While you won't find any real seaside shacks in the landlocked Mile High City, there are still plenty of seafood-focused spots — including food trucks — serving up New England–style lobster rolls. From simple Maine-style versions to whimsical twists on the classic, here are seven of our favorite ways to satisfy our lobster-roll craving.
Occupying prime real estate in Union Station, this high-design temple to all things seafood turns out a terrific lobster roll. The sweet lobster meat, fresh from Maine, is lightly tossed in a housemade fennel-celery aïoli and sour cream dressing, served on a toasted local Grateful Bread bun that's smeared with clarified butter then topped with sweet Hungarian smoked paprika, a dash of celery salt and a squeeze of lemon.
1701 Wynkoop St.; 303-640-3474
Pourtions, the recently opened restaurant and pour-your-own-beer emporium in the NATIV Hotel, is already gaining a reputation for its lobster sliders — four mini-rolls sandwiching fresh Maine lobster claw meat. The succulent flesh, dressed with mayo, chives and celery, is served on buttered Hawaiian dinner rolls, an unexpected and sweet surprise for those accustomed to the typical hot dog bun.
1612 Wazee St.; 720-485-6450
Joseph Gerace, chef-owner of East Coast Joe's roaming food truck, turns out an exemplary lobster roll, made with the tail, claw and knuckle meat from fresh crustaceans overnighted from Maine. "Our lobster is cooked in seawater, which helps to maintain that great out-of-the-ocean taste," says Gerace, who serves his version on toasted New England split-top rolls brushed with butter. "A lobster roll on the wrong bun is a sin, and a lobster roll on a non-buttered bun is an absolute sin," insists Gerace, adding that the key to his sought-after sandwich resides in its simplicity. "There's no need to cover it up with celery, garnishes or pieces of lettuce; all that silly stuff that just gets in the way."
Price: Between $15 and $18, depending on market fluctuations
Josh Wolkon's packed-to-the-gills Uptown gathering spot is named for the Boston restaurant owned by his great-uncles, and while the menu is a winning tribute to all-American dishes, the New England lobster roll has been a hit since day one. Paired with a heap of some of the best fries in the Mile High City, the roll showcases meat — claw, knuckle and tail — from lobsters flown in from Maine, gently mixed in a mayo dressing with onions, celery and paprika and cradled in a buttered and griddled split-top bun.
523 E. 17th Ave.; 303-830-1001
"Bliss" isn't an overstatement when it comes to the sublime lobster rolls dispensed from this super-popular food truck owned by Rich Manzo and Jeff Reebie. The fresh lobsters, sourced from Maine and Canada, are held in a 45-degree, 2,500-gallon lobster tank upon their arrival in Denver, and the unique filtration system mimics the water-cleaning action of the ocean, naturally eliminating bacterial buildup. The rolls are a mixture of claw, knuckle and tail meat tossed with a lemon aïoli, and they're served on a toasted New England–style split-top bun drizzled with clarified butter.
While we love just about everything on Glaze's menu, we're obsessed with the unconventional lobster roll, a wholly surprising and satisfying take on the New England mainstay. Here, chef Kris Padalino combines plump lobster meat with pickled Asian pears, lettuce, red cabbage, carrots and a green curry aïoli and stuffs it all into a fresh-baked baumkuchen pretzel roll studded with salt.
1160 Madison St.; 720-387-7890
Wild Maine lobsters are harvested in the Gulf of Maine by a dedicated boat captain before they're flown to Jax Fish House, Dave Query's shrine to pristine seafood. Query's four Colorado locations — LoDo, Fort Collins, Boulder and Glendale — all feature the lauded lobster roll, a combination of claw and knuckle meat mounded on a house-baked roll glazed with butter and griddled on the flattop. Not that it needs any flourishes, but we wholeheartedly support the kitchen's decision to crown its rolls with crisp flecks of bacon lardons.