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Best lobster rolls in Camden, Boothbay Harbor and Portland, Maine?

Heading to Maine for the first time from NYC and want to try a ton of lobster rolls. Where are the best in these 3 cities? Also, any other dining recommendations in any of these towns will be appreciated - already have a reservation at Fore St. in Portland.

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  1. Camden itself doesn't have much for lobster rolls, but if you drive down to South Thomaston there is a place on the shore that won a Beard award a few years back, and they are very good. Also if driving from Portland up route 1, don't miss Red's Eats in Wiscassett.

    15 Replies
    1. re: nico108

      Camden has the Bayview right on the dock in the center of town. With a great place like that you don't need another. It is truly the best I have experienced, offers a pleasant view of the harbor and is a must stop for us whenever in the area. In contrast with lobster pounds mentioned often on this site, the seating is comfortable as opposed to being on an insect center where eating fast is necessary to avoid BEING devoured instead of devouring (ie lobster). As for Red's, I disagree as to its being a must stop. Higher that usual prices and looooong lines turn me off. For more formal dining in Wiscasett, I seek out La Garage also on the water overlooking the Sheepscott River.

      1. re: feelinpeckish

        Sorry to disagree, but if you are doing a lobster roll hunt you MUST try red's. yes, long lines and fumes from standing and waiting in the sun on rt. 1, but man, those giant, fresh luscious, delicious, melt in your mouth lobster rolls really can't be beat. my wife was born and raised in maine (in fact, only a few miles from red's) and i will say, the maine lobstah experts all seem to agree on Red's superior product. now Le Garage, that is some seriously mediocre food... Sea Basket and Sarah's are each much better, imho... as usual, YMMV. enjoy- fb

        1. re: frankbooth

          Frankbooth: You stand in line for a hour to get a lobster, and I will wave to you from the air conditioned car as I drive by on Route 1. I bet you own RED'S ! Have a wonderful summer, and don't eat too much lobster, because it causes GOUT (uric acid).

          1. re: irwin

            I have never waited at reds more then 10-15 minutes.

          2. re: frankbooth

            Frank, Frank, I gotta admire your dogged advocacy for Red's but it's all starting to feel like we're stuck in "Ground Hog Day"! "the Maine lobstah "experts" (italics, mine) all seem to agree on Red's superior product." Were is that written and who are those experts? I see a lot of people from "away" who rave about it. The same people who'll stand in endless line while backing up traffic, But there is certainly no unanimity of opinion among Mainers. Some of them really like Red's and some of them don't. I'm expecting at least six more threads this summer on this exact same theme. Hopefully, I'll have the fortitude to not join in but I doubt it.

            Aside to hargau; please tell what time you arrive at Red's because I'd go more often myself if it was only a 10-15 minutes wait. Seriously, it's not that I dislike the product. I do, but it's not the interminable wait that I and others have experienced.

            1. re: Harp00n

              Usually evening hours during the week. Sure on a sunny weekend day the lines can be long, i dont know how long as i dont stop then. We have a house nearby so i drive by often in the course of a week there.

              Im not a big lobster roll fan, i prefer my lobsters in the shell bought from the lobstermen. I almost always get the haddock sandwich at Reds. It is excellent.

              1. re: hargau

                Hi hargau
                Thanks for the "insider's" tip and I'll definitely keep it in mind. But unless I've been Down East and heading toward South Harpswell that's too much of a schlep going in the other diection. And going by too many other good options as well.
                All the best, Harp00n

                1. re: Harp00n

                  Also I guess i tend to go on Sunday or Monday as well as those are days the Sea Basket is closed.

                  1. re: hargau

                    Frankbooth, you & I can all certainly agree on the Sea Basket's sterling rep. If they'd use a traditional split-top J.J. Nissen roll they'd be my first option for the immediate area in the dreaded lobstah roll wars.

                    1. re: Harp00n

                      On a tip 2 years ago we had the lobster roll at the shack just across route 1 from Reds. Right on the water.Toasted bun, warm moist meat and plenty of it and a drop of mayo. Heaven on a bun. I don't recall the name . Was that the Sea Basket? In any case, a perfect roll, no line and right on the bay. Better than Reds and just about the same price.

                      1. re: gashrink

                        You might be thinking of Sarah's Cafe. I haven't been there, he said with much chagrin. but it has many favorable reviews on this board. I havn't gone there for the same reason I don't go to Red's very often. It's a zoo in the area whenever I'm there, it seems. I do have to get there eventually :-) The Sea Basket is about 1.5 miles further down Rte.1 from Red's As has been chronicled by many on this board, they offer uniformly excellent food & service. Their lobster rolls are excellent and would be even better if they served them on a traditional Nissen-style roll. The odd choice of using a hard (kaiser style?) roll detracts but only slightly.

                        1. re: Harp00n

                          Nah its not Sarah's I know the place he is talking about but cant recall the name. Its closer to the bridge then sarahs, practically on the water. ORiginally i think it was just a truck or trailer but it seems to have grown in recent years.

                          1. re: hargau

                            Thanks for straightening that out hargau, I wasn't sure.

                            1. re: hargau

                              Yes that's right just a small box with tables outside just before the bridge.
                              Maybe my wife remembers the name.

          3. re: nico108

            The James Beard's winner would be Waterman's Beach Lobster and it is still excellent.

          4. I heartily agree with the comments about Le Garage in Wiscasset; the best thing about the place is the view. I was in Wiscasset last week and happened to try a lobster roll at Sarah's and was extremely pleased. It was chock full of lobster, with mayo (which I like sometimes and sometimes I don't) on an excellent homemade lobster-type roll. At $14.95 it was one of the best l.rolls I've had around here. My husband and I often go to Waterman's Beach (in South Thomaston) per nico108's comments, with a bottle of Vinho Verde, but I'm not sure if they're open yet, and when they are open for the season, they are now only open from Thurs to Sun. One other place we often go is also in South Thomaston: it's the Keag store (pronounced "Gig") right at the bend in Rte 73 by the inlet. Excellent roll in two sizes: they come on these hamburger type buns that they have specially made for them. Again, lots of mayo, but very good and not too $$. The Keag store is where you'll find the locals.

            1. For some non-lobster roll dining in the Camden, Rockport, Rockland area check out these recent posts. There's some mighty fine eats between Camden and Rockland. If you like upscale places like Fore Street then you will love Francines, Primo, etc.

              http://www.chowhound.com/topics/408962

              http://www.chowhound.com/topics/394200

              http://www.chowhound.com/topics/383136

              1. If you're trying a ton of lobster rolls, try a crab roll. Maine crab meat is sweet and tender and very under valued, in my opinion. We've picked crabs and it is a ton of work to get enough for one crab roll, it should be much more expensive. Personally, I think a lobster roll is a waste of a good steamed lobster but a crab roll - now that's something special. And The Keag Store is my favourite.

                7 Replies
                1. re: crawfish

                  Perfect and correct. What I don't like about Red's and other seafood shacks in the" little Boston" area of Maine is the cost. In Washington County it is still possible to find a lobster roll for 6 bucks and a crab roll for five. And don't forget the lyrics of the of the Wicked Good Band song: " I don't want no burgers. I don't want no Spam. I don't care if it's boiled or fried, just give me a big friggin' clam!" The fried clam roll is also proof that God exists.

                  1. re: Passadumkeg

                    Passadumkeg,
                    My old man used to lay out a mess of crabs on top of yesterdays paper on the camp's porch table. He'd be watchin' the Sox and pickin', pickin' away at that pile and taking a swig of his Ballantine ale every now and again. 'Tis the reason that I love a nice, succulently sweet crab roll; all that goodness and none of all that *&#*'in work!

                    Btw, don't be knockin' Spam, it's a major food group unto itself. And one of it's crowning culinary achievements is Spam Musubi aka Spam as Sushi! Feast your eyes on all that goodness :-))
                    Harp00n

                     
                    1. re: Harp00n

                      We just got back from camp on Tunk Lake. My b-day. Had Lobster Benedict for breakfast at Chester Pike's Galley on Rt. 1 in Sullivan. A great local place. At camp went fishing and got a 27 in. salmon and a 25 in. togue. Had lobster and a hod of clams on our dock, went swimmin' to find a stuck brand new lure. and had crab rolls and beer, watching the sunset, just before we left. I'm lucky that life should be so good.
                      Spam, on the other hand, is another story. I used to use it for target practice w/ my .45 in Nam. I preferred VC chow that was still sometimes warm. The only c-rations I still remember with the least affection were the canned pears and peaches.
                      Now crab meat. On North Haven I had unlimited free access to crabs. My wife and I used to sit around the newspaper covered kitchen table, after we had put the kids to bed, with a bottle of white wine, a paring knife and a short 2x4 and hammer and pick crab meat. We'd fill the freezer freezer with baggies of crab meat for the winter.
                      My old man looked like Paul Newman and was as much a scoundrel. He got lobster shorts by the dozen. "Nuff said on that one. He was one hell of a chow hound and a blue collar philosopher. "You can tell how crazy a man is by the number of keys on his key chain." He used to take fresh herring to my grandmother Thursdays to marinate. My right of passage was when I was invited down in my grandfather's cellar with the men to grate 300 lbs of cabbage on a mandolin for the winter's kapusta(saurkraut) and drink beer w/ my grand father, uncles and father.

                      1. re: Passadumkeg

                        A Registered Maine Guide and you won't burn some Spam for The Sports? I want my money back! I'd wish you a belated happy birthday Mark but it's obvious that you most certainly did! I've fished Tunk a time or two but size does matter so I won't go there. Amazing what you can catch with garden hackle (wurmz), eh? For others that might read these posts Togue is the proper name for Lake Trout and not to be confused with Splake. Btw, did they both still have the hatchery tags on those well-rounded fins? I'll have to check out Pike's. It definitely sounds like my kinda place. Finally, your Old Man sounds like he was one hell of guy! I'm picturing Newman in "Nobody's Fool", an under-appreciated gem. Less keys are better, I hope.

                        1. re: Harp00n

                          God, I hate Spam! I'd rather lose business than use it. One must have standards. On my 3 day kayak trips for dinner I usually cook a salmon coconut Thai curry and Maine crab meat over roasted sweet peppers over pasta. Breakfast is Quebecois ployes(buckwheat pancakes) w/ blue berries &maple syrup or bagels and smoked salmon. I'm blitzed; time for bed. A great day.
                          Con la via bien,
                          Mark
                          ps Our camp on Tunk is about 1/2 mi on the left from the public boat launch on Rt. 182, w/ the grey float in front. In Ellsworth, we live 150 yds from the bay, good clamming, musseling and fishin' and deer, turkey and grouse hunting behind the house and good mushroom picking. Everything has been a joy since Nam, thank the Gods.
                          Mark
                          pps no tags

                          1. re: Passadumkeg

                            Great stories, you guys!

                      2. re: Harp00n

                        One of the most repulsive meals I've ever seen in my life was visiting our son in Seoul. He took us to a great, cheap, workers' stir fry place where the wok is nestled on a 55 gal drum which forms a circular table at which to "chef" prepares your meal. I asked David what the guys at the next table were eating. He called it camp something or other, but the crux of the matter was that the meat protein consisted of Vienna sausages, hot dogs and, you guessed it, Spam! The most Spam per capita is eaten in the UK and Hawaii. Another example of the evil the US military inflicts upon the world.
                        By comparison, the live baby octopus and the dog roast in our honor at my daughter-in-law's family farm were stellar.
                        And speaking of crab, having a whole king crab plopped down in front you at the Seoul fish market was as we say in the vernacular, "wicked good"!

                  2. Had to share this with all you lobsta roll freaks.......

                    'Lobster Lover's Lust'......check out the picture $33.99 at the "Bull and claw" www.bullnclaw.com

                     
                    1 Reply
                    1. re: othervoice

                      That's funny othervoice, I was doing a little Googling last week and came across that two-footer (Porn!) If you search for this at eGullet's "eG forums The Best: Lobster Rolls" you'll be treated to three pages of "Lobster Lust/Porn!" Enjoy!

                    2. In Portland, J's Oyster is the place to go for a lobster roll. It's right down on Commercial street, by the ferry terminal. Although, fair warning it's not the place to go for charming atmosphere.