HOME > Chowhound > Greater Boston Area >


Best lobster roll AND New England chowder?

Would appreciate a recommendation to a one stop (or 2 stops within the same block) restaurant or dive to get really good lobster roll AND New England style chowder.

I live in LA near the water so I'm no stranger to seafood but would love to get to eat Boston's best lobster roll and a huge plus if the place offers great NE style chowder. I was suggested Neptune Oyster but some have said it's overpriced and overrated.

Oh, we will probably go for a very very early dinner, if that matters.

Thank you!

PS. Is Joanne Chang's Flour really a must visit??

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Welcome in advance, beignets. I am a big fan of Neptune but have often warned visitors away from the chowder which is very mediocre imo. Many posters have agreed w/ me while some like it. A recent visitor said that Island Creek Oyster Bar's chowder is comparable to the clam chowder at Hog Island in San Fran. I was blown away by Hog Island's product so maybe i should try the chowder at ICOB in my own hometown. IIRC, CH posts seem to have favored NO's lobster roll over that of ICOB. We love ICOB and their killer signature dish of Lobster Roe noodles w/ lobster, chanterelles, short rib and demi.

    Isn't LA the land of wonderful bakeries (and all things food?) My cookbooks would support that beflief! As to Flour, I def do not consider it an essential visit for anyone. She has pretty good croissant,but her cookies and many other things are just bad. But I am major critical of American bakeries with their mediocre products- the majority of which are cloyingly sweet, dry,and uninspired . While I am a big fan of Chang's restaurant, Myers+Chang, I would not send you to Flour. Unfortunately Boston does not have a great sweets bakery, but again, many CHs disagree w/ me.( If you have ever been to La Boulangerie on Pine at Filmore in San Fran, that is my definition of a great bakery.) For an interesting sweets experience while in Boston, I would point you to Modern Bakery in the No End, a 3 minute walk from NO. And I would specifically point you ONLY to their: sfogliadelle, "almond biscotti", torrone. and cannoli. But that's my take on the subject. We do have 3 wonderful bread bakeries: When Pigs Fly, Iggy's and Clearflour, and the latter 2 do have some wonderful non-bread bakery items. But none of these are located in central boston.

    3 Replies
    1. re: opinionatedchef

      I don't like Meyer's and Chang, but I do enjoy a lot of product from Flour including their carrot cake and their sandwiches.

      1. re: opinionatedchef

        Wow, thank you. I've jotted down the pastry items you mentioned. I was previously recommended Maria's but perhaps I'll get one of each from Maria's and Modern since they're closely situated and compare. You're right, I am a bit spoiled of baked goods out here but it sounds like these things are only-in-Boston which is exactly what I'm looking for. Thanks!

        1. re: opinionatedchef

          Le Boulange over Tartine? Had you ever been to Tartine in SF? Boston does have Mike's Pastry which some foodies like to diss because it is tourisy, but it holds its own on many fronts. I would personally take Mikes over Le Boulange but its kind of like apples to oranges. Tartine in SF is the best bakery I have ever been to.

          Btw Pigs Fly is from Maine - the bread is actually baked up there.

        2. Despite Legal Seafood getting a lot of negative posts here (sometimes for good reason), their chowder is one of the best. The Chestnut Hill location makes one of my favorite baked stuffed lobsters too. It's consistently good which I can't say for some of their other locations. It's stuffed not only with buttery Ritz cracker crumbs but LOTS of shrimp,and scallops in addition to lobster meat. For some reason, their Chestnut Hill location overall seems to have their act together whenever we've eaten there.

          3 Replies
          1. re: catsmeow

            I HATE Legal's chowder. I do love No Names Chowder. That and a stroll to Hooks for a lobster roll might work. Not a fan of Neptune's chowder or their bread choice for their lobster.

            1. re: catsmeow

              Yes, I had planned on going to Legal seafood but have gotten a lot of "don't bother" from both visitors and former Bostonians (a lot of you guys out here in Calif.)

              1. re: Beignets

                It depends on which one you go to. Some are horrible like the one at Copley Place and in Braintree. Chestnut Hill has been really good every time we go. I've only eaten at the one in the Prudential once and it was also good.

            2. Belle Isle Seafood, a real whole in the wall, not far from the airport, has one of the best lobster rolls in the area. I can't comment on their chowder though. It's a market with lots of dinner items to choose from. Seating is limited to a few stools around the window counter but if its a nice night, you can take food out back, sit on the rocks, and have a view of the city. I like the lobster pie.

              4 Replies
              1. re: chuck s

                Hmm... Belle Isle for rolls and Yankee lobster for chowder but they're on the opposite side of the airport with neptune in the middle... i do like the idea of watching the city for an hour, never did get a good look of Boston and this would be my 3rd time (first 2 don't count, I was in grade school). Thanks!

                1. re: Beignets

                  'watching boston' is a debatable 'attribute' from Belle Isle.Ugly rough, waaay off the beaten path.Lots of better places to watch Boston. just sayin', particularly since you've never been here before, as an adult.

                  1. re: opinionatedchef

                    I had the worst lobster roll imaginable at Belle Isle a few weeks ago. The new construction is doing nothing to make going there a pleasurable experience. To be fair, they were in the weeds when I went, and the chef yelled out, "Lower the price on lobster rolls $2 - no more tail meat" - after I had just picked mine up. "Phew," I thought. "Mine has tail meat." BUT NO - I paid the premium, AND had a roll that was soggy with the inside consisting of 3 claws and some milky mayo sog. What a downer. That and the construction and the 45-minute wait - I could've driven to Choate Bridge in Ipswich for the best lobster roll in Massachusetts. Bygones. I might consider Belle Isle after they've relocated. But for now - what a colossal nightmare. In their current discombobulated state I would avoid at all cost.

                    1. re: Small Plates

                      hmmmm..... good to know re: constructions ugliness and possible bad days at Belle Isle, maybe they're related. Thanks.

              2. Flour is great for their sticky buns, Belle Isle for a huge lobster roll in the rough, Island Creek for chowda.

                14 Replies
                1. re: treb

                  you think i'd regret not going to neptune's for the roll?

                  1. re: Beignets

                    Factor in parking. By the time to try find a parking space for Neptune, you'd be at Belle Isle. It's not that far.

                    1. re: treb

                      Drive to Ipswich. THE best lobster roll and fried clams around. Clam Box is a fav on this board (but there is a long wait). Ipswich locals love Choate Bridge Pub, and so do I. Excellent lobster roll for $14.95.

                      1. re: Small Plates

                        I heard about Clam Box! but if it requires driving, we might not be able to.

                        1. re: Small Plates

                          FYI, last Thurs, I went to the Clam Box at about 2:30 and unfortunately had to wait for them to change the oil but had my food by 2:55. We were 6th in line and they took orders while the order was being changed so they could start working on them when they started cooking again. I think the key is to go mid afternoon during the week.

                        2. re: treb

                          by the time you find a parking place for Neptune, you'd be in Canada.

                          1. re: treb

                            It's a good thing it's close to a T stop, then. No need to park.

                            1. re: treb

                              We won't be driving. Cab or if I'm brave, public transportation.

                              1. re: Beignets

                                The 'T', public trans, is fine just don't make any eye contact.

                                1. re: Beignets

                                  All you need for the subway is $2.50 and the ability to read, no bravery required.Thousands of people of all ages use it as a primary means of transportation every day.

                                  I really do think the food at Neptune is very good, but I refuse to put up with lines and I don't like to eat there when it's packed. As a tourist you may have the luxury of eating at an off-hour (like a late weekday lunch), which is what I recommend. The North End is quite different than any neighborhood in L.A., so you may appreciate it for that aspect as well.

                                  1. re: LeoLioness

                                    yeah, i'm leaning more and more towards neptune. it seems to make sense with maria's and modern close by. i don't know if they allow take out, neptune that is. i guess i could call.

                                    i gotta figure out logan to north end transport. I got this:

                                    Mp33 - Massport Shuttle - Airport Station - Terminals
                                    Depart from Terminal C
                                    Arrive at Airport Station (Mp-Shuttle)

                                    Take Blue Line - Bowdoin To Aquarium Station view route
                                    Depart from Airport Station - Blue Line Inbound
                                    Arrive at Aquarium Station - Inbound

                                    1. re: Beignets

                                      Logan to North End is dead easy: shuttle bus from terminal to Blue Line Airport station; Blue Line inbound to Government Center. The North End is roughly 5 minutes' walk from Government Center.

                                      1. re: Beignets

                                        The Blue Line does get you closer to the North End at the Aquarium stop, but check out the Silver line as well.. that picks you right up at the terminals and takes the Ted Williams, then through an underground passage to drop you at South Station (where you can get a nice grilled cheese sandwich..). The Silver Line is probably a better option for getting back to the airport as well..

                            2. ICOB's chowder is great but their lobster roll is meh. I like my lobster rolls with large chunks of lobster, a dab of amyo and maybe some celery on a plain roll. theirs has rather finely chopped lobster meat with celery and fennel (yuck) on a rosemary brioche bun. Too much bun, not enough lobster. Their oysters rock the house if that interests you.

                              Legal's chowder has descended into being "just ok" to me. Used to be good. Their lobster riolls look like cat food.

                              1 Reply
                              1. Neptune's lobster roll is good but too expensive.
                                Legal makes their chowder at a central commissary and ships it in plastic bags to their rests.

                                Yankee lobster has great lobster roll and the chowder which is made several times during the day, is the best.
                                Flour is a must and has some great soups and sandwiches.

                                13 Replies
                                1. re: libertywharf

                                  Who do you think have a better lobster roll: Belle Isle or Yankee Lobster? they're located opposite sides.

                                  1. re: Beignets

                                    Last week a visitor compared the NO lobster roll w/ that at Yankee and she preferred the latter, so if you don't do NO ,given what liberty said about the chowdah, i would suggest YL, and it is a heck of a lot easier to get to and a lot closer to the North End, than is BI.

                                    1. re: opinionatedchef

                                      as another voice i will repeat myself and claim that Neptune is crowded, overpriced and has an attitude that i can only descibe as insufferable. if thats your kettle of fish, (ha!) so be it.

                                      i find Morse's fish in the south end, charmless, cheap, quite good and in a historically interesting neighborhood, and spend the money you save having drinks at the Gallows pub nearby. (the above mentioned myers and chang is about 1/4 mile away on the same street.)

                                      1. re: hyde

                                        I don't prefer attitude but I can handle that "i'm too good to be a waiter" attitude being from LA and its 70% of waitstaff are aspiring actors/actresses.

                                        I wonder if NO allows take out. Maybe we'd just grab rolls and sit elsewhere within walking distance.

                                    2. re: Beignets

                                      Belle Isle is much superior to Yankee IMO.

                                      Belle Isle is my favorite roll in the immediate area, however as a visitor looking for a roll and chowder you really can't miss with Neptune: excellent roll and chowder, other great options on the menu to supplement, beer and wine, nice neighborhood to check out. Since you are going early, the wait shouldn't be too much of an issue. The downsides, as Hyde points out, it is a bit pricey and the some of the staff can be jerks (however my last lunch experience there was much better).

                                      I'm not sure what you are looking for from the bakery, but I definitely wouldn't say Flour is a can't miss. As a visitor I wouldn't go out of my way to go there. If you give some more detail about what you like in that regard, you will get many suggestions on this board. My favorite bakery in the area is Clear Flour (different place than Flour all together) in Brookline, but they don't have any tables and are a true bakery (no sandwiches, etc).

                                      1. re: Gabatta

                                        Gabatta: the Clear Flour sandwiches experience is easily obtained.

                                        1. Go to Clear Flour and pick up your bread/roll/ciabatta/baguette.etc. of choice, as well as something sweet for afters.
                                        2. Go to the deli two doors down, hand them the bread and have them build sandwiches to your specs on it. (They have a sign on the deli case that they'll do this, they won't be surprised or offended.) Pick up drinks, sides, etc. while they're making the sandwiches.
                                        3. Sit in the park around the corner and enjoy.

                                          1. re: Infomaniac

                                            If it weren't for my fondness for the bahn mi at PhoViet, which happens to be directly in my path between home and that park (where I often go to work on days too nice to be cooped up in the office), I'd do that two-step lunch even more often than I do!

                                          2. re: Jenny Ondioline

                                            I never even noticed the deli, but will definitely try that out. Thanks!

                                            1. re: Gabatta

                                              The convenience store on the other side of the laundromat is under new ownership and much renovated; one of the things they added was a small but well-stocked deli counter.

                                            2. re: Jenny Ondioline

                                              I really wish we're staying around Boston longer. Alas, it'd only be after we land at around 3pm until evening. So only 2 meals at maximum.

                                            3. re: Gabatta

                                              RE: BI vs YL. ahhh... it's almost like it depends on who you ask!

                                              Yeah maybe NO if they allow take out so we don't have to deal with the crowd for too long.

                                              I would like to get pastry items that I'd have a hard time getting in LA. There are a lot of superior bakeries here and a good bread isn't hard to get. Opinionated chefs mentioned some Italian pastries that maybe would only be available in some Italian delis here in LA but they're also not too common so I'm thinking of trying those, or boxing it and take to hotel.

                                              1. re: Beignets

                                                Try Modern Bakery in the Northend.

                                        1. Grab chowder at the bar at Legal near the Aquarium and walk a couple blocks to Hook's for a large toasted Lobster Roll? Not the best of either, but pretty much quintessential Boston Chowder and Lobster Rolls.

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: ScotchandSirloin

                                            thanks! i'll figure out the location from Logan and keep it in mind.

                                            1. re: Beignets

                                              There's also a Legals at Logan. I'm not sure which terminal but that might be a way to get another chowder in. I think I saw it where American is.

                                          2. There's a guy with this great blog about noodles and other foods. He spends a lot of time in the Far East, especially all over Japan and he has this "thing" about going up to complete stangers and asking for the best Ramen Noodles around! I love his reports and picks.

                                            Now, I'm not sure I'd trust your average Bostonian on your quest (and I used to be one!), but it might be kind of fun to see what answers you'd get. I know when I travel and want a good simple lunch - like a burger or sandwich - I look for a traffic cop or better still - a fireman for local suggestions. Never once been steered wrong - although have had a few strange looks at first!

                                            You might also want to read the debate going on over here:


                                            Some use butter, some mayo, make sure you know ahead of time

                                            6 Replies
                                            1. re: FriedClamFanatic

                                              maybe if I can't decide by the time I'm about to land I'll take a survey of 5 Bostonians in the plane and whichever place gets the most mention, we'll just go there!

                                              I think I want to go for hot lobster roll. The ones from out here and SF are usually cold.

                                              1. re: Beignets

                                                If you want a hot roll that answers your question. Definitely go to Neptune. They have both a cold roll and a hit buttered roll. Most other options will be a cold roll.

                                                If you mentiion chowder your average plane seatmate will likely steer you to Legals. That is not advice to be heeded.

                                                1. re: Gabatta

                                                  I recently overheard a T employee advising some tourists to go to the Union Oyster House and it was all I could do to rush over and break up that conversation! Alas, my train was coming.

                                                  1. re: LeoLioness

                                                    If you sit at the bar and order oysters and a cold beer, the Union Oyster House can be a fun Boston experience.

                                                  2. re: Gabatta

                                                    I wonder if natives sort of just steer tourists to touristy spots. i'm guilty of doing that here... unless it sounds like the person is pretty knowledgeable to what he/she wants. otherwise, it just seems easier to suggest places tourists like.