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lobster roll
Photograph: Noah Devereaux

The 10 best lobster rolls in NYC

While maybe better known for pizza and bagels, NYC offers a landscape of lobster rolls that even a New Englander could love.

Edited by
Will Gleason
Written by
Time Out New York contributors
&
Victoria Marin
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Years after Rebecca Charles pushed the first Manhattan lobster roll across the marble counter at Pearl Oyster Bar, the sandwich has become a local staple, a crustacean-filled highlight among things to do in the summer in New York. From no-frills sandwich shops to the city’s best seafood restaurants, these are the best lobster rolls in NYC.

Best lobster rolls in NYC

  • Restaurants
  • Seafood
  • Greenpoint
  • price 1 of 4

Vincent Milburn and Adam Geringer-Dunn source only seasonal and sustainable—and sometimes local—catch like wild Alaskan salmon and Arctic char at the retail counter inside their Brooklyn fish market-eatery. They put those fresh goods to use in dishes like this exemplary lobster roll, now exclusively available at neighboring Threes Brewing Greenpoint and The Hugh food court in Midtown (the fish market no longer offers prepared food): Hand-picked, hyperfresh lobster meat is served either Maine (with mayo) or Connecticut (with butter) style, some celery and tarragon for texture, and Maldon sea salt and a spritz of lemon for taste inside a split-top Balthazar bun. It's served with salad or fries and a house-made pickle, but what you'll really want is a second roll. $30.

  • Restaurants
  • Seafood
  • West Village
  • price 2 of 4

Inspired by childhood summers in Kennebunkport, Maine, Rebecca Charles opened her West Village restaurant in 1997, practically launching “New England seafood” as a restaurant category in New York. Twenty five years later, her lobster roll is still a knockout. She griddles the top-loading bun to give it a beautiful, browned crunch. It’s practically flattened under the weight of a heaping mound of home-cooked lobster salad: The huge chunks of the crustacean­—boosted with a slick of Hellmann’s mayonnaise and enlivened with lemon juice and chive—taste of pure ocean. Market price.

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  • Restaurants
  • Seafood
  • Red Hook
  • price 2 of 4

At the 2009 Brooklyn Flea, Susan Povich and her husband, Ralph Gorham, became the first to bring the lobster roll—already popular at full-service restaurants like Pearl Oyster Bar and Mary’s Fish Camp—to the streets of New York. Today the couple still operates that weekend market stand, plus a shop in Red Hook, a dine-in location in Manhattan and roving trucks in NYC. Their unadulterated Maine lobster roll showcases improbably perfect claw and knuckle pieces. The tender meat is kissed with mayonnaise, zipped up with scallion and paprika and deposited on crisp shredded lettuce in a buttery bun. $32.

  • Restaurants
  • Seafood
  • East Village
  • price 2 of 4

Maine native Luke Holden—who trapped lobsters throughout his childhood summers in Kettle Cove, Maine—and partner Ben Conniff now operate multiple locations, plus a roving food truck, for their growing seafood empire. Holden’s story is now a part of NYC lobster lore: The real-estate investment banker gave up a promising financial career to start a lobster roll business with his pops, Jeff, who sources the picked and cooked crustaceans directly from Maine fisherman. For his simple roll, Holden sprinkles the meat with a proprietary seasoning blend, flavored with celery salt and oregano, along with lemony butter. It’s stuffed with a smidgen of mayo in a golden-toasted New England–style bun from Country Kitchen in Lewiston, Maine. $23 (4 oz) $34 (6 oz).

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This may sound like heresy to a lobster roll purist, but if you’ve gotten this far, hear us out: there is something just divine about the blend of succulent, meaty lobster and tender, buttery crab, served warm and drenched in garlic and umami on a soft potato roll. There are a half dozen or so additional sauces – wasabi mayo, chipotle sauce, etc – that are well worth the splurge ($.50 each) if you want to take things up a notch. $25.

  • Restaurants
  • Seafood
  • Tribeca
  • price 2 of 4

Aboard Pier 25's historic schooner turned oyster bar, the New England summer vibe is strong, with waitstaff outfitted in navy striped shirts delivering dishes like Kerry Heffernan's beautiful lobster roll. The toasted bun is lined with "boat-made" pickles, the mayo is charged with white wine and dulse (that's seaweed, FYI), and the Maine lobster meat is freshened with fennel and lemon. A side of New Bay spiced chips doesn't hurt, either. $32.

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  • Restaurants
  • Seafood
  • Gowanus
  • price 2 of 4

At this refined clam shack near the Gowanus Canal, live lobsters are poached in house and nestled inside airy, toasted split-ton buns. Squirt the accompanying lemon wedge over the stunningly sweet meat—barely dressed with Hellmann’s mayonnaise, lemon juice and bits of diced celery—to add an extra hit of brightness (not a fan of mayo? Go for Connecticut style, with butter, instead). On the side: semi-sour, homemade bread-and-butter pickles. $30.

You’ll need to keep close tabs on this Maine-bred, nationally-beloved lobster purveyor in order to know where to find them day to day in NYC. Wherever in the five boroughs you find them (sometimes on Long Island), Cousins is sure to deliver fresh, flavorful lobster rolls, available in both Maine and Connecticut style. And after running around the city to find them, you may as well throw in an order of lobster tots for good measure – you deserve. $22.50.

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  • Restaurants
  • Seafood
  • Chelsea
  • price 2 of 4

Tucked in the back of the seafood section at Chelsea Market, this cozy nook nods to two types of lobsters: a cull lobster, which has only one claw, and a pistol lobster, which has no claws. Name notwithstanding, patrons of Cull & Pistol need not worry about there being enough crustacean meat to go around here as well. Just look at the lobster rolls for proof; there are two versions of the summertime favorite on offer here: A warm, buttery Connecticut-inspired number and a chilled, mayo-laced Maine rendition. We can't choose–we'll leave it up to you. $32.

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