It’s such a culinary contradiction: the great gourmet food of New England is usually served on paper plates and eaten at picnic tables by grownups wearing plastic bibs. Yet there’s no denying that the tastiest lobster served in Maine invariably comes from laid back hole-in-the-wall food shacks that line the state’s magnificent coast. These five are the standouts.
Nunan’s Lobster Hut, Cape Porpoise
Leaning above quiet Cape Porpoise Harbor, Nunan’s Lobster Hut attracts everyone from local fishermen to the hoi polloi from nearby Kennebunkport to rub elbows at its wooden tables beneath the lobster buoys hanging from its rafters. Nunan’s, opened in 1932 and still run by the family that bears its name, catches its own lobster locally, and cooks to order. Open only for dinner.
Harraseeket Lunch and Lobster Company, South Freeport
Beneath the blue and white awning of the Harraseeket Lunch and Lobster Company, you’ll find maybe the best lobster rolls served in Maine. Open for lunch and dinner, the business has been operated by the Coffin family since it opened doors in 1970 in South Freeport, a short hop from the L.L. Bean headquarters.
Five Islands Lobster Company, Georgetown
The wharf-side view of the islands bobbing above Sheepscot Bay from the teal-colored picnic tables at Five Islands Lobster Company is delicious enough to attract customers on any sunny summer day. And the food is even more spectacular. Its locally caught lobster is served almost immediately after it reaches the wharf—never stored in tanks.
Shaw’s Fish and Lobster Wharf, New Harbor
Like its name implies, Shaw’s Fish and Lobster Wharf sits on stilts partly above the water on New Harbor—and lobster boats actually park next door to drop off their catch. You can pick your own lobster there, or order a lobster roll, or try some Maine clam chowder while sitting at the wharf or on the deck above.
Chauncey Creek Lobster Pier, Kittery Point
Only an hour’s drive from Boston near Maine’s southern coastal border, Chauncey Creek Lobster Pier is the state’s most accessible lobster shack—illustrated by the crowds cramming onto the bright picnic tables on the deck. The boiled lobster and lobster rolls are worth the pilgrimage, though.