Ah, the lobster roll: a staple summer food in New England, albeit one that Maine residents think is all theirs to enjoy and market to tourists. While we won’t deny Vacationland its greatness when it comes to one of its signature dishes, the simple fact is that Massachusetts also offers a great variety of top-notch destinations for the ultimate taste of the season. Here are 20 of the many lobster rolls in the state.
Belle Isle Seafood
When Anthony Bourdain visited Boston in 2011 for his former Travel Channel show, “No Reservations,’’ one of the first stops the TV personality made was at Belle Isle Seafood, which has been lauded for its lobster roll, considered by many the best in the area. The Phantom Gourmet called the roll “ultra-affordable’’ ($20.99) and also described it as “loaded with succulent meat.’’ The no-frills atmosphere keeps the focus on the seafood, not the surroundings, and that has resulted in a lobster roll that remains a local favorite. 1 S. Main St., Winthrop, 617-567-1619, www.belleisleseafood.com
The Bayside Restaurant
It’s difficult to have a better location than Bayside, located minutes from Horseneck Beach with a deck that overlooks Allen’s Pond and Buzzard’s Bay. The lobster roll here is served “naked’’ with your choice of mayonnaise or butter on the side so that diners can choose how much of either they prefer without having the taste of the lobster drowning in condiments, one of the setbacks of many lobster rolls. The Bayside is a perfect way to enjoy one as the sun sets on one of summer’s lingering days. 1253 Horseneck Road, Westport, 508-636-5882, thebaysiderestaurant.com
Neptune Oyster House
Look at that thing. Another lobster roll that many consider the best in Boston, Neptune Oyster House’s creation is a mouth-watering option ($25) that is served with butter if ordered hot, mayonnaise if ordered cold. It’s also available sans roll (but where is the fun in that?) and served with fries. Excuse the cliché, but if a picture says a thousand words, you’re likely drooling on your keyboard right about now. 63 Salem St., Boston, 617-742-3474, www.neptuneoyster.com
Arnold’s Lobster and Clam Bar
Food and Wine Magazine has called Arnold’s clams “the best fried clams in the world,’’ and it’s a claim that’s hard to disagree with. Any time of day you can expect a line out the door at this popular Eastham stop along Route 6, where fried clams, onion rings, and lobster rolls are served by the hundreds daily. The Arnold’s lobster roll comes either warm (buttered) or cold (lightly covered in mayonnaise on a bed of lettuce), and comes in two sizes, regular ($15.99 cold, $16.99 warm) and jumbo ($23.99 cold, $24.99 warm) with double the lobster meat and served with, what else, Cape Cod potato chips. 3580 State Highway 6, Eastham, 508-255-2575, www.arnoldsrestaurant.com
With locations in Westford, Lancaster, Carlisle, and Jaffrey, N.H., Kimball Farm has long been a popular destination for homemade ice cream, but its outdoor grill and seafood shack holds its own with an extensive menu, including seafood favorites like clam strips, haddock, and salads topped with lobster. Kimball’s lobster roll ($17.95) is served with watermelon, fresh from the farm, and a side of either chips or coleslaw. For dessert, how does one of 40 different ice cream flavors hit you? Pretty well, we imagine. 400 Littleton Road, Westford, 978-952-8100; 1543 Lunenburg Road, Lancaster, 978-534-9800; 343 Bedford Road, Carlisle, 978-369-1910, www.kimballfarm.com
Odds are that a place in Sandwich is going to make a good lobster roll, and that is indeed the case at Captain Scott’s – a casual seafood shack that sits on Tupper Road, a quick diversion from the hustle and bustle of Route 6. The lobster roll ($16.95) is served with fries, and is accompanied on the menu by a scallop roll, whole belly clam roll, and a clam strip roll. It’s certainly a good excuse to get out of traffic. 71 Tupper Road, Sandwich, 508-888-1675, captainscotts.com
James Hook and Co.
The rolls at this waterfront spot don’t come with frills (or fries). But at a mere $14 for a hot-dog bun overflowing with lobster mixed with just enough celery and mayo, they’re a bargain. Want one delivered to your door? James Hook does all sort of mail orders. You’re welcome, West Coast transplants. 15-17 Northern Ave., Boston, 617-423-5501, www.jameshooklobster.com
Island Creek Oyster Bar
This lobster roll is as fresh as it gets. “Ethel’s lobster roll’’ ($25) is served at this Kenmore Square favorite on a rosemary roll with chips and cole slaw. It’s not exactly your classic New England lobster roll, but variety was never a bad thing. 500 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, 617-532-5300, islandcreekoysterbar.com
Hingham Lobster Pound
The unassuming nature of this Hingham shack barely speaks to the deliciousness inside. Don’t expect fancy digs. Heck, don’t expect a dining room. The Hingham Lobster Pound essentially boasts a small waiting area where you can hang out until your order is done. The menu, of course, features lots of lobster, including a lobster roll ($11.99 for a quarter-pound, $15.99 for a third of a pound) that is served on a Pepperidge Farm hamburger roll in lieu of the traditional hot dog bun and just enough mayonnaise to keep things moist without overpowering the natural taste of the lobster. 4 Broad Cove Road, Hingham, 781-749-1984, www.hinghamlobster.com
The biggest selling point to the Beachcomber is its real estate, high atop Cahoon Hollow, so the place could probably get away with serving sub-par fare. That’s not the case though at this beach bar, where the lobster roll (market price) is a perfect way to grab lunch while sunning in the rays at the beach. Parking is drastically limited, and will run you $20 (10 a.m. – 4 p.m.). But park in the Beachcomber lot, as opposed to the Wellfleet town lot at the front of the building, and you’ll receive a voucher good toward your purchase of food and drinks. Good deal. Good meal. 1120 Cahoon Hollow Road, Wellfleet, 508-349-6055, www.thebeachcomber.com
The Lobster Stop
Because one may not exactly be enough, the Lobster Stop offers diners the option of making their lobster roll a double ($19.99). The single version ($10.95) is also served with chips and a pickle. The Lobster Stop’s biggest selling point is its simplicity. But when it comes to choosing between one or two rolls, things can indeed become complicated. 723 Washington St., Quincy, 617-405-4760, thelobsterstop.net
Snug Harbor Fish Company
This Duxbury locale prides itself on fresh and local, with an extensive menu of seafood fare in addition to soups, stuffed quahogs, and local oysters. Enjoy its lobster roll (“priced with the tide’’) just a stone’s throw away from Duxbury Bay. Not a bad way to spend a summer afternoon on the South Shore. 459 Washington St., Duxbury, 781-934-8167, www.snugharborfishcompany.com
Roy Moore Lobster Co.
A lobster shack in the grandest sense of the word, Roy Moore Lobster Co. has delighted Rockport visitors with its fresh offerings including a lobster roll ($15) that can sometimes be a tough sell considering the deal on lobsters — three for $25. Whatever you order, you’re welcome to enjoy it outside on a deck overlooking Sandy Bay. 39 Bearskin Neck, Rockport, 978-546-6696, www.facebook.com/Roy-Moore-Lobster-Co
Chef Barbara Lynch has put a modern twist on the oyster bar, and as it turns out the lobster roll as well. Her version is a BLT with lobster ($29) that can only be enhanced with a side of littlenecks or cherrystones. If you’re too much of a traditionalist, there is a regular version of a lobster roll also available ($29) served with french fries and butter pickles. 550 Tremont St., Boston, 617-423-0550, bandgoysters.com
There’s a lot to like at this New Seabury destination, where the lobster roll ($25.95) at The Raw Bar and Bob’s Seafood Café and Wine Bar was named the No. 1 in New England by TV Diner’s Billy Costa. “All meat, no fillers. They’re huge,’’ reads the menu. Fries with that will cost you $3 more. 12 Mallway, New Seabury, 508-477-8300, popponessetmarketplace.com
City Landing’s take on the lobster roll turns it into a slider, served on Portuguese bread ($15). This top-notch place often makes the list of best lobster rolls in the city. The chef spent 10 years at Wequasset, a seaside Cape resort, and knows a thing or two about seafood. Good things can come in small packages.
255 State St., Boston, 617-725-0305, www.citylanding.com
Menemsha Fish Market
Larsen’s Fish Market gets much of the attention in Menemsha, which means lines are often out the door. That’s why Menemsha Fish Market is so attractive, as it sits right next door with far less of a crowd forcing its way in the door. This lobster is about as fresh as you can get on Martha’s Vineyard, and the lobster roll ($11.99) is careful not to overpower with too much mayonnaise. The perfect way to spend lunch on the island. 54 Basin Road, Chillmark, Martha’s Vineyard, 508-645-2282, www.menemshafishmarket.net
Mac’s Seafood is a staple on Cape Cod for its fish markets, but the restaurants also bring people back for more, including two distinct lobster rolls at both of its dining locations. At Mac’s Shack, the roll is served with celery, red onion, and lemon aioli ($21). Down the road at Mac’s on the Pier, diners can choose between a lobster salad roll ($13.99) or a lazy man’s lobster roll ($23.99) with 5 ounces of lobster meat, sautéed in butter, and served on a roll over fries. 91 and 265 Commercial St., Wellfleet, 508-349-6333, www.macsseafood.com
The view at the Lobster Pool is about as good as you’re going to get in New England, which is why thousands flock to Rockport each summer to enjoy lobster under the evening sky and watch the sunset. The lobster roll here includes fries or onion rings. 329 Granite St., Rockport, 978-546-7808, www.lobsterpoolrestaurant.com
Alive and Kicking Lobsters
Recently named the 2014 Best Lobster Roll in Boston Magazine’s Best of Boston, the Alive and Kicking lobster roll isn’t technically a roll. This succulent creation ($16) is actually a sandwich, with buttered and toasted sesame-crusted scali bread piled high with simply-dressed lobster meat tossed with black pepper and light mayo. Served with a side of chips.
269 Putnam Ave Cambridge. 617-876-0451. aliveandkickinglobsters.com
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