There’s a reason why cruise ship dining rooms are always packed on lobster tail night. The succulent crustaceans are widely considered a prized delicacy for their rich flavor and the luxury status which accompanies dining on them.
However, we’re here to make one thing very clear; not all lobsters are created equal. The spiny, clawless sea bugs found in warm waters of Florida or elsewhere can’t compare to the Holy Grail of seafood, the Maine lobster.
Sweet, tender, and dripping with melted butter and lemon, there may not be a better meal on Planet Earth than a freshly caught Maine lobster. Vacationland, as the state is known, is inundated with travelers each and every summer looking for the best crustacean money can buy. Steam them, boil them, put them in a sandwich, add them to Pad Thai or make your mac and cheese epic, there are a hundred ways to enjoy lobster and if you’re visiting the Pine Tree State this summer, here are some can’t-miss stops for your road trip along Maine’s beautiful coastline!
Finding the Best Maine Lobster
Here’s a quick trivia question; which state has more ocean coastline: Maine or California?
That’s right, Vacationland. With more than 3,400 miles of coast, Maine actually ranks 4th in the country behind Alaska, Florida and Louisiana. That’s great news for lobster lovers because it means there’s plenty of cold, rocky waters for our favorite crustaceans to thrive in. Finding the best spot for a lobster dinner in Maine isn’t hard, but there are definitely places where the authenticity and charm of a Down East meal makes everything taste better. Here are some of our favorites!
Port Lobster Co. – Kennebunkport
If you’re driving north up to Maine, one of the first towns you get to along the coast is Kennebunkport. Best known for Walker’s Point, the summertime residence of the Bush Presidential family, the town is your quintessential Maine coastal village with rocky beaches, colorful trap markers bobbing in the bay and one of our favorite places to have a lobster!
Port Lobster Co. is a family-run business serving up fresh Maine seafood since 1953. What we love about Port Lobster Co. is that they keep it simple. Their no-frills lobster dinners, lobster rolls and chowders are packed to the brim with quality seafood because that’s what the people want. A steamed lobster dinner includes TWO 1-pound lobsters, coleslaw and chips for just $19.95. Our advice? Start off with a piping bowl of clam chowder and finish with another Maine delicacy – blueberry crisp.
The High Roller Lobster Co. – Portland
The trendy city of Portland, Maine was named 2018 Restaurant City of the Year by Bon Appetit thanks in part to the many fantastic seafood restaurants that line the famous Old Port downtown district. One of those restaurants, The High Roller Lobster Co., is taking a new approach to our favorite lobster dishes and the results have been nothing short of delicious.
What started as a food cart in 2015 has grown into a permanent location and cultivated a legion of fans who flock there for traditional lobster rolls and a whole lot more. Take the Surf & Turf burger for example, which features an 8oz Brisket Blend Patty topped with butter-poached lobster meat, chopped romaine and your choice of sauce on a freshly baked sesame seed bun. The Lobster Cheese Crisp Taco has a shell made from crispy fried cheese and is filled with the contents of a traditional lobster roll. Don’t skip the Lobster Rangoons, either!
Bite Into Maine – Cape Elizabeth
The only food truck on our list, Bite Into Maine can be found just outside of Portland in nearby coastal Cape Elizabeth. Started by Karl and Sarah Sutton in 2011, the goal of Bite Into Maine was to bring a new variety of lobster rolls and dishes to the people. They experimented with all manner of spice and flavor and the results have customers coming back again and again.
You can order a lobster roll a number of different ways at Bite Into Maine, like Connecticut-style with a warm butter drizzle on top or curry-style which features yellow Indian curry mayo. The lobster mac and cheese is another popular order thanks to white cheddar and fontina cheese topped with a healthy serving of butter-poached lobster meat and crumbly Ritz crackers. The view isn’t so bad, either!
Claws – Rockland
If your town is going to be home to the official Maine Lobster Festival, then you better have a great local spot to enjoy. Enter Claws in Rockland, Maine, which stocks its seafood tanks daily with lobsters caught fresh just a few hundred yards away in West Penobscot Bay. Owners Steve and Luanne Stinson come from a long line of Mainers working in the seafood industry and their dedication to freshness and quality is evident with every meal.
The menu has everything from traditional lobster dinners to the unbelievable Lobster Shortcake with Cognac Cream Sauce where Chunks of fresh lobster meat are sautéed in butter, Cognac and cream and served over a large split buttermilk biscuit. If you’re feeling extra hungry, add on another Maine specialty for the whole family to share; an order of fried whole belly clams.
The Travelin’ Lobster – Bar Harbor
No trip to Maine is complete without visiting the gorgeous sights of Acadia National Park. Located on Mt. Desert Island, the local community is geared towards the influx of visitors each summer, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find a place to eat lobster like a real Mainer. Real Mainers is exactly what you’ll find at The Travelin’ Lobster, a business run by real lobster fisherman for going on 50 years. Captain Phil Corsons now operates the business his parents founded and it gets visitors from all over the world looking for the freshest seafood and the most authentic Maine lobster experience.
It’s a no-nonsense establishment that deals in what people really want, high quality seafood prepared by the very people who have been fishing the Maine coast for decades. The 1.5 pound lobster dinner comes with your choice of steamed mussels or coleslaw, corn on the cob and freshly drawn butter or you can upgrade to the Down East Feast which adds an order of steamed clams to it all. Trust us, don’t leave without a slice of blueberry pie and a scoop of vanilla ice cream!
Honorable Mention: The Red Barn – Augusta
Even the people of Central Maine know great seafood when they taste it, and that’s why they keep going back to The Red Barn in the state’s capital city of Augusta. The lobster rolls are delicious, but it’s the fried seafood baskets that really make The Red Barn something special. Choose between a number of different seafood options like haddock, whole belly clams, scallops and even deep-fried lobster claw meat. If you’re feeling slightly guilty at the mass amounts of calories, opt for fried tempura vegetables instead!
Evan Gove is a native Mainer and the Content Manager for Porthole.com. He spent the first 22 years of his life in Maine cultivating his appreciation for the fruits of the sea before relocating to sunny South Florida. When he’s not thinking about cruise ships, you can find him riding his bike along the beach or making somewhat good use of his degree in writing.