Lobster Rolls

By Eric Twardzik
Neptune Oyster: Maine Lobster Roll (Hot)

Two compulsory ingredients, endlessly varying execution: This New England icon may be the most complicated simple dish in the world.

Diminutive North End icon Neptune Oyster serves what might be Boston’s most famous lobster roll, and scoring a seat in its marble-filled interior often means spending hours in line. It’s certainly hyped up—and completely worth it. Your patience will be rewarded with heaps of chunky meat on a grilled brioche bun, served either cold with mayo or warm with butter. For faster access, visit on a weekday afternoon or arrive before opening on a weekend.

Fort Point oyster palace Row 34 serves both varieties of roll in its airy, industrial-chic digs. Ethel’s Creamy Lobster—named for the chef’s grandmother—is the traditional cold mayo preparation, while the Warm Buttered Lobster Roll features steamed meat tossed in melted butter. Each is served on a traditional split-top bun, also grilled in butter (because why not). Snagging a reservation is competitive, but luckily both rolls can be found on the midday menu, giving you a chance to partake in lobster sans crowds.

Row 34’s slightly more upscale sister restaurant Island Creek Oyster Bar serves Ethel’s Lobster Roll (yep, same Ethel). But here it’s less traditional and more chef-driven: the cold mayo preparation also includes crème fraîche, and the sandwich comes on a rosemary roll. The lobster itself is sourced by chef Jeremy Sewall’s cousin Mark, who commands his own lobster boat in York Harbor, Maine.

Yankee Lobster Company

The no fuss, counter-service Seaport spot Yankee Lobster Company, which also sells live crustaceans, plays the field. You can have the traditional Lobster Roll, dressed in herb mayo and served cold, or the Hot Lobster, sautéed in butter and seasoned with a pinch of tarragon. Then there’s the Fried Lobster Roll, which may be anathema to purists (but they don’t have to know). A harbor-facing patio adds an extra degree of nautical-ness when it’s open in summertime.

Barbara Lynch’s B&G Oysters, a take on the New England raw bar, places the lobster roll front and center. She piles Maine lobster meat on a toasted hot dog bun with lemon mayo, celery, and a sprinkling of chives. Those feeling a little unorthodox can delight in the B.L.T. with Lobster—which is exactly what it sounds like. To top it all off, B&G’s backyard patio is one of the South End’s most idyllic dining spots.