There’s no better place in the world to enjoy fresh lobster than the state of Maine. Thousands of scrappy, independent lobstermen ply Maine’s cold coastal waters, trapping millions of pounds of the coveted crustacean annually. Here are 20 of the best places in Maine to enjoy fresh-cooked lobsters, fresh-picked lobster rolls, and other lobster goodies.
Said to be the birthplace of the Maine lobster roll, Bayley’s in Pine Point, Maine, is a busy lobster wholesaling operation with a lovely restaurant and bar on an open-air pier overlooking the marshy Nonesuch River. Bayley’s Bait Shed restaurant is famed for its lobster roll and its various whole-lobster dinners, including a Lazy Man’s lobster dinner: meat from two whole lobsters baked in breadcrumbs.
The lobster gods surely smile down on Five Islands in Georgetown, Maine. It’s one of the best, most complete places to go for the quintessential Maine lobster experience. Fresh catches of large, deep-water lobsters are offloaded here throughout the day and boiled to perfection. The lobster rolls brim with fresh-picked lobster meat, the haddock chowder is made fresh daily, and the deep-fried seafood is top-notch. Top all this with a gorgeous view of the five islands offshore in Sheepscot Bay, and you’ll think you’ve found lobster heaven.
Hard by a tidal creek on Maine’s southern border, this place serves up boiled lobsters on its brightly colored picnic tables throughout the summer months. Regular patrons of this BYO establishment bring their own side dishes and tableware (including the occasional candelabra) along with libations to feast waterside under an open sky. Boaters on the creek tie up and join the merriment on the pier throughout the day.
This double-decker lobster shack overlooking beautiful Bass Harbor sits right next to a large lobster dock, where dozens of boats come and go throughout the day with their fresh catches. Thurston’s lobster boiler sits just outside the front door, giving you a sneak peek at the good things to come. Order a whole lobster with corn, coleslaw, chowder, and chips, and be sure to save some room for Thurston’s famous blueberry cake.
This upscale lobster shack in the Perkins Cove area of Ogunquit features a lovely deck overlooking the cove where whole boiled lobsters, paprika-speckled lobster rolls, and Billy’s famous rum punches are enjoyed on sunny days. If it’s chilly or rainy, grab a table next to the fireplace in the enclosed indoor porch. This spot was a favorite of former president George H.W. Bush, who spent summers just up the coast in Kennebunkport.
Another shack favorite of the Bush family is Kennebunkport’s famed Clam Shack, which serves what many consider to be the best lobster roll anywhere. Made with freshly picked new shell lobster and served on a locally baked, hamburger-style bun, this superior roll may be ordered with mayo or melted butter or both. The homemade clam chowder and onion rings are good choices for sides.
Just north of Kennebunkport in the hamlet of Cape Porpoise, there’s a shack that’s tailor-made for lobster dinners. Nunan’s is owned and operated by the namesake family of lobster fishermen and their spouses. Nunan’s motto: “We catch ‘em, we cook ‘em, we crack ‘em, you eat ‘em.” The fresh-boiled lobsters are served on round metal trays along with melted butter, a bag of chips, a dinner roll and pickles. Simple pleasure at its best!
This place may have the best ocean view of any lobster joint in Maine, separated from the sea by a ledge of rocks and backdropped by two lighthouses and a working foghorn. The lobsters here are freshly procured from nearby Portland every day, and the generously portioned lobster rolls come with a large dollop of homemade mayo on top of the lobster meat.
This modest food trailer has developed a huge following in the few years that it’s been perched in Williams Park next to the Portland Head Lighthouse in Cape Elizabeth. Several different lobster rolls are available, including the Connecticut (hot, buttered), the Maine (chilled with mayo), the Picnic (with coleslaw on top), and lobster rolls mixed with chipotle, curry, and wasabi-infused mayos. The views of the lighthouse are unforgettable.
Located on its own pier in the heart of downtown Portland, this open-air eatery offers fine-tasting lobsters and lobster rolls on the city’s colorful waterfront. The lobster bisque is also outstanding—thick and creamy with fresh-cut chives and a chunk of lobster claw on top. There’s live music nearly every night in the summertime and a wide selection of local brews to enjoy.
Known internationally for its lobster roll, Red’s is a must-stop on many lobster lovers’ lists. Their meaty roll comes with a side of mayo or butter or both, and the roll is a meal unto itself. If you think you can handle more, try their fried clams, which are also very good. Be forewarned that the line and wait are always very long here.
Just across the street from Red’s Eats is the more modest Sprague’s Lobster. The lobster roll here is every bit as good as Red’s, and the wait is a fraction of the time you’ll spend in line across the street. Plus, you can get a whole boiled lobster and enjoy it at a picnic table on the spacious deck overlooking the Sheepscot River. Give this place a shot if you’re looking for a good lobster experience in the pretty town of Wiscasset, Maine.
In the tony enclave of Boothbay Harbor, it’s best to go to the harbor’s eastern side and seek out Boothbay Lobster Wharf for a top-notch lobster experience. This large, working lobster wharf sits high above the waterline on a massive wooden dock covered with picnic tables and lobster tanks. Pick out your lobster, and it’ll be cooked up for you on the spot. Meaty lobster rolls and creamy lobster chowder round out the lobster offerings at this Midcoast Maine gem.
Like many lobster shacks in Midcoast Maine, Muscongus Bay is a family-owned operation going back three generations and counting. Current owner Dan Reny oversees a large lobster wharf where numerous boats offload their catches daily. He handpicks the best lobsters from the catches and sends them to his cook shack, where customers may select their favorites and have them boiled up on the spot, along with an ear of locally grown corn. The outdoor deck here is one of the most scenic and comfortable on the Maine coast.
Round Pond Lobster
Blink, and you might miss this wonderful little lobster stand next to Muscongus Bay Lobster. Owner Buddy Poland is a relaxed Mainer who has perhaps the most friendly and charming lobster shack in the state. It’s just a few picnic tables on a lobster dock serviced by a small shed with a cooker, a refrigerator and not much else. The lobsters are off-the-boat fresh, and you may bring any side dishes and libations you wish to round out your meal.
This small, family-run operation is squirreled away on a back road in rural Spruce Head, right in the heart of lobster country. The lobstering Miller family runs this micro-seasonal (Father’s Day to Labor Day) shack from their modest wharf that’s serviced by 10 lobster boats. Whole boiled lobster is the way to go here, but they also have a fine lobster roll and several different kinds of chowder, including lobster corn chowder.
McLoon’s sprang up several years ago as an adjunct to a longstanding wholesale lobster wharf in Spruce Head. In its short life, McLoon’s has garnered much praise for its tasty lobster rolls and its super-fresh lobster dinners. Ask for the lobster roll with the mayo slathered on the inside of the bun, or head down to the small dock to pick out your whole lobster from the sizeable plastic crate tethered to one of the pilings. Be sure to stick around for the amazing sunsets that occur almost nightly over the pine-speckled forest across the bay.
Want to see 30,000 pounds of live lobsters under one roof? The cavernous, tank-filled warehouse at Young’s in East Belfast, Maine, holds that many for shipment around the world, and they serve up fresh lobster dinners and other delights from their small cook stand. Try the shore dinner, with a whole lobster, corn on the cob, steamers and freshly made chowder. If you’re feeling particularly peckish, go for the twin lobster dinner with potato chips on the side. This is also a great place to load up your cooler with live lobsters for boiling or steaming later.
While driving to Mount Desert Island and Acadia National Park, look for this lobster pound’s quaint, smoking chimneys from their roadside, wood-fired outdoor boilers. Trenton Bridge has been pulling lobster devotees off the highway for decades with its famed outdoor cookers and outside picnic tables, ideal for devouring fresh-boiled lobsters and steamers. Lobster stew is another specialty here.
Located next to Mount Desert Island’s Coast Guard station, Beal’s is a beehive of activity during Maine’s summer high season. The outer portion of Beal’s lobster dock is a busy lobster wholesaling operation, while the dock’s inner portion features an excellent seafood stand serving fresh-steamed lobsters and clams, deep-fried seafood, and umbrellaed tables with varnished nautical maps for tabletops. There are fine ocean and harbor views to be enjoyed while dining.