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Pauli's
Photograph: Courtesy Pauli's

The best lobster rolls in Boston to try right now

These seafood-focused destinations all serve worthy interpretations of the beloved, hand-held local treat

Olivia Vanni
Written by
Olivia Vanni
&
Eric Grossman
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There's nothing more New England than a lobster roll, where this fresh shellfish caught right offshore is dressed to impress and eaten with none of the usual mess. Some of the best seafood restaurants in Boston offer this local delicacy—whether it's the classic variety made with just a touch of mayo and served on a humble hot dog bun, or one of the modern interpretations devised by our more creative chefs in town. If lobster just isn't your thing, there are plenty of other hand-held options, including the best burgers in Boston and the best pizza in Boston. And for even more, bunless lobster deliciousness, explore the best lobster dishes in Boston.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best restaurants in Boston

Lobster roll purveyors we love so much that we welcomed them into Time Out Market

  • Restaurants
  • Fenway/Kenmore

You’ll be cussing at the moon when forced to pick between the critically-lauded lobster rolls — served warm with lobster beurre rouge or cold with tarragon and grainy mustard mayo at Cusser’s, which began as a street-side takeout window at the Back Bay’s upscale Mooncusser Fish House. Chef Carolyn Johnson is inspired by the popular roast beef and seafood shacks that dot the North Shore, and her gourmet interpretations of comforting classics will forever change the way you view lobster rolls and sliced beef on a bun.

Best lobster rolls in Boston

  • Restaurants
  • Haymarket

For anyone who approaches lobster rolls with a “go big or go home” mentality, Pauli’s is the place for you. This North End sandwich shop is the home of the USS Lobstitution, a behemoth of a sandwich brimming with 25 whole ounces of knuckle and claw meat. If that boatload of food is simply too much for you to handle, Pauli’s also offers more manageable portions: a roll that weighs in at 7 ounces and a sub that’s 14 ounces. 

  • Restaurants
  • Back Bay

Simple and straightforward, Lobstah on a Roll specializes in just that. Both its Back Bay and South End locations allow folks to choose from three sizes of rolls: the 4-oz Bostonian, the 6-oz Standahd or the Two if by Sea, which crams a whole 12 ounces of sweet meat into a standard issue bun. If you’re visiting with friends, go for the Big Papi, a four-pack of the Standahd rolls. And for anyone in the market for a party sub-sized lobster roll, this eatery’s catering arm can do seafood sandwiches so big that they can feed up to 50 people.

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  • Restaurants
  • Seafood
  • Seaport District
  • price 3 of 4

At Row 34, the lobster rolls are just like what chef/owner Jeremy Sewall’s grandmother, Ethel, used to make. While the creamy, cold version of this classic is a must, especially for nostalgia's sake, the Seaport spot also serves the even more sinful warm roll. Grab the latter and you'll get a griddled roll packed with sweet lobster meat that's simply been dressed in melted butter and salt.

  • Restaurants
  • Back Bay

If you’re going to splurge on one of these sandwiches, why not go straight to the source? Luke’s Lobsters is a family-owned seafood business that was founded by third-generation lobsterman, Luke Holden, and sustainably sources these crustaceans from the waters of Maine. There are three storefronts throughout the city, each serving 4- or 6-ounces of fresh lobster meat stuffed into a regular, truffle butter or pesto roll.

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  • Restaurants
  • Seafood
  • North End
  • price 3 of 4

North End favorite Neptune Oyster is exemplary in its East Coast seafood preparations. Neptune’s lobster roll is one of the most celebrated, available either hot with butter, or cold with mayo, both served on a toasted brioche roll. Given that this tiny eatery is located in one of the busiest neighborhoods in town, you can expect a wait out the door for a marble-topped table or a seat at the bar.

  • Restaurants
  • Seafood
  • Fenway/Kenmore
  • price 2 of 4

This James Beard Award-winning, Portland-based restaurant is famous for its brown butter lobster roll. This singular treat features a bao-like bun, which soaks up all of the delicious dressing while perfectly complimenting the sweet Maine lobster meat. Since it opened its Fenway location, Eventide has been luring in gourmands to sample its unique take on the classic sandwich.

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  • Restaurants
  • Seafood
  • Back Bay
  • price 3 of 4

For eaters who might claim that they’ve tried it all when it comes to seafood, they might stand corrected, thanks to Saltie Girl. This Back Bay establishment always finds a way to reinvigorate the oceanic classics—and that includes its warm lobster roll, which is topped with beurre blanc and lobster roe. For those unbearably hot summer days, there’s also a refreshing cold version, kissed with mayo.

  • Restaurants
  • Seafood
  • Seaport District
  • price 2 of 4

Head to this Seaport mainstay for lobster rolls, fried clams, steamers, chowder and other classic seafood shack dishes. You'll find the classic hot and cold lobster rolls, but what really sets this place apart is its fried version. That's right, the kitchen fries pieces of fresh lobster and serves it on a bun. Purists may cringe at the thought, but more for you?

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  • Restaurants
  • French
  • South End
  • price 3 of 4

This South End spot serves its own version of a lobster roll that naturally has a French twist. Brasserie offers a pair of petite Maine lobster croissants, where these classic flaky pastries are filled with tender lobster, mixed with celery, tarragon, chives and just a touch of mayo. It’s a definite oui, oui.

  • Restaurants
  • Seafood
  • Waterfront
  • price 2 of 4

This no-frills seafood shack ships 50,000 pounds of lobster to restaurants and wholesale distributors around the country each day, so you know it's product is fresh and delicious. Served on a buttery roll and overflowing with meat, its lobster roll has just the right amount of mayo and seasonings. 

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  • Restaurants
  • Seafood
  • Seaport District
  • price 2 of 4

As the flagship location within the Legal Sea Foods empire, Legal Harborside offers three floors of different dining experiences, all with sweeping views of Boston Harbor. Grab a waterfront table out back and get your hands on a traditional warm or cold roll. As with all of Legal’s dishes, the seafood is remarkably fresh.

More destinations for seafood

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