The Hottest Lobster Rolls Around the U.S.
National lobster day is June 15, and if you haven't made any arrangements to celebrate just yet, we suggest enjoying a lobster roll. Whether its cool and creamy like they do it up in Maine, hot and buttery as preferred in Connecticut, or some variety no state has yet to claim (but should), these restaurants around the nation will have one waiting for us.
Dock and Roll Diner: Lobster rolls are the specialty at this South First Street trailer. Take a trip down memory lane with the Maine-style roll or branch out with new-school favorites like the Austin Roll with spicy Truth sauce or the Ninja roll with house hoisin and jalapeño-ginger-garlic sauce. Standout sides include lobster mac 'n' cheese and chicken-fried bacon. (1501 S. First St.; 512-924-1766)
Garbo's Lobster Truck
Owner Heidi Garbo flies in fresh Maine lobster daily, which makes her Maine- and Connecticut-style lobster rolls extraspecial. The truck wanders the town, servicing North Austin in particular. Look out for a brick-and-mortar restaurant coming soon, with an expanded menu of fried fish sandwiches, clams and steamed lobster as well as local craft beer. (See schedule for location; 512-350-9814)
Pauli's: There's nothing inherently creative about a lobster roll, but we have to give a nod to the North End sandwich slinger for upping the ante in a big, big way. Pauli's "USS Lobstitution" has been billed as New England's largest roll: a 24-oz., $50 behemoth that might be a little schticky—but when it comes to lobster, we can't help but believe that more is more. (65 Salem St.; 857-284-7064)
Red Lantern: Another Pan-Asian twist on the New England classic, Red Lantern's bao takes two pounds of lobster meat, coats it in Kewpie mayo (an umami-rich Japanese variety made using only egg yolks), and tops it with pea shoots on a toasted mantou bun. (39 Stanhope St.; 617-262-3900)
Acadia: Chef Ryan McCaskey’s Maine roots, and love of lobster, shine in one of the best renditions in the city (above). The rolls and lobsters, which are seasoned with chive mayo and a sprinkling of paprika, are imported from the East Coast. Housemade vinegar chips provide the perfect crunchy accompaniment. (1639 S. Wabash Ave.; 312-360-9500)
Bottlefork: The Rich Man Po’ Boy is a testament to elegance. Freshly boiled lobster is stuffed in a brioche roll with a generous slathering of foie gras, and then finished with crispy fried oysters. (441 N. Clark St.; 312-955-1900)
Hinoki & The Bird: One of the most unique lobster rolls in town is this stunner from Kuniko Yagi at the new Century City restaurant. The bun is made with charcoal, so it’s jet black with a bit of smoky flavor, and the lobster meat gets a bit of heat from curry, chiles and Thai basil. It’s a beautiful and delicious rendition that fits the chic and contemporary space, and now that Hinoki is open for lunch, we can see ourselves eating this on that great patio anytime. (10 Century Drive; 310-552-1200)
Petrossian: Per usual, the West Hollywood caviar house does not mess around with even something as everyday as a lobster roll. This is chock-full of delicacies - sweet lobster meat, sea urchin, caviar - plus a few other flavors like fennel, daikon, chives and parsley. You end up with pure decadence in a soft brioche bun. (321 N. Robertson Blvd.; 310-271-6300)
New York City
The Clam: Imagine eating a sandwich (above) containing both fried clams and a lobster roll—is your head exploding yet? Get down to the mollusk-devoted West Village eatery from Mike Price and Joey Campanaro and sample this thing firsthand. (420 Hudson St.; 212-242-7420)
North River Lobster Co.: This new former-cruise-ship-turned-floating-seafood-restaurant puts its take on the New England classic by mixing fresh poached Maine lobster with yuzu aïoli and serving it on a brioche roll with homemade coleslaw. (41st St. and the West Side Highway; 212-630-8831)
Happy Rooster: Chef Terry Cherry is putting out as many of these best-sellers as possible, but it’s not easy to keep up with demand for the lobster rolls at the longstanding Rittenhouse corner pub. The chef uses Maine lobster marinated a day in fresh lemon juice, then tossed with Hellmann’s mayo, celery, and pinch cayenne pepper. Served on a toasted, buttered bun, eating one is a favorite summer past time for Philadelphians. (118 S. 16th St.; 215-963-9311)
Ippolito's Seafood: This South Philly market has provided the city with fresh seafood since 1929, and there's also an in-house BYO restaurant, where you can score unorthodox lobster rolls - reimagined as tacos with chipotle remoulade, pineapple, and soft corn tortillas. (1300 Dickinson St.; 215-389-8906)
Ironside Fish & Oyster Bar: The lobster roll (above) cradles a crustacean that comes straight from the restaurant's tank. A squishy, housemade bun is slathered with a nutty brown-butter mayo, generous lobster chunks, chives and topped with crispy onions. The robust garlic aïoli on the side tastes great with the fries.
New England Lobster Company: Though we used to trek to a random industrial park location in South San Francisco for New England Lobster Company, this cheery, lobster-filled red truck has recently joined the Off the Grid rotation, so you can follow it all over town via Twitter or Facebook. The owners fly live lobsters directly from Maine and do both versions "dressed" with a light touch of mayo. Their "naked" butter version is our favorite. P.S. You might also want to try their crab nachos. (650-873-9000)
Old Port Lobster Shack: The folks at Old Port Lobster Shack used to also run the delightful, sadly closed Lobster Shack in North Beach. But you can still trek to a strip mall in Redwood City or Portola Valley for their delightful lobster rolls. Alongside New England microbrews and fried Ipswich clams, they do both versions: The Maine with mayo and green onions or The Naked with drawn butter. Better yet, order a Double Play and get one of each. (851 Veterans Blvd., Redwood City; 650-366-2400/3130 Alpine Road; 650-561-9500)
Fiola Mare: The fact that the “lobster roll” has quotes around it on the Georgetown spot’s lunch menu hints that it’s chef Fabio Trabocchi’s Italian spin on the New England classic. In it you’ll find quality Maine lobster, spicy Calabrese mayo, pickled cucumbers and basil all on a potato bun. And hey, there are water views. (3100 K St. NW; 202-628-0065)
Hank's Oyster Bar: For many, this lobster roll has long been the gold standard in DC, the place where a New Englander goes to feed the craving. It’s appropriately simple and not over-dressed, allowing the lobster meat to shine. Sure, they’re served with Old Bay fries, which is more of a Mid-Atlantic thing - but lobster rolls and their accompaniments don’t have to be 100% authentic to be delicious, in our view. (1624 Q St. NW, 202-462-4265; 633 Pennsylvania Ave. SE, 202-733-1971; 1026 King St., Alexandria, 703-739-4265)