"This is your fantasy," a woman "from away" (that's Mainer lingo) said to her husband as they dined at Thurston's Lobster Pound in Bernard, Maine, on a sunlit summer evening. For any traveler who has dreamed of the quintessential experience of eating lobster in the rough in a picture-perfect Maine setting, this out-of-the-way seafood outpost overlooking Bass Harbor truly is a vision come to life. Over the sounds of people cracking open hard-shell and soft-shell lobsters, she continued verbalizing her enthrallment with Thurston's: "The food is good for my body, but the view is good for my soul. I could feast on the view," she said.
And with that lovely endorsement, you now know just about everything you need to know about why Thurston's Lobster Pound is worth the trip (it's about a half-hour drive from Bar Harbor, home to Maine's Acadia National Park).
There are just two more important things to note before you continue this Thurston's photo tour: With prices starting at just $12.99 per pound (as of 2019) for a small, hard-shell lobster, this seaside restaurant is an affordable place to savor Maine's signature crustacean, and the lobsters at Thurston's couldn't be any fresher.
A Maine Tradition Since 1993
Since 1993, Maine visitors dreaming of the ideal coastal setting for a lobster feast have found their way to Thurston's Lobster Pound in Bernard, where sweet, butter-dipped lobster and other seafood specialties await. You'll love savoring just-caught lobster in this picturesque waterside setting. Thurston's is a not-to-be-missed dining destination near Bar Harbor, Maine.
The view from Thurston's Lobster Pound looks like a book cover, and indeed, photos similar to this have graced the covers of travel guidebooks and coffee table books like The New England Coast: The Most Spectacular Sights & Destinations.
Looking out over Bass Harbor from Thurston's Lobster, the scene is serene in the early evening, now that lobstermen's work for the day is done. Lobster boats reflect in vivid blue waters, awaiting the next day's crustacean chase. If there's a wait for a table—and there often is, since Thurston's does not accept reservations, even for large groups—you won't mind spending time admiring and photographing this scene.
All of the Trappings
Any doubt that Thurston's Lobster Pound is situated overlooking a working harbor will be erased when you view the towers of lobster traps piled on the docks surrounding the restaurant. Thurston's buys its lobsters right from the lobstermen who work these waters. Your dinner probably spent last night roaming the ocean floor.
Lobster traps are elaborate, well-designed contraptions. Bagged bait (typically herring) is placed in the part of the trap called the "kitchen," to entice lobsters in. This detailed explanation of how the trap prevents lobsters from snacking and running compares the ingenious design to a fun house... or to The Eagles' "Hotel California." Hauling traps is hard work, and may of the lobsters caught are tossed back if they are egg-laying females or do not meet size requirements. So, give thanks for Maine's lobstermen before you tie on your bib at Thurston's and dig into the local catch.
Salt Air and Sea Breezes
Screened upstairs and downstairs dining areas at Thurston's Lobster Pound offer ample seating and glorious views of lobster boats in the harbor. Salt-tinged breezes add to the authenticity of this memorable dining experience.
The Real Draw
The view is amazing, but let's be real. It's the fresh-from-the-boat lobster—soft or hard shell, your choice—that keeps travelers beating a path to Bernard. Sure, you need a bib, but eating lobster in the rough (simply prepared) isn't really so rough.
Other highlights on the menu at Thurston's include steamer clams with drawn butter for dipping, creamy hot lobster dip with just a bit of a kick, pan-fried crabcakes made with Maine-caught crab and tasty corn on the cob. Before you go, learn how to eat a whole lobster like a New Englander. Or, if you're looking for a no-work alternative, order a lobster roll or lobster BLT. A nice selection of wine and local beers is available. Save room for blueberry cake for dessert!
Thurston's Lobster Pound is open seasonally, Monday through Saturday, plus the Sundays of Labor Day and Columbus Day weekends (but closed on those Monday holidays). They accept all major credit cards.