Words: Mallory Legg
Each state, for the most part, has a niche… a department in which it excels, a selling point to encourage visitors or a platform in which it can bolster its own economy and reputation. For Colorado, it’s snow sports. For Louisiana, the jazz. For Wisconsin, cheese. But in my humble and grounded opinion, nothing comes close to Maine and its lobster. Just take a simple drive up the coast past roadside stops and coastal towns enveloped in crisp, clean air, pushed along by salt and pine breezes. I might be partial in proclaiming it, but Maine might just be the state that triumphs all states; at least when the competition is in unpretentious beauty and unassuming food (a substantial amount of fresh lobster hugged in a buttery toasted bun, by the sea). Let’s talk about it.
You can't start a discussion on the best Maine lobster rolls without the mention of Wiscassets Red’s Eats. Its traffic-stopping lines snaking through the streets and pavements of the otherwise serene waterfront town indicates greatness. After all, it is amongst the most written-about restaurants the state has to offer. What sets Red’s aside from the rest is its perfectly dressed lobster meat, the size and, unfortunately, the price. What tourists don't know, is that across the street you might find a similarly outstanding order without the comparatively exorbitant prices, extensive lines and unattainable expectations.
Spragues lobster, as aforementioned, is a stone's throw away from the iconic Red Eats. But Sprague’s, to this Mainer, is superior. In a perfectly warm and buttery bun, you will receive every part of the lobster. Claws and tail, intact and lightly dressed with only the fresh quality of the meat to sustain its excellent impression. With fries on the side and a Barg’s rootbeer to wash it all down, there is only one other thing that might give it the final push that excels Sprague’s past its notorious competitor. The deck, the view, the oceanfront seating. What's a lobster roll without the archetypal Maine shore?
Photo: Lindsay Eats
I stumbled upon The Fishnet this summer, a roadside stop on Maine Street in Blue Hill. I’d probably driven by it countless times but this time, I had a hungry stomach and was carrying a passenger who had never been graced with the gift of a lobster roll. Long story short, the lobster roll was amazing, the best way to describe it would be ‘classic’ with extra points for an impeccable mayo to lobster ratio. But it was a certain something else that is pressing me to include them in this article; maybe the fact that they served me what I argue to be the best sandwich I have ever had. A crabcake BLT. The crab, warm and buttery and holding its flavour perfectly whilst also melting in your mouth, plus the crisp tomato and lettuce; a perfect accompaniment to a summer day. And in perfectly toasted white bread with perfectly salty american bacon. I urge you to drive up the coast to Blue Hill, perhaps on the way to Acadia National Park, to try this glorious sandwich.
Five Islands Lobster Co.
My whole life, there has been a constant, recurring scene: pulling our whaler through the fog, docking, and walking up the ramp to wait in line for a lobster roll with a side of chicken tenders at Five Islands Lobster Co. This place is truly sacred. Surrounding your picnic tables are the lobster boats and traps that your meal was just plucked from. The distant sound of seagulls, the cool sea breeze and the inevitable cup of moose tracks ice cream that you'll grant yourself. Five Islands is the quintessential Maine lobster joint, the blueprint for authenticity along the coast, and some of the freshest Lobster you might have the fortune of tasting.
Photo: The Spice Odyssey
Jordan Pond House
In general, Jordan Pond House is one of the best places you can get lunch north of Portland. To me, it's a classic Maine menu, highlighting the comforting diet that has stemmed from the cosy weather of the state whilst maintaining a light feel that won’t weigh you down once you’re done eating. Many of the spots on the menu are devoted to seafood, and rightly so. With over five different ways to eat your lobster including in the popover that Jordan Pond House is famous for, they’re a shoe-in for the best representation of a Maine lobster dish.