Customers line up to order at Red’s Eats in Wiscasset last summer. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

Is there anything more quintessentially emblematic of Maine than a lobster roll? Lighthouses, arguably. But when you’re hungry, those aren’t much of a help. And nor are they particularly Maine-specific; after all, there are nearly 19,000 lighthouses found all over the globe. But a lobster roll? Now that’s a Maine-centric icon you can sink your teeth into.

Ah, but not so fast. As much as an institution as the lobster roll may be, opinions differ greatly over the best way to cook, serve and eat them. Some argue it’s sacrilege to dress the lobster chunks with anything but melted butter. (That’s known as Connecticut-style.) Others fiercely advocate for the Maine version, which comes tossed with mayo, tarragon and celery or scallions. Some like their bun grilled, some steamed, while others prefer them uncooked and served at room temperature.

Some want theirs served plain with a side of harbor views, others are satisfied with only the heftiest of portions, while others are happiest when theirs is laced with international flavors or luxury toppings. Here’s where to find top-notch specimens of all of the above.

The lobster roll at Red’s Eats has more than an entire lobster’s worth of meat. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

FOR SIZE: Red’s Eats

Don’t let the inevitable long line deter you; it’s here because this is home to some of the most generously stuffed rolls you’ll find in New England, with more than an entire lobster – including the meat of two claws and a whole, split lobster tail – on each. The rest is clearly secondary; it comes with a side of either mayo or Kate’s Maine Butter.

41 Water St., Wiscasset, 207-882-6128, Wednesday through Sunday, 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.


FOR DESTINATION: McLoon’s Lobster Shack

With a working lobster wharf and harbor on Spruce Head Island as your backdrop, the crispy golden brown rolls are filled with sweet meat and a hybrid schmear of mayo and butter. Shippable lobster roll kits are also on offer.

315 Island Road, South Thomaston, 207-593-1382, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Even without caviar, the White Barn Inn’s lobster roll is luxurious. Photo courtesy of White Barn Inn


When life (or your relationship) calls for a luxurious, over-the-top splurge, reserve a romantic table at White Barn Inn and order the house spin on a classic roll. Savor the buttery toasted brioche bun that arrives stuffed with lobster and topped with gleaming Siberian caviar – indulging delicately, so as not to drop a morsel of it on your (white linen) napkin.

37 Beach Ave., Kennebunk, 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. daily.


The Lobster Shack at Two Lights in Cape Elizabeth earns points for its scenery. Press Herald photo by John Patriquin

FOR SCENERY (THE COUNTRY VERSION): The Lobster Shack at Two Lights

The only thing that might distract you from the minimalist (as in, a blob of mayo dolloped on top beside a pickle chip) roll at this local landmark? The gorgeous rocky shores and endless horizon all around you.

225 Two Lights Road, Cape Elizabeth, 207-799-1677; noon to 7 p.m. daily.

Patio seating at Luke’s Lobster Portland Pier. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

FOR SCENERY (THE CITY VERSION): Luke’s Lobster Portland Pier

Soak up the 360-degree views across the stunning expanse of sparkling Portland Harbor from your perch in the main dining room and dig into Luke’s rolls packed with chilled chunks of meat, laced with both mayo and lemon butter and a secret seasoning mix. If the view you want is from your own deck at home, the co-op company also ships lobster roll kits that include all of the fixings.

60 Portland Pier, Portland, 207-550-2490; 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.


Lobster rolls from Luke’s Lobster in Portland. Photo courtesy of Luke’s Lobster

FOR LOBSTER BOAT PROXIMITY: Thurston’s Lobster Pound

The supersized lobster rolls here are made extra sweet by the entertainment – watching lobster boats return to the wharf with the day’s catch.

9 Thurston Road, Bernard, 207-244-7600, noon to 9 p.m. daily.

Eventide’s famous steamed, bao-inspired buns with picked lobster meat and brown butter vinaigrette, as sold in a kit by Big Tree Grocery. Photo by Andrew Ross


This isn’t a lobster roll; it’s an institution. Using fluffy Chinese bao in lieu of a standard roll makes for a pillowy steamed bun, which is then loaded with juicy, plump lobster and a rich, nutty brown butter vinaigrette. Divine.

86 Middle St., Portland, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily.

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