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The Best Lobster Rolls In Boston, Ranked

High-end options, loaded hot dog buns from seafood shacks, and more of the best lobster rolls in Boston, ranked.
The Best Lobster Rolls In Boston, Ranked image

Lobster rolls are a New England institution, and you’d be wise to spend your summer (and the rest of the year) eating as many of them as humanly possible. And while you may think you need to hit a summer shack on the Cape or cruise down the coast in Maine to get a great version, you’re wrong. 

Boston covers the classics extremely well, with most of them served in the familiar styles: cold and tossed with mayonnaise (usually known as New England- or Maine-style), or poached warm and buttery (sometimes called Connecticut-style). We’ve tried just about all of them in town, even the wild innovations that sub the usual hot dog bun for bao and popovers, and we fully support any and all of these lobster delivery methods. 

Here are the best lobster rolls in Boston, ranked, for those of us that don’t want to be stuck on 95 outside of Ogunquit for hours.


THE ROLLS


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Seafood

Winthrop

$$$$Perfect For:Classic EstablishmentGetting Out Of TownLunchOutdoor/Patio SituationQuick EatsUnique Dining Experience
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The views at Belle Isle, which is just a few minutes out of the city, are matched only by the size of their overstuffed (and best-in-class) lobster rolls. You can choose a classic lobster meat roll or upgrade to an all-tail roll for a few bucks more—even though it’s over $40, this version is beyond worth it for how much meat you get.

Each is served with your choice of french fries, onion rings, coleslaw, or rice pilaf. This old-school joint also keeps their lobsters in the tank, which means they’re fresh from the ocean (and also watching you eat their friends, you monster). Remember to bring cash, because they don’t take cards, and even though there’s an ATM, it doesn’t always work.


At some point, you should eat your way through the menu at Neptune, as everything on it is excellent. But today, you’re here for lobster rolls. Grab a seat at the bar in this bistro with nautical vibes, and order a dozen oysters and an enormous Maine lobster roll, served hot or cold, on a sweet, buttery brioche roll. After doing this a few times, you have our permission to hit the rest of the menu in this bright, packed restaurant.


photo credit: Brianna Coleman

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One of the best spots for brunch in Boston also has one of the most unique takes on the classic lobster roll. At brunch only, fresh local lobster is mixed with crème fraîche, celery, and red onion, and then piled high on a warm, split New England popover. The giant muffin has a similar texture to a croissant, and you should use it to scoop all that sweet lobster meat while enjoying one of the best views in Boston.


photo credit: Brianna Coleman

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Your best friend from undergrad is in town for work. They want an excellent lobster roll, they want to hit somewhere kinda fancy, and they’re rolling with an expense account. This is the place you take them for a lunch or dinner lobster roll. First, get a couple of $15 caviar spoons, then feast on your massive $46 rolls.

The Banks offers both hot or cold—and for the price, we like the warm roll with butter, as the lobster doesn’t need much else—sitting in a crispy, brown buttery bun, served with housemade Old Bay chips. The warm roll comes with a little carafe of extra butter for pouring and dipping, and we’re always on board with giving lobster a little butter bath.


Boston does classic American Italian and seafood incredibly well, and Mare Oyster Bar is the best of both worlds. Mare’s lobster roll comes with a generous portion of claw meat that’s served hot or cold, and we love the buttery sweetness of the hot version. The lobster meat is served on a freshly baked brioche roll from Italian bakery and shop Bricco Panetteria and comes with crispy rosemary fries. The North End spot also has one of the best retractable roof deck situations in town, and we’re fairly sure lobster rolls always taste better on a roof deck.


Saltie Girl has always been ahead of the curve when it comes to seafood—they were one of the first spots in town to serve a tinned fish plate, and now they even have an LA location. They recently moved their whole Boston operation into a larger space, so you can actually get a table (without showing up at 5pm on a Tuesday) to eat their distinctly delicious roll. This is a roll that’s easy to love—it's topped with a white wine and butter sauce that’s seeped into the grilled split-top hot dog bun. The housemade salt and vinegar chips that come with it are great too.


The chef’s grandfather at Row 34 was a lobsterman, which we mention because they keep things super classic here—just cold meat tossed with mayonnaise, pickles, celery, lemon juice, celery salt, kosher salt, and pepper. They also do a hot roll drenched in butter, and both come with the typical slaw and chips. Both are great, and any lobster you eat in the industrial Boston Wharf Company textile warehouse space is going to satisfy your crustacean cravings. There’s also a Cambridge location if you don’t feel like crossing the river.


This simple seafood shack is the type of place where you read the board behind the counter and yell your order at the person manning the register. Everything is served on trays, and you might have to bus your own table before you sit down. None of that matters when you bite into the lobster roll, which is loaded with cold meat and little mayo, all on a grilled hot dog bun. The meat is exceedingly fresh, and the meat-to-bread ratio is perfect.


This brown butter and steamed bao is probably the least conventional roll on this list, but sometimes—like when the Sox finally broke the curse in 2004—traditions are meant to be broken. Come hungry, because this brown butter beauty is rich enough to buy property in the Back Bay, and you’ll want to have enough room to try the fish charcuterie board. The shop also adds a cold lobster roll during the summer months that includes mayo, dill, and lemon on a griddled steam bun. You can’t go wrong with either, but the brown butter version is like no other roll in town.

This Fenway favorite that originated in Portland, Maine also recently reopened with a full bar, chef’s counter, big comfy booths, and patio tables that make it great for any lobster-eating occasion.


Since 1951, this classic New England seafood shack has been a counter-service staple for seafood sandwiches, hot dogs, burgers, and ice cream. The lobster roll is served cold, with piles of sweet meat dressed in mayo on a toasted hot dog roll, and it usually rings up at about $26, which is pretty good value for how much meat you get. Grab a bag of chips and a coke, enjoy the water views, take a stroll around the old fort, and remember you didn’t have to leave the city for this.


Ever wish for a second stomach? Or a hollow leg where you could put all the extra food? That’s the feeling you’re going to have at Pauli’s. They do an insanely overstuffed sandwich that costs $99.99 called the USS Lobstitution with a whopping 28 ounces of lobster meat (that’s about a pound and a half), served on a sub roll and topped with a twist of lemon and mayo. It’s going to take all your lobster-eating superpowers to finish this, so you should know that they do smaller 14- or seven-ounce rolls that are almost half the price as the Lobstitution.


Strictly speaking, this is not a roll. But we’re not about to let bread-truthers boss us around—especially when this cold “lobster sandwich” that comes on toasted slices of white bread is as good as it is. This thing is all about that sweet fresh lobster meat, but the sandwich bread does a good job holding everything together, and provides a nice little crunch to go with the lobster meat and a smear of mayo. This is a pretty bare-bones, counter-service spot, but there is a nice little patio with picnic tables where you can chow down on your not-so-alive-and-kicking-anymore lobster roll.


ReelHouse is in one of Eastie’s newer buildings, right on the waterfront, and the views of the city are like no other. Go with the cold version of their lobster roll, which comes topped with butter, a nice mix of greens, and the usual toasted bun. Claim a space on the patio, where you can pair your roll with a few painkillers. There’s also a ReelHouse at Marina Bay in Quincy, with equally solid drinks and rolls.


This is not the same experience as a suburban Legal Seafoods, because, well, you’re not eating at a mall. However, no matter which location you’re at, the seafood at a Legal is always dependably fresh. Their spot in the Seaport takes it up a notch though, as Harborside is the restaurant chain’s three-story flagship location with a retractable roof deck. Get up to that top floor and get down with a half pound of Maine lobster served either warm and poached in butter or cold with lemon mayo, paired with french fries and coleslaw. Since it’s a New England institution, we’d suggest the cold version, kissed with that zingy lemon mayo.


Look, the name is a little ridiculous, but we can overlook the Boston-accented “lobstah” because this roll is absolutely worth feeling a little corny. What you’re getting here is a big serving of tender, fresh lobster on a big brioche bun with absolutely no shortage of butter. This shop is also a great fast stop if you want to grab and go, and they offer multiple sizes (six, to be exact) for when you just need more lobster.


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