In Search of The Classic Lobster Roll

As any adult can relate, cherishing vivid and unforgettable memories of childhood especially  those which were simultaneously hilarious and traumatizing depending on whose sharing the story.   My younger brother and I were approximately under ten years old when my Dad’s brother, Uncle Robert, generously delivered a gift to our home of two monster sized live lobsters for dinner.  Keep in mind, my brother and I had 1) never seen a live lobster and 2) never been in a kitchen to experience a live lobster being cooked.  Needless to say, the noise of steam escaping from the lobsters, after my Dad dropped them into the boiling water, in our young minds sounded as if the poor lobsters were screaming for their lives, trying to escape the hellish action that sealed their death. 

In the aftermath, my  brother, who had to be about 5 years old, couldn’t fathom the thought of eating the tortured lobster when it was ceremoniously placed on the dinner table and proceeded to hurl all over the dining room floor. 

To this day, I believe my  brother refuses to eat lobster  due to that incident and admittedly , not until long into my adult years that I found the nerves to finally give it another try and acquired an appreciation.   I am still not brave enough to cook a live lobster!

Incredibly, in colonial times, the lobster was so plentiful off the east coast; it was fed to pigs and goats and eaten by paupers and slaves prior to developing into a modern signature delicacy.     In fine dining kitchens across the country, chefs present the lobster in the most traditional way of boiling or steaming live lobsters and serving it on a platter for enjoyment with a side of butter.  Yet chefs have found other delightful ways of preparing lobster meat in appetizers and entrees that include bisques, risottos, salads, dips, and elevating pasta dishes such as macaroni and cheese and ravioli.

The reason lobster became my inspiration for this blog was the summer release schedule of a popular Detroit food truck, The Lobster Food Truck, which serves scrumptious Lobster Rolls sourced from Maine.   During the height of my traveling career, I was privy to eat Maine lobster rolls in Boston which were so heavenly and perhaps therapeutically cured me of my childhood experience!  That lobster roll was such an exquisite memory that I wanted to share  resources as the summer travel season heats up for tourists visiting  U.S. cities boasting the very best in lobster roll fare.

Lobsters are trapped mainly in the Atlantic Ocean on the eastern side of North America (US and Canada).  U.S. lobster fishermen use lobster pots to catch either soft shell lobsters (a molting process which is shedding of old shells to go through the re-growth process) or hard shell lobster that have a high meat content.  One other lobster that is eaten in the States is the Spiny Warm Water Lobster located in tropical climates such as Florida or the Caribbean Islands and unlike their northern cousins, don’t have claws and the meat is more tender and sweeter.

How a lobster roll is made, depending on the regional tastes, usually boils down to the simple process of broiling, steaming or grilling the lobster and either serving hot with melted butter or in a cold salad with a mayonnaise mixture dressed with herbs and seasonings to enhance the flavor of the lobster.  The lobster meat is served on sandwich bread ranging from toasted buttered hot dog buns, baked rolls, baguettes, pitas or even croissants.  The sandwich is traditionally served with a type of salad or soup and some variation of fries or homemade chips.

The question is who serves the best lobster rolls across the U.S.?   The northeast coast boasts the most and best restaurants all up and down the coast, yet there are several others that made food critics rankings: 

  1. Red Eats – Considered a dive located in Wiscasset,Maine but backs it up with long lines, celebrity spotting, wins numerous regional, state and national food awards for best lobster rolls
  2. Neptune Oyster – Popular, upscale oyster bar in Boston’s North End; rave reviews foodies for both the hot Connecticut style or the cold salad style Maine versions of the lobster roll
  3. Red Hook Lobster Pound  – food trucks and 2 restaurants located in New York City and Washington D.C.
  4. The Ordinary – Upscale seafood cuisine located in Charleston South Carolina
  5. Abbott’s Lobster in the Rough –   70 year old picturesque waterfront seafood restaurant in Groton, Connecticut
  6. Hinoki and the Bird – Los Angeles California Japenese eatery non traditional lobster roll served on a black Charcoal bun
  7. The Mare Oyster Bar – Upscale oyster bar in Boston Massachusetts that serves either a hot buttered or chilled mayonnaise version
  8. Lobster Landing – Another talk of the town establishment in Clinton Connecticut as  a waterfront shack that attracts foodie tourists from far and wide
  9. Acadia  –   Giving kudos to Detroit’s next door neighbor of Chicago with a Two Star Michelin Restaurant awarded as one of the best lobster roll offerings
  10. New England Lobster Market & Eatery  A named best west coast lobster roll destination in Burlingame, California offering 3 selections of rolls:  naked (with butter), dressed (mayo) and seasonal (topped with advacado and bacon).   

This list is by no means comprehensive, but moreso a compilation of the top recurring and foodie reviews.   -AJ

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Thank you for the educational and savory content:

The Lobster Food Truck –

Buzzfeed –

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Food Network –

Thrill List –

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Hat tip to contributing photographers from Pixabay and Unsplash



Skeeze  – live lobsters

John French – Trial and Error fishing boat

Bob Burkard – fishing pier


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