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Maine’s Top Lobster Rolls: 7 Must-Try Destinations

Lobster Shack in Midcoast Maine
Discover Portland Maine's top 7 restaurants for 2024. From fresh seafood to farm-to-table delights, experience Maine's best culinary offerings.

Maine’s Top Lobster Rolls. From Seaside Shacks to Gourmet Eateries, Discover Maine’s 7 Best Lobster Roll Spots

Maine is famous for its lobster rolls, a classic dish that has become a must-try for visitors and locals alike. During my travels, I’ve found that the perfect lobster roll combines fresh, local lobster meat with just the right amount of seasoning and is served on a perfectly toasted roll.

Maine lobster roll with sweet potato fries and a pickle

If you’re planning a trip to Maine and want to experience the best lobster rolls the state has to offer, you’re in the right place. From bustling cities to quaint seaside towns, there are numerous spots where you can enjoy this delicious delicacy. Allow me to guide you through the top seven places where you can find the ultimate Maine lobster roll.


1) The Highroller Lobster Co.


Highroller Lobster Company in Portland, Maine

I recently visited The Highroller Lobster Co. in Portland, Maine, and it was a delightful experience. The restaurant has grown from a food cart in 2015 to a well-respected eatery known for its quality food. The atmosphere was lively and welcoming, and the staff made me feel right at home.

Their lobster rolls are made with the freshest ingredients. The lobster meat was tender and flavorful, served in a soft, toasted roll. I also enjoyed their unique twists on the classic roll, like different sauces and toppings.

In addition to their famous lobster rolls, they offer a variety of other seafood dishes and drinks. Whether you dine in or catch them at a brewery or beer-fest, the quality remains top-notch. They also provide catering services for various events, which is perfect for special occasions.

Rating: 4.6 (4200 reviews)
Location: 104 Exchange St, Portland, ME 04101
Contact: (207) 536-1623
Website: Visit Website


2) The Lobster Shack at Two Lights


a delicious looking lobster roll

I visited The Lobster Shack at Two Lights and was blown away by its charm. Nestled above the rocks, this spot offers incredible ocean and lighthouse views. The soothing sound of waves crashing adds to the experience, making it more than just a meal.

The restaurant takes pride in its fresh and local seafood. The lobster rolls are packed with succulent lobster meat, making it clear why it’s a favorite. Each bite is a testament to their commitment to quality and freshness.

The history of the place is fascinating. Operating since the 1920s, it remains a beloved local landmark. There’s something special about enjoying classic Maine seafood in such a historic setting.

Rating: 4.3 (3100 reviews)
Location: 225 Two Lights Rd, Cape Elizabeth, ME 04107
Contact: (207) 799-1677
Website: Visit Website


3) McLoons Lobster Shack


McLoons Lobster Roll in Spruce Head Maine

I had a chance to visit McLoons Lobster Shack on Spruce Head Island. This family-owned spot offers more than just food; it provides an experience. The shack sits across from Maine’s oldest working lobster wharf, delivering picturesque views of the harbor and nearby islands. Watching local lobstermen unload their catch added an authentic touch to my visit.

The menu at McLoons is impressive. I indulged in their famous lobster roll, which lived up to its reputation. Beyond lobster, they also serve fresh oysters, homemade soups, and chowders. For those not inclined towards seafood, there are several other delicious options. The steamed lobster dinners were another highlight, providing a true taste of Maine’s seafood bounty.

McLoons Lobster Shack in Spruce Head Maine

The ambiance of McLoons is hard to beat. Sitting outside and enjoying the sunset while eating was a memorable experience. The environment felt welcoming, making it a perfect spot for families, friends, and even solo diners. Boaters are welcome too, adding to the lively and diverse crowd.

Rating: 4.8 (1300 reviews)
Location: 315 Island Rd, South Thomaston, ME 04858
Contact: (207) 593-1382
Website: Visit Website


4) Johnny Shucks Maine Lobster


Johnny Shuck"s Lobster Roll in Old Orchard Beach, Maine

I recently visited Johnny Shucks Maine Lobster in Old Orchard Beach. This cozy spot is just a block from the beach, which made it convenient to grab a bite after a day in the sun.

Their lobster rolls are incredible. The lobster meat was fresh, tender, and perfectly seasoned. The roll itself was buttery and toasted just right. It felt like the quintessential Maine lobster experience.

The atmosphere was friendly and welcoming. The staff was eager to help and made me feel right at home. It’s clear that they take pride in the quality of their food and customer service.

Rating: 4.9 (52 reviews)
Location: 16 Old Orchard St, Old Orchard Beach, ME 04064
Contact: (207) 937-2152
Website: Visit Website


5) The Travelin Lobster, LLC


Travelin Lobster in Bar Harbor, Maine

I visited The Travelin Lobster, LLC in Bar Harbor, ME and it lived up to its reputation. The place is entirely outdoors with picnic tables for seating. There’s no fancy dining area, but that adds to its charm. Despite the long line, the food comes out fast, and the wait is worth every minute.

The lobster rolls and other seafood dishes are fresh and juicy. I tried the 1.5lb whole lobster dinner served with mussels and corn on the cob, priced reasonably at $22. The 6oz lobster roll, which costs around $23/$24, is packed with chunks of lobster meat. They also offer a variety of other seafood dishes and even some options for non-seafood lovers.

For dessert, I enjoyed the blueberry pie, which can be topped with blueberry or maple walnut ice cream. The quality of the food is incredible and you can feel the family-run atmosphere. It’s pet-friendly too, and there’s plenty of space to park and sit.

Rating: 4.8 (1400 reviews)
Location: 1569 ME-102, Bar Harbor, ME 04609
Contact: (207) 288-8028
Website: Visit Website


6) Portland Lobster Company


Portland Lobster Company in Portland, Maine

The Portland Lobster Company is a standout spot for a classic Maine lobster roll. Located right on Commercial Street in Portland, it offers a wonderful waterfront experience. When I visited, I noticed the lively atmosphere and the friendly staff, which really added to the enjoyment of the meal.

I decided to try their lobster roll, which was packed with fresh, tender lobster meat. The roll was perfectly toasted, adding a pleasant crunch with every bite. The seasoning was simple yet flavorful, letting the natural sweetness of the lobster shine through.

One thing that really impressed me was the beautiful view from the outdoor seating area. Sitting by the water while enjoying a delicious lobster roll is an experience that captures the essence of Maine. The casual vibe makes it a great spot for both locals and tourists.

Rating: 4.2 (3800 reviews)
Location: 180 Commercial St, Portland, ME 04101
Contact: (207) 775-2112
Website: Visit Website


7) Luke’s Lobster Portland Pier


Lobster roll at Luke's Lobster Pound Pier in the Old Port in Portland, Maine

Recently, I had the pleasure of visiting Luke’s Lobster Portland Pier in the heart of the Old Port. The restaurant offers a picturesque setting directly on the working waterfront. The 360-degree views of the lobster industry are captivating, making it a perfect spot for seafood lovers.

The flagship restaurant has both indoor and outdoor seating. I particularly enjoyed the outdoor deck where dogs are welcome. It was nice to see people with their pups enjoying the sights. The fact that they only allow service dogs inside ensures a clean and comfortable interior space.

One of the highlights of my visit was the lobster roll. Known for being voted Portland, Maine’s best lobster roll, it certainly lived up to its reputation. The juicy, perfectly seasoned lobster filling made for an unforgettable meal. Additionally, the menu offers whole steamed lobster and other delightful seafood options.

Finding parking was quite convenient with metered spots available on the Pier. Keep in mind that these meters operate 24/7, so be prepared. Luke’s Lobster doesn’t take reservations, but walk-ins are welcome, ensuring a spontaneous and relaxed dining experience.

Rating: 4.6 (2200 reviews)
Location: 60 Portland Pier, Portland, ME 04101
Contact: (207) 550-2490
Website: Visit Website


History of the Maine Lobster Roll


A rustic seafood shack with a weathered sign, serving up a traditional Maine lobster roll on a toasted, buttered bun.

The Maine lobster roll has a rich and fascinating background, rooted deeply in the culture of Maine. Understanding its origins and its cultural impact can help appreciate this beloved dish even more.


Origins and Evolution

The lobster roll likely began in the early 20th century. Its origin is often linked to a restaurant in Milford, Connecticut, called Perry’s, which started serving it in 1929. Maine took this simple yet flavorful dish and made it its own.

Traditionally, the lobster roll consists of fresh lobster meat served in a buttered, toasted roll. The two main variations include adding either mayonnaise or drawn butter. Initially, lobster was considered a food for the poor, often served to prisoners. Over time, it evolved into a delicacy.

By the 1970s, the lobster roll had become a staple in Maine’s seafood cuisine. Its popularity grew thanks to tourists exploring the coastal areas, looking for local flavors. Today, different eateries across Maine offer their unique twists, but the essence remains the same: fresh, local lobster in a simple roll.


Cultural Significance in Maine

In Maine, the lobster roll is more than just a dish; it symbolizes the region’s maritime heritage and local economy. Lobstering has been a major industry in Maine for centuries, providing livelihoods to many communities.

The lobster roll, available from roadside stands to upscale restaurants, reflects Maine’s connection to the sea. It showcases the state’s dedication to fresh, local ingredients. The simplicity of the lobster roll highlights the lobster’s flavor, a point of pride for Maine lobstermen.

A seaside shack with a red and white striped awning, serving up classic Maine lobster rolls. The ocean glistens in the background.

Events like the annual Maine Lobster Festival further cement the lobster roll’s status in Maine’s culture. These gatherings celebrate not only the dish but also the hard work behind it. For many Mainers, enjoying a lobster roll is a way to support local fishermen and preserve an important part of their heritage.


Key Ingredients and Preparations

When it comes to making the best lobster roll, the quality and type of lobster, as well as the preparation methods, are crucial. Here, I will explore the types of lobster commonly used and the different preparation styles.

Types of Lobster

The main types of lobster used in rolls are claw and knuckle meat, tail meat, and sometimes a mix of both. Claw and knuckle meat are often favored for their tender and sweet texture. This type is often considered the most desirable for traditional rolls.

Tail meat is firmer and has a bolder flavor. It adds a bit of bite to each roll. Some people prefer tail meat for its rich taste. Combining both claw and tail meat can give a balanced texture and flavor profile.

Using fresh, local Maine lobster is key for authenticity. Frozen or imported lobster can sometimes lack the freshness that a true Maine lobster provides, making the quality subpar.


Traditional vs. Modern Preparations

Traditional lobster rolls are simple. They usually include just lobster meat, a touch of mayo, and sometimes a sprinkle of celery or chives. The lobster is often served cold on a toasted, buttered split-top bun. This lets the taste of the lobster shine without being overpowered by other ingredients.

Modern lobster rolls sometimes include creative twists. Variations might add herbs, spices, or different types of bread. Some rolls use both mayo and drawn butter for added richness, appealing to those who want a little more flavor complexity. Other versions might include unique toppings like avocado or spicy aioli.

Both traditional and modern rolls aim to highlight the lobster, but they cater to different taste preferences. The choice between them depends on whether you prefer a classic, straightforward approach or something with a modern flair.

A rustic seaside shack with a weathered sign reading Lobster Rolls stands against a backdrop of crashing waves and seagulls circling overhead.


Accompaniments and Pairings

When enjoying a classic Maine lobster roll, pairing it with suitable sides and beverages can greatly enhance the experience. Understanding what complements the rich flavors of lobster is key.


Best Side Dishes

A lobster roll goes wonderfully with local clam chowder. The creamy soup perfectly matches the tender, buttery lobster meat. Another great pairing is coleslaw. Its crisp texture and tangy dressing balance out the richness of the lobster roll.

I also like lobster rolls served with either crispy fries or potato chips. The crunch of well-seasoned fries or kettle cooked potato chips adds a delightful contrast. Corn on the cob, especially when grilled, can bring a sweet and smoky element to the meal. For a lighter option, a simple garden salad with a light vinaigrette can be refreshing and help cleanse the palate.


Beverage Recommendations

Choosing the right beverage to accompany a lobster roll can enhance its flavors. I recommend starting with a cold, crisp white wine like a Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay. These wines have a light acidity that complements the richness of the lobster.

For those who prefer beer, light lagers or pilsners are excellent choices. They are refreshing and have a subtle flavor that doesn’t overpower the lobster. If non-alcoholic drinks are preferred, a classic lemonade or even a sparkling water with a hint of lime can provide a nice, refreshing contrast to the meal.

Properly pairing your Maine lobster roll with thought-out sides and beverages will elevate the overall dining experience.


From Classic to Creative: 7 Unforgettable Lobster Rolls

Maine’s lobster rolls are more than just a meal; they’re a culinary journey through the state’s coastal heritage. From Portland’s innovative eateries to quaint seaside shacks, these seven spots offer the quintessential Maine lobster roll experience.

Whether you prefer the traditional mayo-dressed roll or a modern twist, each location provides its own unique take on this beloved dish.

As you plan your Maine adventure, be sure to include these lobster havens in your itinerary. Remember, the best time to savor these delectable treats is during the summer months when the lobster is at its freshest.

So pack your appetite and set out to discover why Maine’s lobster rolls have earned their legendary status in the world of seafood cuisine.

holding a lobster roll


Frequently Asked Questions about Finding Maine’s Best Lobster Rolls

In this section, I will address some common questions about finding the best lobster rolls in Maine, touching on locations, pricing, and seasonal considerations.

Which place in Portland, Maine, offers the best lobster roll experience?

In Portland, The Highroller Lobster Co. stands out for its fresh ingredients and creative menu offerings, making it a must-visit for lobster roll enthusiasts.

How much should one expect to pay for a lobster roll in Maine?

The price of a lobster roll in Maine can vary. Generally, one can expect to pay anywhere from $15 to $30, depending on the establishment and the roll’s size and quality.

When is the best season to visit Maine for an authentic lobster roll?

The prime time to visit Maine for an authentic lobster roll is during the summer months, from June to September. This is when lobsters are freshest, and many seasonal lobster shacks are open.



Picture of Mark Beale - Author Bio

Mark Beale - Author Bio

Mark has an extensive background in the Maine Hospitality Industry, having owned the Ledges By The Bay, a boutique oceanfront hotel property, in Rockport Maine, for 40 years. He sold the property in 2016 but remains well-versed in the Maine Tourism industry and has written a number of Maine travel-related articles for various blogs and publications over the years.

Mark founded the TakeMe2 Travel Guides platform, an online travel guide initiative, designed to promote tourism in Maine, New England and in other key states – by providing in depth, unbiased information to potential tourists and travel consumers. TakeMe2 currently features the website.

Mark is also currently a stakeholder in VONT, a digital marketing agency in Westbrook, Maine, where he leads VONT's search engine optimization (SEO) practice.

Mark is versed in a number of digital information technologies including web design and development, digital video, electronic design and digital imaging technologies as well as internet marketing tactics such as blogs, web properties, and other smart media such as AI chatbots for content, image and video enhancement. One of his primary tasks at VONT is to find the successful application of these new information platforms in marketing and then teach VONT's marketers how to use them to create marketing campaigns more efficiently, creatively and cost effectively.



2 thoughts on “Maine’s Top Lobster Rolls: 7 Must-Try Destinations”

  1. Wondering if you even tried Charlotte’s Legendary Lobster Pound near the Seawall in Bass Harbor? Just fabulous! Her Onion Rings are also to “die for”. While I agree the traveling Lobster is good, you really missed an opportunity if you did not even try Charlotte’s. Look her up – Her story is unique and the lobster is as sweet as it gets.

    1. Thanks for the feedback. The next time I’m in the Bar Harbor area, I ‘ll definitely look Charlotte’s Legendary Lobster Pound up. Again, thanks for the tip.

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