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For a sandwich that seems so basic, individual preferences seem to be a major factor in what defines a “real” Maine lobster roll. Most agree on the basics: a New England split-top bun, griddled in butter until golden brown, then stuffed to overflowing with succulent, sweet, freshly-caught Maine lobster. After that, things get a little trickier.
I think the separation between “good” and “great” lobster rolls is trickier to pin down. The best lobster rolls aren’t just expensive, bready channels full of lobster meat, made to shovel into the mouths of visitors. The best lobster rolls are a careful balance of texture and temperature. During my time in Maine, my husband Gregg and I were on a mission to find the best lobster roll. Here are the top 5 places (in no particular order) for the best lobster rolls in Southern Maine:
Fisherman’s Grill, Portland, Maine
Fisherman’s Grill is not a regular stop on the Lobster Roll Tourist Trail, but it may be one of the best lobster rolls in Portland. (Pictured above is a gluten-free roll…lobster meat minus the bun; Cover photos is also Fisherman’s Grill lobster roll.)
Fisherman’s Grill, 849 Forest Ave, Portland
Lobster Shack, Ogunquit
The Lobster Shack does exactly what you expect it to do: provide a great lobster roll. Giving you a choice of 1/4, 1/3, 3/4, and one-pound of lobster meat, you can get the lobster tossed with mayo, butter, or plain. Sweet and juicy, the lobster meat is fresh and delicious, served on a toasted bun with cole slaw and chips.
This place is known for their lobster rolls – award winning and featured in Food Network Magazine. Packed with succulent rich Maine lobster from the tail and claws this baby had the perfect ratio of mayonnaise to meat.
Alisson’s Restaurant, 11 Dock Square, Kennebunkport
The Clam Shack
Sopping-wet with drawn butter and a lightly-toasted bun with a squeeze of lemon. I’d go back to Kennebunkport for many reasons, but this roll tops the list.
The Clam Shack, 2 Western Ave, Kennebunkport
J’s Oyster, Portland
Sure, it’s touristy, but the tourists are there for all the right reasons: J’s is located right on the wharf, is no-frills, has a huge bar, a wide selection of oysters, and world-class lobster rolls.
J’s Oyster, 5 Portland Pier, Portland
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I'm an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach and Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT-200), offering guidance to high achievers in aligning their lifestyle with well-being through daily wellness and self-care routines, promoting balance and harmony. Join me at Wellness Bum for tips on living well, and consider subscribing to my newsletter or booking a coaching session.