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Summer on a Bun: Lobster Roll Recipes and More

Maine- or Connecticut-style, nothing says summer in the Northeast like a fresh lobster roll.

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How do you like your lobster roll? Cold and dressed in mayo or warm and drenched in melted butter? Maybe you don’t have a preference, as long as it comes with a waterside view. No matter which lobster roll recipe you enjoy, you have a New England summertime tradition right in the palm of your hand.

Know Your Roll: Types of Lobster Rolls

There are two primary types of lobster rolls: Maine- and Connecticut-style. While some variations exist in between, most eaters are loyal to one or the other.

The cold lobster salad roll is known as the Maine lobster roll, and this is what most of the U.S. pictures when they think of this summer meal. Some will add celery, lettuce and other seasonings to the mix, but purists believe that nothing should come between fresh lobster meat and mayo.

If you are driving through Connecticut and stop at one of the many lobster huts along the shoreline, you are more likely to find a hot buttery Connecticut lobster roll.

If you’re lucky, you may find a spot that serves both and you can decide which option you like better – if your mind isn’t made up already.

One thing remains consistent among all bona fide lobster rolls – the roll needs to be a split-top, New England hot dog bun.

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The Tastiest Northeast Food Destinations

When you’re going on a trip, sometimes the best thing to do is to follow your stomach. In recent years, food tourism has become more and more popular.

Find a Lobster Roll Near You

McLoons Lobster Shack
South Thomaston, Maine

If you want to try both types of lobster rolls, take a drive up Interstate 95 to the small coastal town of South Thomaston. Head out to Spruce Head Island and you will find McLoons Lobster Shack, where you can get half mayo and half butter on one roll. This family-owned lobster shack is set near one of the area’s oldest wharfs, where you can sit out and watch the lobster fishermen pull in their catch of the day.

Blue Lobster Grille
Rockport, Mass.

If you’re looking for a classic New England seaside town, Rockport is the place you want to go. Blue Lobster Grille is right in the middle of it all. After walking around town and checking out the homemade candy shop, you can get your roll cold or hot, or try the lobster BLT.

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Arnold’s Lobster and Clam Bar
Eastham, Mass.

It wouldn’t be a proper Cape Cod road trip without a lobster roll. Named one of the best lobster rolls in Cape Cod, Arnold’s Lobster and Clam Bar offers both cold and warm lobster rolls in regular or jumbo size. Both are served with a side of famous Cape Cod potato chips made just down the street in Hyannis. After having a bite to eat, you can grab a famous Arnold’s ice cream and play a round at Arnold’s Mini Golf.

Easton’s Beach Snack Bar
Newport, R.I.

Easton’s serves all of the beach snack favorites, from burgers to fried seafood, but it’s known for its twin lobster salad rolls and buttered lobster rolls made with claw and tail meat. Take your meal out to the patio, which overlooks the beach, the Cliff Walk and the Newport mansions.

Captain Scott’s Lobster Dock
New London, Conn.

This quintessential lobster hut on a quiet marina gives you the chance to try both lobster roll styles while watching fishing boats coming in and out of the harbor. While you’re comparing rolls from different areas of the Northeast, why not try the New England and Rhode Island clam chowders, too, and have a full taste test.

Seven Sea’s Restaurant and Pub
Milford, Conn.

Seven Seas is known locally as one of the first places to serve a hot lobster roll. The hot buttered roll originated in Milford in 1929 at a restaurant called Perry’s that no longer exists, according to the Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink.

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The Shelly at New York City’s North River Lobster Company.

North River Lobster Company
New York City

Is there a better place to eat a lobster roll than on a boat? Located on the Hudson River and 41st Street at Pier 81, you can hop aboard and sail up the Hudson while enjoying North River’s 28-inch classic lobster roll, The Shelly. At 28 inches (!), it’s oh-so  sharable and very Instagrammable. The restaurant serves other varieties of the classic roll, including one with bacon, one tossed with truffle mayo, and one sprinkled with “everything” seasoning.

Lobster Roll Recipes

Want to host a lobster roll tasting party at home? All you need is enough split-top hot dog buns for everyone and a few lobsters. If you want to try it Maine-style, try this simple, user-friendly recipe from Bon Appetit. If Connecticut-style is more up your alley, saute salted butter and lobster in a pan until it is cooked through. Toast your roll and you’re ready for a feast.

What is your go-to lobster roll spot? Tell us in the comments.

  • Robert J.

    Stowe’s seafood West Haven CT on the water Very reasonable styles of the lobster including hot rolls. Bj

  • Tatiana L.

    The Lobster Shack in East Haven, CT. These folks have run this seasonal bust for years but have recently located to a new location right on the shoreline. Enjoy your CT-style lobster rolls and enjoy the view at the same time. As a bonus, they have a small non-Lobster menu for meat lovers and they take credit cards which not all places do.

    • Maggie M.

      Hi Tatiana! Thank you for your recommendation, helps out-of-towners find the right spot! Anyone else have a hidden gem?- MM

  • William G.

    Thanks for this article. My family members are huge lobster roll fans and we will visit some of the spots suggested.

  • Barbara A.

    Always used to go to Woodmans in Rockport on my birthdays growing up and got a whole lobster. , and sailed on the Maine Windjammers with lobster bakes, so the buttered rolls were always my favorite

  • Philip Y.

    I’ve tried lobster rolls in various states and the best I’ve ever had is at a local spot called the Quahog Republic. It’s located in downtown New Bedford, MA and it’s the only place that I go to for my lobster rolls. They pile perfectly seasoned lobster meat that has NO MAYO and it is absolutely incredible. I strongly urge you to check them out as they really should be on your list of “go to” spots for a lobster roll!!

  • Sandra C.

    Try Tommy’s Lobster Shack in Warwick, Rhode Island. It’s huge. Not on a hot dog roll. Much bigger. You can also get the Trio; a cup of chiefs, 3 clam cakes and 3/4 of a lobster roll at a reasonable price.

  • Michael M.

    One of the best lobster rolls can be found throughout New England at a reasonable price a D’Angelos Restaurants. The best for less!!!

  • Barbara C.

    We had great hot lobster rolls, served with fries and cole slaw, at the Danbury , CT “99” Restaurant. I believe they offered cold lobster rolls as well. Strictly a special limited time summer menu item and who knows this crazy covid year? Would check first.

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