I may make a lot of enemies with this story, but I will try to do my East Coast friends justice and share my favorite lobster shacks for the ultimate lobster crawl.
It is no secret New England natives love heading to the coast during the summer, sitting by the water, and chowing down on succulent lobster rolls, popping clam fritters in their mouths, and enjoying flame-roasted corn on the cob. It’s arguably the best activity to do on a balmy summer day, and nothing beats it. If you are not a native New Englander, you may be surprised to know that there are friendly “rivals” when it comes to what is served in all six states.
A lobster roll from Maine is served chilled and dressed with mayo. However, a Connecticut lobster roll is slightly warm, served in butter, and presented on a toasted bun. The subtle differences and varieties you find throughout the East Coast are worthy of a lobster shack tour.
Here are some of the best places to grab a lobster roll (all of which I’ve personally vetted) to whet your appetite.
Abbott’s Lobster in the Rough
If you like a serving of history with your lobster roll, you have to visit Abbott’s Lobster in the Rough. Sure, it is a no-frills destination, but that’s what is so charming about this 1947 establishment. You order from a wooden shack, park yourself by the water, and chow down on the buttery lobster roll with a packet of chips to chase your meal. There are other things on the menu, like stuffed clams, steamers, and corn on the cob, but everyone comes for the lobster rolls, served with extra melted butter on the side.
Captain Scott’s Lobster Dock
Hot or cold lobster roll? If you can’t choose, then you might as well get them both. At Captain Scott’s, you have a lot of seafood to choose from. It is extremely busy on weekends, but that’s all part of the fun. Join other families enjoying the CT sunshine and order a la carte, choosing from po-boys, lobster rolls, and fluffy hush puppies. If you feel the need to get everything off the menu, get the Captain’s Combo with extra fried shrimp. Be sure to wash everything down with a cool glass of Schooners coffee soda.
Guilford Lobster Pound
Guilford Lobster Pound hits all the right spots as a coastal lobster shack for summer vibes: fresh seafood, great views overlooking Faulkner Island, and did I mention stellar seafood? Lobster is the star of the show here, and Guilford has some of the freshest claw rolls you can get in Connecticut, but if you want to try something different, go for the clear-broth chunky clam chowder.
Chauncey Creek Lobster Pier
There is something very refined about Chauncey Creek Lobster Pier. As a guest, you sit patiently by the calm, broad tidal creek awaiting your meal, sipping on BYO wine as if you were not at a lobster shack—but you are! You come to Chauncey’s for fresh lobster and cherrystones or oysters on the half-shell, but if you are hankering for fried food, choose between coconut shrimp or “Chowdah,” which comes thick and creamy—as it should be!
Five Islands Lobster Co.
Maine lobster shacks are completely out of this world, and no matter where you go in New England, you just have to drive a little further out and try out any old Maine shack and taste the difference. Five Islands Lobster Co. is a great start on your lobster pilgrimage, with the shack located at the end of Route 127. Celebrate your long journey touring New England with cold-water, hard-shell lobster caught off the East Coast, but be sure to gather your friends and order other items like the award-winning fried clams and crunchy onion rings. If you remember, lift your head up from your meal and take in the view of Sheepscot Bay.
Roy Moore Lobster Company
Father and son-operated Roy Moore Lobster Company in Massachusetts may just be the friendliest lobster shack you will visit this Summer. The cute little wooden shack is small, but the heart of the 1918 establishment makes waiting in line for your meal very well worth your while. Everything is local and freshly caught that day, with the owners working with Rockport inshore lobstermen for the juiciest and sweetest lobsters from boat to table. The raw bar is outstanding, but you really must try the lobster Mac n’ cheese or gratinated scallops, which are best enjoyed on the outdoor waterfront deck.
Petey’s Summertime Seafood and Bar
WHERE: New Hampshire
Opened in 1990, Petey’s catches its own seafood and is where locals go for clam bakes during the summer. But if you are just popping by during the summer and not hosting a party for 30 of your friends, you should try all the quintessential Petey favorites. Open year-round, the menu starts from scallop rolls to a traditional clambake dinner, but you have to go for their award-winning corn chowder no matter what you do.
Brown’s Lobster Pound
WHERE: New Hampshire
An old-timer compared to other lobster shacks in the state, Brown’s Lobster Pound opened in 1950 and has continued to serve some of New Hampshire’s best lobster rolls which come doused in creamy mayo. The spicy lobster bisque is not for the faint of heart, but if you can’t stand the heat, then go for the tempura-like battered shrimps as you watch the summer sun set over Blackwater River.
Newport Lobster Shack
WHERE: Rhode Island
Supporting local lobster “hunters” makes driving up the east coast worth every mile. Newport Lobster Shack is one of the rare co-operatives supporting local fishermen who wake up at the crack of dawn and sell directly to the public— how lucky are we? With every lobster roll, steamed clam, and crab dinner you order, you pay the half dozen Newport fishermen their well-deserved salary. Thank you, lobster hunters!
If you love fried seafood of all varieties, you have to visit The Lobster Pool. Located on Cape Ann, enjoy beautiful views of Ipswich Bay and tuck into some seriously good seafood. The ho-boiled lobsters are nice, and so are the “no-nonsense, no celery lobster rolls,” but there is something really satisfying ordering the Lobster Pools dinner plates, which vary from calamari, shrimp or scallop, but who are we kidding? Get the Fisherman’s Plate, with all three, including haddock bites.
Some say Barnacle Billy’s is the best place to chill out during the summer when in Maine, and with whole lobsters, paprika-seasoned lobster rolls, and their famous rum punch all best enjoyed looking over Perkins Cove—who are we to argue? A family-run business in Kennebunkport makes this place very homey and enjoyable no matter when you go. Save room for the homemade blueberry pie.
Chatham Fish Pier
Cape Cod may be a little fancy but guess what, they have seafood shacks as well. Chatham Pier Fish Market is a seafood market, shack, and working fish pier where you queue up for lobster rolls handpicked from the fresh lobsters caught off Cape Cod. There are, of course, salads for the Cape Cod crowd of dieters, but who has time for that? Give me crispy onion rings, mayo-lobster rolls, and clam sandwiches, please! Oh, and check out the sea hound pie— you won’t be disappointed if you love seafood.