Traveling to Maine? Eating freshly caught Maine lobster is a must! There’s nothing better than sitting out on a deck overlooking the water, cracking open the shell of a bright red boiled crustacean caught earlier that day. Here are four of the most incredible lobster-eating destinations at the south end of the Maine coast. Most are open seasonally from May through Columbus Day.
Buy by the pound in Kittery
Photo by Dana Moos
Chauncey Creek Lobster Pier has been selling lobsters in Kittery since 1947. As with most down east lobster places, it’s no frills. Order lobsters by the pound at current market price at the counter and dine on one of the two decks. You can order sides for an extra charge and if you’re looking for an appetizer, choose from raw oysters, clams or “Peel & Eat Shrimp.” Other things you must try are the steamed mussels and clams, and of course the classic lobster roll. They have a few non-seafood choices for meat eaters; so don’t worry if you’re lobster-averse.
No Frills at Barnacle Bills since 1961
Go to Ogunquit, an artsy town that’s the Provincetown of southern Maine. Here you’ll find Barnacle Billy’s where they’ve been offering lobster since 1961 and families have been coming back for generations. There are two dining options at this family-run place; the “Original” where it’s no frills lobster, and the adjacent Barnacle Billy’s Etc which offers table service and steak along with other options. If you don’t want to shell your lobster, they offer lobster sauté, which gives diners about the same amount of meat found in a 1½ pounder with none of the fun. Sip their “world famous” Rum Punch as you watch the lobster, tuna, and sailboats go by. Ogunquit is a fun place to explore in its own right, and if you spend the night be sure to check out The White Barn Inn in nearby Kennebunk.
A Salt Water Secret Ingredient
Next up the coast is The Clam Shack in Kennebunkport, famous as the summer home of the Bush family (who reportedly order take-out ahead and send the Secret Service to pick it up). The bare-bones shack is strictly take-out, but there are tables to sit and eat your bounty. A neighbor, who is a 5th generation lobsterman, supplies the lobsters. They’re known for their batter-dipped fried clams (after all, it is The Clam Shack) and other fried seafood, but boiled lobster is a big deal too. Their award-winning lobster roll comes with a choice of mayonnaise or butter. Go for the butter! They hand shred their meat rather than cut it and salt water is pumped directly into both their holding tanks and the huge cooking pots. Can’t make it to Kennebunkport? They’ll ship them to your door.
Photo by Kristen Taylor
Our last lobster stop is The Lobster Dock in Booth Bay Harbor, Maine. The husband-and-wife-run lobster place sits at the edge of the harbor in this charming seaside town. They offer two dining decks and a water-side picnic area. In bad weather, there is an indoor dining room where diners can take shelter. They’re known for Seafood Fra diavolo — butterflied lobster and cracked claws (so you can easily get the meat out) simmered with scallops, mussels and shrimp in a homemade red sauce and served over linguine. Their Maine Crabcakes with summer salsa were featured on Throwdown! With Bobby Flay. Who won? You’ll have to catch the episode in reruns to find out.
Photo by Marcus Hansson
- The best way to eat this seafood treat is no frills: boiled with clarified butter on the side. The succulent meat is meant to be savored as simply as possible.
- Many places just serve the lobster alone with butter and lemon.
- Some lobster experts will tell you that a 2 to 2½ pounder is best; others prefer smaller ones. It’s personal preference, but with smaller lobsters you work just as hard for less payoff.
- Eat your way up the Maine coast. Every small town has at least one lobster shack beckoning. Just say: “Yes!”