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Whether you’re sitting down to lunch with friends or grabbing one to go to enjoy by the seaside, there’s nothing that says New England more than fresh chunks of lobster nestled in a bun. The lobster roll is a regional delicacy here.
Many lobster roll restaurants said business has been busy this summer. Matt Gelly, owner of Raw Bar in Mashpee, said that for a while, lobster prices were high, too.
“Prices exploded around late June of last year and never came down all winter long; nothing was changing,” Gelly said. “They weren’t going any higher, but they weren’t coming down. That’s kind of how it went all the way until early June of this year, when they started to slowly drop.”
Because prices were so high, the restaurant decided to offer a smaller lobster roll for those wishing to spend less money and not indulge in a larger dish.
Boston.com readers told us about their favorite places to get a lobster roll, and Red’s Eats in Maine took the No. 1 honor with 8% of the vote, with Raw Bar coming in at No. 2.
Readers shared 160 different places in New England where the dish can be ordered, and we’ve included every recommendation in a map below. Scroll down to see the top five picks, as well as a complete list of the best lobster rolls in New England.
A 🏆 means that this spot was among the top 5 in 2021 and 2022. Restaurants are also marked for whether their lobster rolls are served 🦞 (hot) or 🧊 (cold).
Belle Isle Seafood, located in Winthrop, is a classic seafood shack with scenic harbor views. The spot serves a cold lobster roll, with just a dollop of mayonnaise, “just enough to hold it together,” owner Jim Costin said. Belle Isle’s version uses tail, knuckle, and claw meat from Maine hardshell lobsters. Served on a traditional, lightly buttered hot dog bun, Costin said that Belle Isle’s lobster roll stands out because of its simplicity — they don’t use celery or tomato, sometimes added for extra color. Taking 3% of the vote, Belle Isle is a standout. Reader Meg W. from Winthrop said: “From the buttered bun to the perfect blend of lobster meat to mayo, it’s perfection.”
1 Main St., Winthrop
The bustling oyster bar in the North End often draws a line for its raw bar and lobster rolls, earning 3% of the vote. Neptune Oyster uses a warm, toasted brioche roll for its lobster roll, and you can have yours either hot or cold. It comes accompanied by sea salt fries and can also be ordered without the bun. Alan S. from Newton said of the warm version of the fare: “Hot buttered heaven. One of my 10 favorite dishes in the world — and I travel a lot. Succulent, no accessories like mayo or celery needed; the lobster meat sings, and the roll hugs it, and this is the dish you wish you could eat every day.”
63 Salem St # 1, Boston
Customers come up to the walk-up window at Day’s in Maine, which has been open since the 1920s, and order a lobster roll to eat at the picnic tables outside. Kitchen manager Tracy Hanna said that the fresh lobster, picked every morning, makes the rolls so tasty. “The smaller the lobster you go, the sweeter the meat,” Hanna said. “The larger lobsters are tough and not as sweet, the two pounders and larger. Anything under a pound and a quarter is good, tender meat.” Day’s gathered 4% of the vote. Linda from Freeport, Maine said: “It is prepared the good old fashioned way — in a fresh hot dog roll with a tiny bit of mayo and a secret blend of spices.”
1269 US-1, Yarmouth, Maine
Raw Bar, located in Popponesset Marketplace in Mashpee, took 4% of the vote. The restaurant is a favorite among readers, serving up famous, “colossal” lobster rolls. Many customers share the dish, served on a split torpedo roll from a local bakery, and loaded with meat from Maine and Canada hard shell lobsters. They have a light layer of mayonnaise and can be enjoyed with a bit of lemon. “We have a crew of boys that shuck the lobsters and prepare the meat,” staff member Annie Murner said. “The lobster is very rich, and you can’t beat the flavor.” Reader Casey from Raynham said: “When it comes to their meaty lobster rolls, simplicity and size defines what all lobster roll purists seek and, The Raw Bar does not disappoint … Wash it all down with Narragansett for the perfect New England combo!”
259 Shore Drive, Mashpee
A line always forms outside this iconic, red shack in Maine. Red’s Eats, which took 8% of the vote, is a destination for many lobster lovers, and their cold rolls are piled high with fresh meat, with a whole, split tail to top it off. They come with a side of warm butter and mayonnaise, and you can taste the saltwater on the lobster. “Each roll has claws sticking out on both ends, the middle is filled with torn up (must not use a knife!) tails, knuckles and claws, and then the top is dressed with an entire tail,” owner Debbie Gagnon said in an email. “It’s fabulous!”
Reader Jameson from Winthrop said: “Normally, I don’t buy into the hype about a restaurant, ever, but this place is truly our favorite for lobster rolls! The hour wait to get to the window to order is unfortunate, to be sure, but the fact that you’re going to get something absolutely delicious more than makes up for any inconvenience. Yes, a lot of celebrities, real and imagined, want to have their photo taken at Red’s, but don’t be put off by that. … The melted butter that comes with it is clarified (thanks for the extra step!), and when you pour it over the sandwich, it becomes the most delicious piece of heaven you can imagine. It’s not cheap, but something this good never is. Also, there isn’t a gob of mayonnaise and unnecessary debris so that you can’t taste the lobster … Really is the taste of summer!”
41 Water St., Wiscasset, Maine
Sesuit Harbor Cafe: The lobster roll, which uses ample claw meat, comes served with lettuce, and fries and homemade coleslaw are on the side. The Cape Cod spot also has great scenic views, making the line worth it, readers say. 357 Sesuit Neck Road, Dennis
The Beach Plum: with locations around New Hampshire, these eateries makes different sized lobster rolls, on a toasted hot dog bun. You can get yours cold with mayo or try the hot sautéed lobster roll, with butter. 2800 Lafayette Road, Portsmouth, N.H.
A ⭐️ means that this shop was voted among the top 5 at some point over the past two years.
Some take theirs cold with mayonnaise. Others take theirs hot with melted butter.
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