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Sep 26, 2013 12:55 PM

Neptune Oyster Bar advice

I'm going to be in Boston this weekend. Bringing my parents there and really hope to eat a delicious hot lobster roll at Neptune Oyster Bar. I know that the wait will be absolutely insane on a weekend. Here are my questions, any advice is much appreciated!

1. Is lunch a better bet than dinner? Is there a good time to aim for?
2. Are there other restaurants in Boston that you would recommend for a hot lobster roll?
3. I have dinner restaurant alternatives for the North End. Not sure about lunch, though, any recommendations?

FYI we will be staying close to Island Creek Oyster Bar and may end up there either way.


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  1. 1. Lunch I find is the better time if timed correctly. Either an early or late lunch or an early dinner works best. So in other words off-times are best at Neptune.

    2. There are other very good Lobster Rolls around town, but for the version you are seeking (Hot) I think Neptune is hands down the best around.

    3. Lunch options in the North End: Regina's Pizza, Galleria Umberto and Salumeria Italiana are alternatives for a casual quick fall back lunch.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Matt H

      Off-hours are indeed the best time for Neptune Oyster, but the window can be very narrow on weekends. I've gone at 3pm, my usual weekday time, and gotten the last seat in the place. Had I not been by myself, I would have been looking at a 45-minute wait.

      Note that Galleria Umberto is not open on Sunday and often runs out of food well before its posted 3pm closing time. Lines can be long at Pizzeria Regina on weekends even at off-hours. Salumeria Italiana is a retail grocery / deli that makes a terrific sandwich, but you'll have to eat it somewhere else.

      1. re: MC Slim JB

        Been to Salumeria 100 times and never thought to order a sandwich. Do you have to grab your bread by the door and bring it up there or can you just tell the guy behind the counter what you want? What have you ordered there?

        1. re: ScotchandSirloin

          It's basically salumi and cheese on bread. You just tell them what you want on it.

          1. re: ScotchandSirloin

            I think its a fairly new thing for them. I think they resisted making custom sandwiches for a while due to the time involved.

            There was a hand printed menu at the counter today with an Italian, proscuitto/ mozz , tuna and a few more. Didn't try 1, just bought some items for a DIY.

            They used to pre make a bunch of prosciutto/mozz/basil on focaccia in the AM. Not a bad sandwich. Good if you needed a bunch and didn't want to custom order for everyone. good provisioning for fishing trips.

        2. re: Matt H

          We've had good luck going on Saturdays for an early lunch. Neptune opens at 11:30, and you can almost always be in the first seating if you are in line by 11:15.

          1. re: maestrette

            This is good advice. I live in the NE; if you arrive before noon, you should be OK. I recently was there at noon on a Saturday and walked right in. At 12:15 there was a wait.

        3. Curious: Why so focused on the hot lobster roll?

          1 Reply
          1. re: mkfisher

            Cold lobster rolls are much more common in NYC, I've had some good ones. I much prefer the hot lobster rolls, though (I like butter more than mayo) and a good one is nearly impossible to find here. I had the hot lobster roll at Neptune once before and it was heavenly.

          2. Neptune lines have been worse than ever lately. It seems like Neptune has made its way into some tour guide books and foreign tour routes. We were there a few weekends ago, and several customers were taking pictures of their food with DSLRS that would run me a few mortgage payments. We went at 3p and still had to wait an hour. if its nice on Sat, you can just leave your name and cell and walk around the North End. Set your expectations accordingly (90 minute wait) and you won't be disappointed. It is easy to kill some time in that neighborhood.

            7 Replies
            1. re: Gabatta

              great advice from gab. you could have alot of fun stopping at Modern Pastry on Hanover and splitting a sfogliadel (but maybe you can find those in nyc.)amongst you so you wouldn't fill up bef Neptune. I do also think that Regina's No.End is a very unique experience ( aside from the deliciousness of the pizza.) Next to the No. End, we also have the Greenway now, (and a brand new hand sculpted carousel!) with many things to stroll and take in.

              Just fyi, the majority seems to say that N.O's lobster roll and fried clams are better than ICOB. If you go to ICOB, their lobster roe pasta w/ lobster, chanterelles, shortrib is the thing i can never not order- along with the honey glazed biscuit.

              1. re: opinionatedchef

                I'd call the fried clam race between Neptune and ICOB a tie, both excellent. (I'm not all that jazzed by high-end lobster rolls.)

                I think Neptune has better clam chowder, and its jonnycake with smoked trout tartare is one of my favorite apps in town.


                1. re: MC Slim JB

                  i do not think that clam chowder has anyth going for it but i do love the jonnycake, and the vitello tonnato sandwich. miss it. haven't been in ages cuz of parking................
                  (p.s. i think 'tartare' necessitates raw, doesn't it?)

                  1. re: opinionatedchef

                    That's Neptune's usage, not mine, but it could be defended on the grounds of its cut and lack of heat cooking. Raw chopped fish is called a crudo there.


              2. re: Gabatta

                I think you're right that Neptune has gotten on some lists somewhere. I remember going there for lunch just over a year ago, maybe late Spring 2012, and strolling in just after noon, and the place was half-empty! Just today (mid-week!), I walked by at around 12:30 and there was a line! WTF!

              3. I don't know if the kitchen has changed, but a few years ago, they ordered their lobster daily as they just don't have the space to handle it. And they always ran out.

                One visit mid afternoon we ordered a roll and some clams and then the kitchen immediately 86'd lobster rolls. This was before dinner. The roll was dismal, the bottom of the barrel. They should have 86'd it before serving us.

                So my answer is, if that is what you want go early. Others might have more recent experience, the ordering may have changed, and they no longer routinely run out of lobster - I don't know.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Bellachefa

                  I concur Bella. My last warm lobster roll at Neptune will be my last. One of the worst things I've ever been served at any restaurant. Sickening to eat.

                2. The last time I tried to go for lunch it was about 2pm on a Thursday (over the summer, not sure if that makes a difference) and was quoted a 45 minute wait for 2 people (who were willing to sit at the bar). I think you just have to hope for the best, but be prepared to wait if you want to get in.