Lobster rolls come in a few styles -- Maine, Connecticut and New England -- and you can find all three, plus many newer, chefy takes, in Boston. New England tradition technically dictates that the meat in lobster rolls be served chilled, with a light sluice of mayonnaise and an optional helping of greens like lettuce or celery. But in the middle ground between Connecticut (where lobster rolls come hot with melted butter) and Maine (where they come cold and Spartan on the mayo and toppings), the rules bend in Boston. Chefs all over Beantown serve up lobster rolls of all styles, on all manner of buns, with a variety of toppings and sides. Follow your heart to your preferred style, but if you’re lost among the crustaceans, start with a sampling of some of the city’s best.
Often cited among Boston’s best, the lobster roll at Neptune Oyster draws a crowd nearly every day. Be prepared to wait if you decide to try it for yourself, but you’ll be sure your time was well spent when you sit down to this massive heap of a roll. Go with the buttered Connecticut style (sold at market price) and try not to fill up on fries if you hope to finish the gargantuan lobster chunks and hearty roll.
63 Salem St # 1, Boston, MA 02113
The lobster at B&G is an absolute stunner, dotted with minced chives that really pop on Instagram. But this lobster’s beauty isn’t just shell-deep. The market-price roll features both claw and tail meat, along with mayo, diced celery, lemon juice, salt, and fresh cracked pepper. Plus it comes with both fries and pickles, which help cleanse the palate so you can better enjoy every bite of lobstery goodness.
550 Tremont St, Boston, MA 02116
Island Creek Oyster Bar
Owner Jeremy Sewall famously sources his lobster from his cousin up in Maine, ensuring his rolls come stacked with the freshest meat in town. But Sewall also upgrades his $32 roll in several other ways. He swaps the usual hot dog bun for house-made rosemary brioche, griddles the rolls to order, and folds creme fraiche in with the mayonnaise, all compelling arguments to place Island Creek’s roll at the top of your hit list. Slaw and chips come on the side.
500 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA 02215
James Hook & Co.
A stalwart among Boston’s young wippersnappers, the Hook family has been in the lobster business since 1925. They began as wholesale distributors, selling to Boston’s restaurants and shipping their catch all over the country. The crustaceans proved so popular the Hooks began selling their lobster in rolls down by the waterfront. Today that direct supply means James Hook & Co. can charge less for their lobsters, and their near century of experience in the biz means they know how to serve them well. The rolls are simple, served chilled with mayo, but both regular and large rolls clock in under $25.
15-17 Northern Ave, Boston, MA 02110
You can get your lobster any which way at this Seaport mainstay: chilled, hot and buttered, and even fried (don’t knock it until you try it). The rolls concentrate on claw and knuckle meat, and range in the reasonable $24-26 range, leaving you cash for a beer to wash down your meal.
300 Northern Ave, Boston, MA 02210
Alive & Kicking
For something entirely different, head to this Cambridge spot for a lobster sandwich. The meat comes lightly coated with mayo on slices of buttered Scali toast. It looks like something a dotting fisherman might fix for their kid back in the 19th century, and it’s entirely satisfying in a diner-meets-seafood shack kind of way. Pair it with one of the house-made sodas for a unique lobster experience.
269 Putnam Ave, Cambridge, MA 02139