Rockland, ME is considered to be the "Lobster Capital of the World" and the lobster roll from Claws definitely holds up to that esteemed title. With outside seating you're able to view Rockland's working waterfont, where more lobsters are harvested than anywhere else. After finding roadside parking I walked up to their shack on a somewhat busy road and looked over my ordering options. After reading such good reviews and being my first meal of the day, I decided to go with their big boy lobster roll. The “CLAW”SSOL is served on a foot long buttery toasted New England style roll and topped with a full pound of freshly picked lobster meat that is usually lightly tossed with Hellmann’s. I chose to get mine "flatlandah" style with hot butter instead of the more traditional light mayo that Maine rolls are known for.
The lobster meat was incredibly fresh and super tender with every bite. It was coated with just the right amount of hot butter as well and served with lemon wedges which I made sure to add into the mix. Since I went with the jumbo sized roll I was able to eat half and then kind of take a breather while I enjoyed the great views of the harbor, knowing that this amazing lobster I was enjoying had just come from those cold waters. The roll comes with chips & a pickle, but I added on a small order of their classic fries which were very good. Was hard to resist adding on a fresh blueberry lemonade to wash it all down with as well. This was at the time the best lobster roll that I had ever had and to this day has not yet been topped. Although some of the next few on this list have come very very close.
Standard Size Roll - 4 oz of meat for $19
“CLAW”SSOL - 1 lb of meat for $50
Small fries - $3
Blueberry lemonade - $3.95
Overall Score = 9.5
For over 80 years Red's Eats in Wiscasset has been serving fresh lobster rolls, and since 1954 has been doing so from a simple caboose like shack on the back of the tidal Sheepscot River right on busy Route 1. Routinely considered to be one of the best lobster rolls in Maine and the most famous of any for sure. Luckily traffic wasn't too bad as I approached Red's and was able to turn down a side road next the shack to find public parking at the end by the river. The line to order was predictably long so I took my place and began to wonder if this roll would live up to the hype. With the sun beating down on everyone waiting, an employee came down the line offering red & white umbrellas to anyone for temporary shade. When I finally got to the window I was greeted by the most friendly woman who excitedly asked me what I would like to order. After telling her this would be my 7th lobster roll in 5 days, she let every employee within earshot know of my quest for the best Maine roll.
After an hour wait in line my name was called and the I was shocked at the amount of lobster meat stuffed in the roll on my tray. There was so much of it that you couldn't see a single square inch of bun. I asked how much meat they put on each roll and was told that they do not officially weigh it out and just stuff it on there. Most regular sized rolls include 4 oz of meat but if I had to guess my Red's lobster roll had easily 10 to 12 oz of meat in it, and at only around $3 to $4 more than the average it was easily worth the price. I couldn't pick it up to take a normal bite so I dug in with a fork and dipped in the provided side of melted butter to test out the meat. It was some of the freshest & tastiest lobster meat that I've ever had, and my concerns of it being overrated were immediately gone. When I ate enough meat to finally pick it up and take a normal bite, it was like a whole new delicious meal. I was super close to putting this roll at least in a tie for best ever but decided to keep it just a single decimal point behind and firmly as a runner up.
$23.75 and they do not specify an official weight for the roll's meat
Small french fries - $3.25
*CASH ONLY* - So make sure to have on hand, but they do have ATM machine on site
Overall Score = 9.4
Erica's Seafood is located in the southern tip of the beautifully scenic West Harpswell, right next to Dolphin Marina. The business is owned & operated by Tom Butler & Andrea Hunter, along with their daughter Erica, whom the business was named after. Starting as just a lobster retailer right on the wharf in 2009 and then opening their full menu takeout stand in Summer of 2011. As soon as I pulled into the parking lot I was amazed at the stunning views Pott's Harbor and couldn't wait to try one of their lobster rolls. You walk up a few stairs to the takeout shack to place your order and then wait for your name to be called when ready. They offer a full menu including a number of fried rolls, as well as a crabmeat roll & a "crabster" roll,which is half lobster meat and half crab meat.
I had heard good things about their lobster roll so after finding a seat at one of the picnic tables in front of the shack, I waited anxiously to hear my name called out. The roll is served on a fresh buttered & toasted hot dog style bun. along with melted butter and a pickle on the side. The lobster meat was some of the freshest I had ever tasted and was cooked perfectly. It was coated with the thinnest layer of mayo and topped with a shake of salt & pepper. At only $15 this was one of the most inexpensive lobster rolls I've had in Maine, but was much better than other that were significantly more money. I enjoyed a few bites of the roll as is before even adding the melted butter and the flavor was amazing. Combining an incredibly tasty lobster roll with these amazing water views is a success for the perfect low key Maine meal experience. Side of fries available for $2.50 and bag of chips for $1. There's a vending machine next to the shack to purchase beverages and it's also BYOB if you so desire.
Standard size roll - $15
Chips - $1
*CASH ONLY* - So make sure to have on hand
Overall Score = 9.2
McLoons is a family owned Maine lobster shack located on Spruce Head Island, across from the area's oldest working lobster wharf, which is also owned by the same family. Owner Bree Burns started McLoon's Lobster Shack in 2012 after they decided to make use of the spot where a bait shed had just been sitting there for random storage. They had no clue how the shack would fare as a business but decided to give it a go as a destination for those out on a joyride along the coast. Now 7 years later it's often written about as having one of the best lobster rolls anywhere in Maine! Picturesque views of the working harbor and surrounding islands make this one of the most visually appealing lobster shacks that I visited in the state, and even better during sunset from what I hear! It's setup like your standard shack where you walk up to place your order, then find a good seat with a view and wait to be called. You have the option to order your roll either with mayo or warm butter, and standard size or the "Lobster Rolls Royce" with double the meat.
I resisted the temptation of the "Rolls Royce" option and went for a standard roll with hot butter, since I knew I'd be trying another spot the same day. The lobsters are pulled right from the nearby water and go right into the shack to be cooked as far as possible. When I grabbed my order I could tell off the bat this was going to be a tasty roll and snapped pics as quick as possible so that I could dive in. The bun was fresh, buttered & grilled slightly to provide the perfect base for this super fresh lobster meat. From the first bite I could tell how fresh it was and perfectly cooked, with having great flavor and texture in the meat. The only problem I had was that I couldn't hold back from finishing this roll super quick haha. It comes standard with a bag of original Cape Cod chips, coleslaw & a pickle. Between the ultra fresh lobster meat, friendly service and incredible water views, I would highly recommend a visit to McLoon's if you're in the area.
Standard size (4 oz) - $16.95
Comes with Cape Cod Chips, coleslaw & pickle
Overall Score = 9.2
Miller’s Lobster Company is a family-owned restaurant located in the fishing village of Spruce Head along mid-coast Maine. The business started in 1977 as tanks were installed to sell their freskly caught lobsters and then tables were setup to serve lobster dinners on location as well. Then in 1982 an official building with canopied sides was constructed to have more of an official seating area and then business grew from there. Still owned by members of the same family today, ocean views from 3 sides make this lobster shack as scenic of a stop as they get to enjoy fresh lobster. Another standard shack spot where you walk up to the window to place your and then go find a seat to wait. You can order your lobster roll either with light mayo or hot butter on the side, and even make it a melt for +$2, which I had yet to see at any other spot.
I found a great seat with a view across the water and enjoyed the beautiful weather as I waited for my roll. I had arrived around 4:30pm and was the only one there, and it seemed to take a while for my roll to be prepared. But I can only assume they were preparing it super fresh because I was not disappointed once it was finally delivered to my table. The first thing I noticed was the serious bun, that had nice weight to it and grilled perfectly. From the first bite I loved how the fresh tender meat and the buttery bun complemented each other perfectly. The meat was cooked perfectly and had great texture to it through every bite of the roll. It was served with Lays Classic chips and stuffed with a good amount of lobster meat for the price. Between the amazing ocean views, fresh lobster and good value for what you get, I would definitely recommend checking out Miller's Lobster Co. when you're in town.
Standard size - $19.75
Comes with Lays Classic chips
Overall score = 9.0
Five Islands Lobster Co. is perched on an active fishing wharf, on the edge of Sheepscot Bay, surrounded by some of the coldest and deepest waters on the coast. Located in the fishing village islands of Georgetown, often called “the prettiest harbor in Maine”, these waters some of most sought-after lobsters out there. At Five Islands the lobsters are pulled straight out of the water here and never tank-stored, so you know that you can't get them any fresher. Their "Lobster" building offers live or cooked lobsters, steamers, and other daily specials along with classic side items, while their "Love Nest" grill offers a full menu of prepared items, including of course lobster rolls. You line up in the front entrance for the main building to place your order, and there's usually is a decent sized line here! They offer a standard sized lobster roll and a "Big Boy" lobster roll with double the meat. Both options come with chips on the side and can upgraded to side of fries for $2 extra. I went with the standard size roll and side of fries, then waited patiently for my order to be called. There's plenty of seating at outdoor tables with amazing views of the water once you get your food, but always good to have someone with you to go save a good spot.
The roll is served on a fresh buttered & grilled hot dog style bun and stuffed with freshly picked lobster meat. They add just a touch of mayo and serve with a lemon wedge. I also got a side of melted butter to add on to my roll after tasting the meat first. They definitely didn't lie about having some of the freshest lobster meat in Maine, as it certainly tasted like it and was cooked perfectly, While savoring every bite and looking out at these stunning water views, I can see how Five Islands Lobster Co. always gets mentioned on most of the best of Maine lists.
Standard size roll w/ chips - $19.95
To make a basket w/ Fries - $2.00
Overall score = 8.8
The structure housing the Lobster Shack in Perkins Cove was originally a lobstermens shack for storage of been that has been in place there since 1900. In Summer of 1947 the building was converted to a restaurant called Maxwell Perkins Lobster Pound and served only lobster & steamers. Over the next 30 years the restaurant would add other items including chowder and lobster rolls, while still working out of a basic kitchen setup. After a big Winter storm in 1977 the shack had to be renovated, with the kitchen and dining room being updated to better serve it's growing customer base. Located across from the iconic footbridge in Perkins Cove, this spot has the advantage of being right in the middle of a tourist hotspot and although walking right by on it on several previous trips I had never popped in. After entering the shack the first thing I noticed was the simple rustic old fashioned feel that it had and busy workers hustling in their small kitchen. I was excited to see a true hot lobster roll option on the menu, as those turned on to be few and far between in Maine. They offer a standard sized 4 ounce lobster roll with or without mayo, and then 3 more options including a Double Lobster Roll (8 oz), The Triple (12 oz) & The Pounder (16 oz). After ordering a standard sized hot butter roll up at the counter we found an open table to wait for our food to be delivered to us.
Although a handful of lobster rolls on my Maine trips have been served with butter on them or on the side, this was the rare case in which the actual lobster meat was served hot. Being born & raised in Connecticut this is what I've grown up with and many from back home that I know won't entertain the thought of having one any other way. The roll was served on a fresh grilled hot dog style bun and came with ridged potato chips & coleslaw on the side. The lobster meat was cooked well and tasted super fresh, as was no surprise considering the location of the shack right next to where daily catches are brought in. I thoroughly enjoyed this lobster roll and the experience of enjoying it in this historic building right in the heart of Ogunquit's working harbor.
Standard size - $19
Comes with ridged potato chips & coleslaw
Overall score = 8.6
Established in 1956 on busy Route One in Kittery long before that stretch became bustling and busy with outlet shops, Bob’s was the locals' golden fried standard. Now Bob's is a favorite spot for locals and travelers alike who flock to the area during the busy Summer season. Bob’s has been featured on Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives and was named a “Great American Lobster Destination” by USA Today. They're also known for their fried clams, by following the same original Bob's recipe and using clams that are hand-selected for consistent size and quality. I pulled in to a super busy parking lot and customers filling order lines and tables alike. I got in line and enjoyed checking out their full menu, even though I knew I'd be ordering a lobster roll. After you place your order you wait to hear your number called and grab it from a separate pickup window. Another situation where it's good to have a dining companion go save a good table spot while you wait, but being on my own here I had to find a table after picking up my food. All of the tables in front by the road were taken, which was fine with me because it's a super busy road and not the best atmosphere. Luckily in back there are additional tables with a much better vibe away from the craziness.
The lobster roll was served on a standard hot dog style bun, buttered and grilled. Filled with fresh tasting lobster meat that was cooked well and covered in light coating of mayo. Although not a huge portion of lobster meat, every bite was tasty and the cold tender meat paired well with the grilled buttery bun. The fries were solid overall and had a good crispness to them, which is always important when it comes to my french fry preferences.. Overall a good experience eating here, but definitely lacks the ambience and views that make many of the other shacks a more complete dining package.
Standard size roll w/ fries & pickle - $21.95
Overall score = 8.2
Every summer since 1966, Fox's Lobster House has been serving tons of fresh Maine lobster, seafood, homemade Maine blueberry pie, and ice cream to the thousands of tourists who come to visit the famous Nubble Lighthouse each day. It's roots go all the way back to 1936 when the land was originally purchased and a small rustic lobster pound was built on the property. They pride themselves on boiling their lobster "the old fashioned way" in this same lobster pound now over 80 years later. Fox's has both an indoor restaurant & bar, as well an outdoor patio area to enjoy your meal with views of the iconic Nubble Lighthouse. Like most Maine seafood shacks, when eating outside you go up to the window and then wait for your order to be called.
We found an open table right in front of the order window and in no time at all our food was ready. The lobster roll comes on a buttered & grilled hot dog style bun, with a large bed of lettuce in between the bun and lobster meat. The meat was cooked well, tasted fresh & lightly coated in mayo. Comes with melted better and a side of french fries. Whenever a spot offers wild Maine blueberry lemonade I have to get it and here was no exception. The perfect beverage to wash down a lobster roll & fries on the water. With lighthouse and ocean views, this is a great spot to stop in southern Maine on either the beginning or tail end of a coastal road trip.
*Bonus - While ordering my roll I saw their list of ice cream flavors for the day and decided that if I had any room left at all in my stomach when i was done I would come back up. I think I may have tricked myself into pretending to be hungry still but I went for it anyways. I decided on a duo cup of "Maine Blueberry" & "Black Raspberry Explosion" and it couldn't have been a better decision. So make sure if you stop there to try and save room for dessert! They have a whole separate homemade dessert menu as well.
Standard size roll w/ fries - $21.95
Overall score = 8.1
Local lore establishes the Clam Shack's roots in 1968, when the little shanty was rented on a handshake. Current owner, Steve Kingston, bought the Shack and the adjoining Clam Shack Seafoods in 2000. Perched at the iconic bridge over the Kennebunk River, the Clam Shack provides a classic visual welcome to the many tourists that visit Kennebunkport every Summer. This tiny fish shack serves award winning fried food, traditional boiled lobster dinners and lobster rolls served on freshly baked buns from a local bakery. Their lobsters are caught right off Kennebunkport and are only out of their native water for the five minute trip from the boat to their lobster pound. The lobsters are then boiled in saltwater and handpicked and shucked in house..They pick up the special order rolls every morning from a 100 year old amily bakery, and say that their slight sweetness balances perfectly with the salt of the lobster. Rolls are available with butter, mayo or combination of both. To order you get in a typically longer line at this popular tourist spot and then wait for your number to be called to pick up.
After grabbing my food we were able to find a spot at one of the tables with a view of the inner harbor. Off the bat the main distinction of a Clam Shack lobster roll compared to the others is that it's on a round bun instead of the classic hot dog style bun. I was excited to try this roll as it had been mentioned in many top lists of Maine rolls. I went with the hot butter version and it also came with a lemon wedge on the side. The meat is cold and seemed fresh but had a sort of snap to it when I took each bite. There also wasn't as much flavor to the lobster meat as I had hoped for. The round bun was fresh, buttered & grilled, so that part of the roll I enjoyed. Not sure if I just caught them on an off day but unfortunately I'd have to put this lobster roll as my least favorite of any tried in Maine.
Round roll - $21.95
Small fries - $2.95
Overall score = 7.0