that their chef hand-picks for each roll. The split-top bun overflows with chilled meat lightly dressed with mayo and lemon juice. For extra decadence, warm butter drizzles over the top letting the lobster essence shine. Enjoy with one of their Maine craft beers on tap as you watch fishermen unload their catch just feet away. It's an authentic taste of coastal life.
For the ultimate al fresco lobster experience on the Bold Coast, spread out a picnic blanket at dramatic Cutler Coast Public Reserved Land. As tides crash against sheer cliffs plunging to secluded coves, crack open a chilled lobster roll from nearby Bar Harbor Delights food truck in Machiasport. Their rolls burst with tender meat from lobsters landed that very morning at local wharfs. The light mayo and celery dressing lets sweet lobster flavor shine through. Bring some wet wipes for messy hands and prepare to get lost in the rugged beauty stretching endlessly before you. Let the sound of surf pounding rock harmonize with each satisfying bite.