Where to Eat Great Lobster Rolls from Coast to Coast

Lobster rolls are seaside paradise in sandwich form — but you don't need to be on the water to enjoy a great one. Here are some of the nation's most-impressive options.

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Lobster Roll Road Trip

Nothing says summer quite like a lobster roll. It’s a seaside paradise in sandwich form. From coast to coast, we’ve chosen some of the nation’s most-impressive options. So wherever you find yourself journeying to this summer, here’s hoping you get your hands around one of these beauties.

New London, Conn.: Captain Scott's Lobster Dock

When it comes to lobster, you’ll find they do things a bit differently in Connecticut. This state’s claim to fame is not a traditional cold lobster-salad sandwich, but a hot buttered lobster roll like the one you’ll find at Captain Scott’s Lobster Dock, a quaint fish market and lobster shack on Shaw’s Cove in New London. Named for Captain Thomas A. Scott, who arrived in New London in 1871 to build the Race Rock Lighthouse, the restaurant’s signature lobster roll comes on a toasted split bun, full of hot, buttery pieces of lobster meat, topped off simply with sliced lemon. Grab a picnic table and a view of the water, and you’ll need little else.

Portsmouth, N.H.: The Beach Plum

Set on the salty seacoast of New Hampshire, The Beach Plum has been serving overstuffed lobster rolls since 1992. In the dog days of summer, locals line up for the sandwiches, which come in three sizes — six, eight and 10 ounces, which you can choose according to your own personal lobster-eating capacity. You won’t find celery, lettuce, tomato or anything other than just a touch of mayo to hold the hard-shell lobster meat together. It's served on a roll that’s fresh off the griddle but sometimes can’t contain the mile-high pile of lobster, so mind your swimsuit; this one’s as good as it is messy.

Atlanta, Ga.: The Optimist

Come lunchtime at Atlanta Westside hot spot The Optimist Fish Camp and Oyster Bar, you’ll probably find chef-owner Ford Fry and executive chef Adam Evans butter-poaching Maine lobsters to order. The sweet, succulent meat is then dressed with mayo, chives and a squeeze of lemon, overstuffed in split-top buns and served alongside housemade shoestring fries. It’s a sandwich that’s authentic and transporting, like putting your ear to a seashell; you can practically hear the waves crashing.
Photo by Emily Schultz

Ogunquit, Maine: MC Perkins Cove

Perkins Cove in Ogunquit, Maine, is that idyllic New England coastal town: the windy shoreline, the ocean at your feet, the caw of the gulls, the rhythmic bell of the lighthouse, the bracingly fresh salty air. All of it is served at MC Perkins Cove, where the names of farm-to-table chefs Mark Gaier and Clark Frasier are practically synonymous with their lobster roll. Their classic take is made with housemade mayonnaise, fresh lemon juice, butter, locally caught lobster and seasonal herbs like fennel top, Italian parsley, chives and tarragon. Watch out for those seagulls, though. They like a good sandwich too!
Photo by Patrick McNamara

Chicago: GT Fish & Oyster

At this acclaimed American seafood house in Chicago, chef Chef Giuseppe Tentori dresses lobster meat with a housemade special herb mayo, celery and lemon juice. It’s all served in a Labriola roll that has been buttered and grilled and comes with a heap of fried onion sticks. Tentori sources his lobster from the Maine Lobster Exchange out of Falmouth, Maine, and serves an entire pound of lobster meat in each sandwich. Bring your appetite.

Los Angeles: Hinoki & the Bird

If you’re eating at Hinoki & the Bird in LA, chances are you’re ordering the lobster roll and people may be staring at you. Well, yes, you are gorgeous, but it's also because of the bun. Hinoki’s Green Curry Lobster Roll comes with Thai basil blossoms on a bun made with 20 percent Japanese charcoal powder, which turns the soft brioche the color of a ripe avocado’s skin. It’s actually quite a nice contrast to the lobster itself. The lobster is seasoned with a Vietnamese green curry aioli, so it’s making its own statement. It’s paparazzi material.

San Francisco: Le Marais Bistro’s Croissanter Roll

Lobster rolls and French bistros are not exactly synonymous. But out on the Left Coast, anything goes. In San Francisco, Le Marais Bistro chef Max Snyder likes to shake things up, which explains the unlikely and beautiful marriage between lobster salad and a housemade croissant. Snyder uses spiny lobster (in season), which he dresses in his own mayo made with chile-flake-infused oil. The salad gets tucked into a croissant with a crunchy, lemony salad of napa cabbage. Fingerling potato chips and a salad of wild greens accompany what has become known as the Croissanter.

Wiscassett, Maine: The Sea Basket

Drive up the coast of Maine and you’ll practically run into the Sea Basket, a seaside favorite for fried scallops, haddock sandwiches and, of course, lobster rolls. Owner Jimmy Asprogiannis gives his a slight twist with his roll — a toasted and buttered six-inch sub — but otherwise stays true to the less-is-more credo. You’ll find that sub stocked with Maine lobster meat caught daily right off of Booth Bay Harbor, and a bit of mayo, not much else. It’s a favorite for a reason.

Brooklyn: Greenpoint Fish & Lobster Co.

When your family’s been in the wholesale fish business for more than a century, you learn a thing or two about quality seafood. That goes a long way toward explaining the first-rate lobster roll at Brooklyn’s Greenpoint Fish & Lobster, owned by fifth-generation fishmonger Vinny Milburn (of the Boston-based John Nagle Co.). Milburn gets his Maine lobsters from the best sources at the Brooklyn Navy Yard every morning. Then he turns them over to Chef Adam Geringer-Dunn, who steams them, handpicks the meat, and tosses it with lemon juice, Maldon sea salt, minced celery, tarragon and a drop of mayo before piling it all into a toasted New England-style hot dog bun.

Charleston, S.C.: The Ordinary

James Beard Award-winning chef Mike Lata’s Southern seafood hall and oyster bar, The Ordinary, has a lobster roll tasty enough to crawl its way to the top of your list. Lata sources fish from a long-standing network of local fisherman, clammers and oystermen to showcase the "merroir" of the sea (akin to the terroir of soil) and how coastal waters influence the ingredients. His lobster roll features a generous half pound of lobster meat fresh off a Maine boat, paired with a zingy mayo dressing of Tabasco, lemon, celery, garlic, mustard, chives, shallot and a sprinkle of Old Bay.

New York: Khe-Yo

If you like things a little bit twisted, you’ll want to get your hands on the Bang-Bang Butter Poached Lobster Banh Mi at New York’s terrific Laotian restaurant Khe-Yo. The fiery sandwich (we warn you there’s serious heat here, friends) originally started as a special one-year-anniversary menu item, but it was received so well that Khe-Yo decided to keep it on the menu. Chef Soulayphet Schwader takes an entire lobster’s worth of meat and poaches it in a mix of butter and Khe-Yo’s signature “bang bang” hot sauce. It’s piled into a crusty French roll with watercress, cilantro and Old Bay. Twisted never tasted so good.