Lobster is great by itself. Add some creamy mayo, and it tastes even better. Throw all of that into a warm, buttered, and grilled roll, you have the glorious lobster roll. The thing is, lobster rolls aren't cheap, and you don't want to waste $40 on an oversized bun filled with a tablespoon of limp shellfish. For something that's worth it, use this guide. From some classic hot/cold versions to a few sandwiches with unexpected ingredients, these are the best lobster rolls in NYC.
photo credit: The Mermaid Inn
The Mermaid Inn
A lot of Maine lobster rolls just have meat, mayo, and not much else. We appreciate simplicity, but those versions can come off as bland. That's not an issue at The Mermaid Inn. Here, fresh and tender lobster meat is mixed with minimal mayo, relatively big slices of celery, and a blend of salt, pepper, paprika, and onion powder. All of that is stuffed in a heavily buttered and toasted brioche bun (which is like a big, semi-soft crouton.) The fries on the side are the best ones on this list—like slightly well-done McDonald's fries, but with Old Bay seasoning.
Mary's Fish Camp has been around for over 20 years, and it's the first place that a lot of New Yorkers think of when they're looking for a lobster roll. That makes sense, because the lobster roll here is still one of the best. This sandwich is the most mayo-heavy version on this guide, and it comes with big chunks of meat, celery, and chives on a buttered Pepperidge Farm split top bun. You'll notice a pronounced amount of lemon in the lobster mixture as well. You can get crunchy shoestring fries on the side, but the creamy celery root slaw with red onions, capers, and chopped cornichons is a great alternative. The only downside is that the lobster roll is pricey (labeled with the dreaded "MP" on the menu). The price tag was $46 on a recent visit, and the sandwich isn't even that big. Still, we can't deny this lobster roll a place on this list.
This nautical-themed seafood shack in Greenpoint serves classic New England and Connecticut-style lobster rolls, but we tend to gravitate toward their Lobster Club Roll. It comes on a toasted, undersized bun with a big mound of well-dressed lobster recklessly spilling over the top, and it has two key additions: avocado and crispy bacon. Order one at the counter, along with a Bloody Mary (with lobster) or a Narragansett, and claim a picnic table on the sunny back patio.
Grand Banks is a restaurant on a boat, which seems like a perfectly appropriate place to eat a lobster roll. A buttered and griddled potato bun is stuffed with a generous amount of lobster salad that's almost as well-seasoned as the version at The Mermaid Inn. The mixture is pretty creamy and well-salted, and has little chunks of fennel instead of the typical pieces of chopped celery. The most unique ingredient is an emulsion made from dulse, which is a type of red seaweed. Note that you only get a handful of greens on the side, and if you want fries, they're extra.
We remember when Luke's was just a lonely little seafood shack in the East Village, but now they're all over the country (as well as in parts of Asia). The rolls here are for purists—what you'll mostly taste is unadorned lobster. The bread is buttered, but not too heavily, and you'll detect only a light swipe of mayo and just a trace of lemon butter. There's a dusting of secret seasoning too. (We think there's some oregano in there.) Luke's used to just serve a smaller sandwich with four ounces of lobster, but now you can (and should) get the bigger six-ounce version. If you're not in the mood for the classic roll, give one of their special varieties (e.g., truffle or spicy honey butter) a try.
The Fulton's lobster roll consists of plump, un-chopped portions of whole claw meat (which is more delicate than tail meat) in a soft and buttered potato bun. Their lobster salad has a good amount of salt as well as a little spice from Tabasco and black pepper, and the celery and gem lettuce provide a lot of crunch. On the side, you'll get house-made potato chips—dusted with malt vinegar powder—which have a texture that's somewhere between classic Lays and kettle cooked chips. This lobster roll is only available at lunch and brunch, so stop by on a nice afternoon and eat one on the outdoor patio at this upscale Seaport spot.
What stands out most about the lobster roll at this West Village seafood spot is the size. It's the biggest sandwich on this list. The bread is lined with thin, lightly-pickled cucumber slices, and the meat is dressed with a good amount of herb mayo with celery, chives, and a few sprigs of dill. The brioche roll from Balthazar, which is buttered and grilled, looks like it'll be on the hard side, but it's actually very soft. You can opt to get house chips or thick, stubby fries with Old Bay seasoning on the side. (Get the fries.)