10 Essential Lobster Rolls in Northeast USA

By gourmetpigs on July 10th, 2015

The lobster roll was likely born in 1927 at Perry's Restaurant in Milford, Connecticut. Record has it a customer asked owner Harry Perry to serve his lobster meat off the shell, dressed in butter and placed in a bun. There are two main styles of lobster roll. The first and simplest is the Connecticut style: lobster meat, bun, butter and lemon – that’s it. The Maine style consists of lobster meat on a bun with butter, lemon, mayonnaise and Old Bay seasoning. The bun used should be similar to a hot dog bun, buttered and toasted or griddled.

The past two summers, I traveled the northeastern coast to Maine and Connecticut in search of the best lobster roll. Here is what I found:




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1. Seven Seas Restaurant

The original home of the lobster roll, Perry’s Restaurant, has long since shuttered. But you can get close with Seven Seas Restaurant, another old-timer in Milford, Conn. Seven Seas is a mainstay in Milford, which was opened in 1965. Their lobster roll recipe, though, dates to a previous restaurant owned by the owner’s grandfather. While the lobster roll here was not the best I’ve tried, it’s a good representation of a classic. It doesn’t hurt that the fries it comes with are great.



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2. Lobster Landing

This small wharf next to the residential area gets its fair share of tourists with cameras, even if its remote location doesn’t draw a large crowd. That’s because of the old, rustic lobster shack. The current owners have run Lobster Landing for more than 20 years, but the building is more than a century old, adding to its charm.


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The shack’s small menu is typical of what you’ll find in these Connecticut lobster shacks: there are lobster rolls, and there are hot dogs and ice cream. The lobster is lightly drizzled in butter and served in a long, nicely toasted hot dog bun. The bun here is better than most.   



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3. Abbott’s Lobster In The Rough

My pick for the best lobster roll in Connecticut, their lobster is served on a sesame slider bun instead of the traditional hot dog bun. While it’s smaller than its counterparts and the bun could be toasted a bit more, the lobster meat and the combination as a whole packs more flavor than the others. This is so good that size doesn't matter; just order two rolls or go straight for the jumbo! Since its opening in 1947, this restaurant has frequently been named as having the Best HotLobster Roll or Best Lobster Roll in Connecticut. This large restaurant is always crowded, so be prepared to wait a bit.



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4. Captain Scott's Lobster Dock

A dock with views of the water near an industrial complex provides the iconic setting for this fresh lobster shack. Their lobster roll is one of the best due to their commitment of using only fresh, live lobsters. The bun is nicely griddled and the fresh lobster meat is tossed in just the right amount of butter.



Connecticut may have invented the lobster roll, but Maine is appropriately known as having the best fresh lobster around, so it is only fitting that a road trip through Maine’s lobster shacks is a popular summer activity. There are many lobster shacks along the coast of Maine, many of which are worth stopping by.



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5. Red's Eats

Red’s Eats may well be the most popular shack in Maine, largely due to the sheer amount of lobster it serves. Overflowing with meat from a whole lobster and more, lobster rolls at Red’s Eats are a sight to behold with the bun hiding beneath a pile of lobster meat. They serve the butter on the side but, in my opinion, the bun is a bit lacking. Still, it is a great roll and a can’t-miss Maine experience, but look at the next entry for the best lobster roll in Maine.



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6. Bite Into Maine

This food truck is a newcomer, relatively speaking, yet it’s been making waves and has my vote of the best of the classical style lobster roll. They use a perfectly toasted bun, fresh and succulent lobster meat (not overflowing, just enough) and Cabot butter. While many of Maine’s lobster shacks have equally amazing lobster meat, Bite Into Maine distinguishes itself by also using the best bun. Eat the Connecticut style lobster roll here for the best classic lobster roll experience. The truck is parked at the park near the Portland Lighthouse.



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7. Eventide Oyster

As one of the more hip eateries in Portland, Eventide offers a non-traditional lobster roll using a soft Chinese bao shaped into a bun. The lobster preparation is also non-traditional: you can get either brown butter or a ginger scallion dressing. Whether or not you prefer this bun compared to a classic bun, the brown butter works wonderfully with the warm, soft bun.



As New England’s biggest metropolitan city, Boston takes the classic lobster roll and turns it up a notch with gourmet touches. It may be the bun, or perhaps a touch of sea salt, but the best restaurants in Boston are all taking a gander at this New England classic.



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8. Neptune Oyster

Neptune Oyster serves one of the most popular lobster rolls in the city, thanks to its decadent, buttery brioche bun overflowing with buttered lobster meat. The lobster meat is fresh and succulent, and they don’t skimp on the meat or the butter. This lobster roll is the richest of the lot, but you won’t regret indulging in one.



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9. Row 34

Similar to Neptune’s, Row 34 also uses a brioche bun. A less decadent version, Row 34’s lobster roll consists of a smaller brioche roll, griddled and buttered with lobster chunks tossed in melted butter. A touch of sea salt makes it special. It is not as rich as Neptune’s, but the roll/bun holds up better. They do a cold lobster roll,again putting a spin on it with dill pickles and mixing crème fraiche with the mayonnaise.



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10. B&G Oyster

This seafood-focused joint from Barbara Lynch, Boston’s most famous restaurateur, will naturally serve a great lobster roll. Here they offer a Maine-style roll, but dressed sparingly with mayonnaise made in-house. The lobster is mixed only with celery, salt and cracked pepper.

Meet the author


Born and raised in Surabaya, Indonesia, Fiona Chandra says her earliest food memory is of pork satay grilling in the backyard. “We used an old tiny charcoal grill where we had to squat on the ground fanning the satay,” she recalls. Fiona says her family has always been passionate about food. ”I remember driving with my dad an hour or two out of town just to get a sort of tofu omelet.” When she was 15, riots in Indonesia prompt…... More