Who Serves the Best Lobster Rolls in New England?

Jeff O'Heir
·Editor
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Photo: Con Poulos/Offset

It doesn’t take much to make the perfect lobster roll

There’s no argument among seafood lovers that sweet, tender lobster meat piled high on a soft roll is the perfect complement to a summer day spent at one of New England’s historic villages, scenic ports, or picturesque beaches.

But from there, consensus turns to debate among lobster roll aficionados. Should the lobster be steamed to yield the tenderest meat and cooked only in seawater to preserve its true flavors? Served cold with a light dressing of mayo (Maine-style), or warm and bathed in melted butter (Connecticut-style)? More tail or more claw meat? Is placing the meat on anything but a buttered and grilled split-top New England-style hotdog roll sacrilege? 

If you have yet to form an opinion, we’ve worked with Yelp to create a list of the site’s highest rated and most reviewed shacks, restaurants, and food trucks that serve among the best lobster rolls in New England. The rankings below are based on Yelp reviews and ratings that mention “lobster roll,” combined with the restaurants overall stars, with 5 being the highest.

Most of these places stick to the basics of what makes a great lobster roll: lots of fresh, perfectly cooked meat picked from the tail, claws, and knuckles, combined with a little mayo or a little butter, and loaded onto a soft roll. You can debate the other subtleties of the sublime roll, but it’s hard to argue that each these spots serves up the true flavor of a perfect summer day.

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Bite Into Maine’s picnic-style lobster roll. Photo: Bite Into Maine

Maine

1. Bite Into Maine, Fort Williams Park,1000 Shore Road, Cape Elizabeth; 5 stars, 110 reviews
Bite Into Maine made our recent best food truck roundup, so it’s no surprise to find the New England favorite at the very top of this list. “Hands down the best lobster roll I tried,” writes Rob G. of New York, after comparing lobster rolls at six different spots in Maine during a recent trip. The truck serves up three types: Maine, with light mayo and fresh chives; Connecticut, with hot butter; or Picnic, with coleslaw, hot butter, celery salt, wasabi, curry, and chipotle. Stunning views of the historic Portland Head Light and Casco Bay round off the meal. “This place is the reason I go to Maine every summer,” writes Alexandra L. of Manhattan.

Yelp’s other top-rated lobster rolls in Maine:
2. Libby’s Market, 42 Jordan Avenue, Brunswick; 5 stars, 48 reviews
3. Fishermen’s Grill, 849 Forest Avenue, Portland; 4.5 stars, 319 reviews,
4. Shannon’s Unshelled, 11 Granary Way, Boothbay Harbor; 5 stars, 32 reviews
5. Eventide Oyster Co., 86 Middle Street, Portland; 4.5 stars, 258 reviews
6. Red’s Eats, 41 Water Street, Wiscasset; 4.5 stars, 296 reviews

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Neptune Oyster’s warm butter lobster roll. Photo: Hector M., Yelp

Massachusetts 

1. Neptune Oyster, 63 Salem Street, Boston; 4.5 stars, 1,599 reviews
Boston is home to 16 restaurants serving some of Yelp’s highest-ranked lobster rolls in Massachusetts. Yelpers say Neptune Oyster beats them all with its hefty cold mayo and hot butter offerings. These rolls must be good since Yelpers don’t mind shelling out $27 a pop or waiting several hours for a table (the staff will call your cell 10 minutes before your table is ready). “Words can’t describe the awesomeness of their lobster roll,” says Chris C. of Houston. Judith C. of San Mateo takes a stab it: “O - M - G. That lobster roll. THAT LOBSTER ROLL.”

Yelp’s other top-rated lobster rolls in Massachusetts:
2.Pauli’s, 65 Salem Street, Boston; 4.5 stars, 123 reviews
3. Row 34, 383 Congress Street, Boston; 4 stars, 73 reviews
4. Island Creek Oyster Bar, 500 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston; 4.5 stars, 253 reviews
5. The Canteen, 225 Commercial Street, Provincetown; 4.5 stars, 102 reviews
6. James Hook & Co., 440 Atlantic Avenue, Boston; 4 stars, 373 reviews

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Matunuck Oyster Bar serves up the classic cold lobster roll. Photo: Matunuck Oyster Bar, Facebook

Rhode Island

1. Matunuck Oyster Bar, 629 Succotash Road, South Kingstown; 4.5 stars, 85 reviews
Naming just one standout dish at Matunuck Oyster Bar should be a difficult task, given that the menu includes vegetables grown on the restaurant’s farm, oysters pulled from the pond next to it, and a variety of seafood caught in local waters. Yelpers, however, bestow the honor upon its classic roll of chilled meat that’s lightly dressed with mayo and chopped celery, and served on a grilled, buttery split-top roll. “Perfection! Not too much mayo or any other ingredient. Just lobster,” says Mikki K. of Philadelphia. Need more convincing? “The lobster roll is THE BEST I’ve ever had ANYWHERE in the WORLD,” says local Paul G.

Yelp’s other top-rated lobster rolls in Rhode Island:
2. Easton’s Beach Snack Bar, 75 Memorial Boulevard, Newport; 4.5 stars, 64 reviews
3. Anthony’s Seafood Restaurant, 963 Aquidneck Avenue, Middletown; 4.3 stars, 98 reviews
4. Marchetti’s Restaurant,1463 Park Avenue, Cranston; 3.5 stars, 23 reviews
5. Monahan’s Restaurant,190 Ocean Road, Narragansett; 4 stars, 18 reviews
6. Brick Alley Pub & Restaurant,140 Thames Street, Newport; 4 stars, 51 reviews

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Seeing double can be a very good thing. Beach Plum’s “foot-long.” Photo: The Beach Plum, Facebook

New Hampshire

1. Beach Plum, 2800 Lafayette Rd, Route 1, Portsmouth; 4 stars, 53 reviews
If you’re one of those vacationers who view New Hampshire primarily as a gateway to Maine, do yourself a favor: pull off the highway and head to the Beach Plum for one of its signature lobster rolls. They’ve earned a slew of “best of” awards for a good reason: the buttered, toasted rolls are overstuffed with fresh, tender meat dressed with just a touch of mayo. What else do you need? Sizes range from 6-, 8- and 10-ounce rolls, up to 12,16- and 20-ounce foot-longs. “THE most incredible, ridiculously large portion of lobster roll I have ever eaten!” writes MT of Port St. Lucy.

Yelp’s other top-rated lobster rolls in New Hampshire:
2. Little Red Schoolhouse, 1994 Daniel Webster Highway, Campton; 5 stars, 10 reviews
3. Sanders Fish Market, 367 Marcy Street, Portsmouth; 4.5 stars, 14 reviews
4. The Beach Plum, 17 Ocean Blvd, North Hampton; 4 stars, 68 reviews
5. Tuckaway Tavern and Butchery, 58 Route 27, Raymond; 4 stars, 14 reviews

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The Oyster Clubs adds a twist to its warm lobster roll with a sprinkling of crisp shallots. Photo: Jessica D., Yelp

Connecticut

1. Oyster Club, 13 Water Street, Mystic; 4.5 stars, 43 reviews
Oyster Club writes a daily menu, which doesn’t include the lobster roll. If you ask for one, though, the kitchen will probably deliver, depending on the season. The restaurant serves its version warm with apple butter and topped with crisp shallots. “Lobster rolls are buttery and delicious with some unusual ingredients to make it special,” says Scott S. of Holliston, Mass. “The flavors were so well coordinated,” writes Yelena A. of West Hartford. During the warmer months, head out back to the Tree House deck and enjoy that lobster roll next to the Mystic River.

2. Lobster Landing,152 Commerce Street, Clinton; 4.5 stars, 85 reviews
3. Lobster Shack, 7 Indian Neck Avenue, Branford; 4.5 stars, 62 reviews
4. Lobster Post, 222 Post Road, Fairfield; 4 stars, 34 reviews
5. The Lobster Hut, 826 Bridgeport Avenue, Milford; 5 stars, 15 reviews
6. Guilford Lobster Pound, 505 Old Whitfield Street, Guilford; 4.5 stars, 22 reviews

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