Best lobster rolls in Chicago
New England Seafood Company's lobster roll ($17.95) turned out to be my favorite, and the kind of roll I grew up eating. There's the barest trace of mayo on the bun and a hefty sprinkling of paprika. A lemon wedge and cup of warm butter are served on the side, and I used both liberally. While the split-top bun cries out for a little more butter, the chilled lobster is so sweet, I'll give them a pass.
Chef and owner Ryan McCaskey spent summers in Maine, and it's clear the man has had good lobster rolls in his life. Take the meat: It's cool, perfectly cooked and lightly dressed with a little mayo and paprika, plus butter. And the bun: It comes in from Maine and it's warm and incredibly buttery. The whole roll is almost too buttery—it's the richest offering, for sure. But at $18, it's also one of the most affordable lobster rolls in Chicago.
The cheerful truck launched in the summer of 2015 and instantly began serving one of Chicago’s best lobster rolls, with sweet, tender lobster slicked with mayo and butter and served on a burger bun for easy eating. It's $15, and you can get it Happy, with traditional toppings, or Angry, by adding giardiniera. Half rolls are also available, so you can try each style.
I appreciate the lack of pretension with Shaw's excellent lobster roll ($29). Big chunks of sweet lobster are dressed with Hellman's mayo, mixed with celery and chives, and tucked into a housemade buttery bun. Get it in the main dining room during lunch or at the oyster bar at any time.
The lobster roll ($19) at the tiny fish market is an excellent version—there's just a hint of mayo to bind it all together, and lemon peel, cucumber, parsley and other herbs and spices are also added. The meat is served cold, but the bun is grilled in a ton of butter right in front of you. The result is glorious.
GT's lobster roll (sold at market price) perfects the meat to bun ratio (which doomed many of the other rolls I tried). The buttery bun is large enough to hold the sandwich together, but there's so much cool, well-seasoned lobster that it's still primarily what you're tasting. Add in celery for crunch and a variety of herbs and you've got a killer lobster roll.
The Gage's lobster roll ($23) is topped with fried onions, which I expected to immediately disqualify it. But the meat is chilled, bright and lemony (there's a grilled half lemon to squeeze over the roll), the bun is perfectly buttered, and the onions add more texture and salt. I had one with a housemade blueberry soda, and couldn't imagine a better lunch.
Luke's opened its first Chicago location in spring 2015, and they serve up a pretty solid lobster roll for $15. The meat is lightly dressed with both butter and mayonnaise, then sprinkled with spices, including thyme and celery salt, then tucked into a well-buttered bun. The meat is just a bit too cold, so let it sit for a few minutes before digging in.