Visiting Maine in the summer presents a dilemma. Naturally, you’ll want to enjoy the state’s iconic sandwich, the Maine lobster roll. The signature sandwich always includes cold hunks of lobster dressed in mayonnaise on a bun but despite the consistency of ingredients, quality varies wildly.
We hit the road in New England to investigate the ones from the Pine Tree State for an entire, epic and lobster-filled day. Enjoy the benefits of our research while we try to invent an excuse to explain our lobster roll-eating binge to our trainer.
Bob’s Clam Hut, Kittery, ME
Just over the state line, Bob’s Clam Hut is the perfect way to say “Hello!” and/or “Goodbye!” to Maine. If there’s seasoning, it’s undetectable, and the bun is buttered and toasted to be just a little warm without imparting any heat on the cool, succulent lobster meat. Dressed in the slightest bit of mayo to keep it from being too dry but not so much that you can taste the condiment, Bob’s is pretty much the perfect Maine lobster roll.
Bayley’s Lobster Pound, Scarborough, ME
Legend has it that the Maine lobster roll was born at Bayley’s Lobster Pound, over a century ago. Whether or not it’s the true lobster roll birthplace, the Bayley’s roll is definitely an entirely different affair from the others on this crawl. The roll is a behemoth—and it needs to be enormous to encompass all the fresh lobster meat. The lobster is heartily slathered with mayo, creating a kind of lobster salad with a dash or two of salt. You can opt to have the bun toasted so it’s a bit crispy, but it isn’t warm or buttered. The lobster tastes fresh, a little salty and sweet in the mayo. It definitely strikes you as more of a lobster salad sandwich, especially with the excellent coleslaw that comes on the side.
The Highroller Lobster Co., Portland, ME
Up in Portland, Highroller looks and feels a lot like a retro diner—one that serves a damn fine lobster roller and a rave-worthy brisket-blended cheeseburger topped with grilled onions (#WhyNotBoth). The locally baked, flaky brioche rolls are like warm, buttery boats delivering barely dressed and very sweet mouthful-sized pieces of lobster meat to your face. Order a local beer—they have Allagash and Austin Street on their menu—and douse the roll with house-made lobster ghee and do your best not to actually bathe in probably the best surf-and-turf combo you’ve ever had.
Portland Lobster Company, Portland, ME
Need just one more lobster roll fix before bed? Portland Lobster Company serves their rolls late. Though there’s always a wait, there’s a great deck out back complete with a bar and probably a great local band providing entertainment. Their roll is refreshingly normal human-sized and there’s a bit of lettuce tucked between the fresh lobster and the toasted bun. Post up on a barrel right by the edge of the deck, look out on the water and thank goodness for lobster.