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Three lobster rolls with lettuce at Portland grocery store Zupan’s.
Lobster rolls from Zupan’s.
Zupan’s Markets

Where to Find Fully Loaded Lobster Rolls in Portland and Beyond

Cold with mayo, hot with butter, or dusted with buttermilk powder

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Lobster rolls from Zupan’s.
| Zupan’s Markets

Portland is a town with plenty of fish and seafood, thanks to its access to various rivers and proximity to the ocean; however, East Coast expats often find themselves craving the quintessential New England staple, the lobster roll, with very few sources of relief. Because lobsters primarily scuttle around the waters of the North Atlantic, Pacific Northwestern seafood aficionados often prefer the more local alternative of Dungeness crab rolls or bay shrimp rolls — but firm-yet-tender, sweet and briny lobster cannot be substituted when the mood strikes. The good news: A number of local carts and restaurants have started serving their version of the quintessential East Coast sandwich, whether it’s served hot with butter (a.k.a. Connecticut-style) or cold with mayo (typical of Maine). And of course, because it’s Portland, a few chefs have even gotten a little creative with their versions, topping the roll with shaved truffle or buttermilk powder.

Below, we dive into the lobster roll offerings available in greater Portland, served out of carts, seafood shacks, and grocery stores around town. Note that the city is home to a few roaming lobster carts to catch — Cousins Maine Lobster travels around greater Portland throughout the week, from Wilsonville to Troutdale, and is worth tracking down if none of the spots on this list strike your fancy. For more seafood, this map should help.

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Lobster Dogs PDX

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Lobster Dogs laughs in the face of the great butter vs. mayo debate, insisting diners can have it both ways. A swipe of mayo is applied inside their toasted split-top bun, and the lobster roll is drizzled with warm butter. Seafood lovers will appreciate the “ultimate dog,” which contains lobster, crab, and shrimp. Each order comes with a bag of chips. This North Carolina-based chain expanded to Portland this spring, popping up at local businesses in and around Portland in its roving food cart. For a weekly schedule, visit the cart’s Instagram page.

Zupan's Markets

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This local grocer has one of the most picnic-friendly lobster rolls you can find in town — order at the deli, where they will be conveniently boxed up and ready to accompany on-the-go diners along with grab-and-go sides, desserts, and drinks. The roll boasts a quarter-pound of North Atlantic lobster tossed with mayo, lemon juice, and herbs and includes a crisp leaf of butter lettuce to minimize bun sogginess for later consumption. Something to note: this lobster roll is available at all Zupan’s locations only on Fridays, starting at 10 a.m.

King Tide Fish and Shell

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Chef Alexander Diestra, formerly of Andina, now runs this waterfront seafood restaurant within the Riverplace hotel. His take on the lobster roll doesn’t shy away from the seafood-salad model, pairing the lobster with crunchy complements like red onions and celery. The touch of dill doesn’t overpower the lobster, but adds a nice dimension to the overall roll; the sweetness of the kewpie in the mix plays off the shellfish’s natural sweetness. It all arrives on a brioche bun, paired with fries.

Normandie

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At this coastal-inspired restaurant, large chunks of lobster are mixed in with Dungeness crab, fines herbes, and yuzu aioli before the mixture is nestled on a thick, house-baked brioche roll. For extra decadence and extra bursts of umami, the whole thing is finished with a smattering of trout roe. Round out your meal with some oysters or fries and a glass of sparkling wine.

A lobster roll topped with roe.
Normandie’s trout-roe topped lobster roll.
Janey Wong/Eater Portland

Câche Câche

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In Portland, Maine, the brown butter lobster roll at Eventide Oyster Company changed the game when it came to an inventive, bite-sized take on the classic. Câche Câche, tucked behind the Lil’ America pod in Southeast Portland, may offer the West Coast Portland’s version of that roll, bite-sized and truly creative in its approach. A toasty square of brioche, nutty with brown butter, arrives with a wallet slit stuffed with juicy lobster meat, tossed in aioli with just a hint of tarragon for a French touch. But to give the lobster some acidity without watering down the mix, chef John Denison finishes the roll with a dusting of sweet cream buttermilk powder. It’s exceptionally well executed without losing sight of the source material.

Jacqueline

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Petite lobster buns are regularly rotated on-and-off the menu at this charming seafood destination on Southeast Clinton. Cold, creamy lobster salad meets a warm butter-basted, crunchy-on-the-outside steam bun for a match made in heaven. Time your meal right and start off with dollar oysters, served every day from 5 to 6 p.m.

Cafe Rowan

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Chef Spencer Ivankoe’s lobster roll is a bit of a twist — his cafe uses Maine lobster for its Connecticut-style lobster rolls. Fans of garlic and butter will be especially satisfied by this roll, which also comes in a deluxe version crowned with sea urchin and shaved French truffles. The restaurant’s lobster roll Wednesdays are a steal — $20 gets diners a lobster roll and a mimosa, orange or grapefruit. Or, opt for the trio of rolls, a sampler of Maine lobster, Dungeness crab, and Oregon bay shrimp.

Coast to Coast Fish House

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What started as a Washington food cart has become a Camas seafood house, with a focus on Midcoast Maine seafood. That means the shop’s take on a lobster roll is straight out of Rockland — A large, buttery roll, stuffed with fresh lobster tossed in little more than a little mayo. New England expats missing home, this is the closest you’re going to get. For something a little more bite-sized, opt for the slider.

Lobster Dogs PDX

Lobster Dogs laughs in the face of the great butter vs. mayo debate, insisting diners can have it both ways. A swipe of mayo is applied inside their toasted split-top bun, and the lobster roll is drizzled with warm butter. Seafood lovers will appreciate the “ultimate dog,” which contains lobster, crab, and shrimp. Each order comes with a bag of chips. This North Carolina-based chain expanded to Portland this spring, popping up at local businesses in and around Portland in its roving food cart. For a weekly schedule, visit the cart’s Instagram page.

Zupan's Markets

This local grocer has one of the most picnic-friendly lobster rolls you can find in town — order at the deli, where they will be conveniently boxed up and ready to accompany on-the-go diners along with grab-and-go sides, desserts, and drinks. The roll boasts a quarter-pound of North Atlantic lobster tossed with mayo, lemon juice, and herbs and includes a crisp leaf of butter lettuce to minimize bun sogginess for later consumption. Something to note: this lobster roll is available at all Zupan’s locations only on Fridays, starting at 10 a.m.

King Tide Fish and Shell

Chef Alexander Diestra, formerly of Andina, now runs this waterfront seafood restaurant within the Riverplace hotel. His take on the lobster roll doesn’t shy away from the seafood-salad model, pairing the lobster with crunchy complements like red onions and celery. The touch of dill doesn’t overpower the lobster, but adds a nice dimension to the overall roll; the sweetness of the kewpie in the mix plays off the shellfish’s natural sweetness. It all arrives on a brioche bun, paired with fries.

Normandie

At this coastal-inspired restaurant, large chunks of lobster are mixed in with Dungeness crab, fines herbes, and yuzu aioli before the mixture is nestled on a thick, house-baked brioche roll. For extra decadence and extra bursts of umami, the whole thing is finished with a smattering of trout roe. Round out your meal with some oysters or fries and a glass of sparkling wine.

A lobster roll topped with roe.
Normandie’s trout-roe topped lobster roll.
Janey Wong/Eater Portland

Câche Câche

In Portland, Maine, the brown butter lobster roll at Eventide Oyster Company changed the game when it came to an inventive, bite-sized take on the classic. Câche Câche, tucked behind the Lil’ America pod in Southeast Portland, may offer the West Coast Portland’s version of that roll, bite-sized and truly creative in its approach. A toasty square of brioche, nutty with brown butter, arrives with a wallet slit stuffed with juicy lobster meat, tossed in aioli with just a hint of tarragon for a French touch. But to give the lobster some acidity without watering down the mix, chef John Denison finishes the roll with a dusting of sweet cream buttermilk powder. It’s exceptionally well executed without losing sight of the source material.

Jacqueline

Petite lobster buns are regularly rotated on-and-off the menu at this charming seafood destination on Southeast Clinton. Cold, creamy lobster salad meets a warm butter-basted, crunchy-on-the-outside steam bun for a match made in heaven. Time your meal right and start off with dollar oysters, served every day from 5 to 6 p.m.

Cafe Rowan

Chef Spencer Ivankoe’s lobster roll is a bit of a twist — his cafe uses Maine lobster for its Connecticut-style lobster rolls. Fans of garlic and butter will be especially satisfied by this roll, which also comes in a deluxe version crowned with sea urchin and shaved French truffles. The restaurant’s lobster roll Wednesdays are a steal — $20 gets diners a lobster roll and a mimosa, orange or grapefruit. Or, opt for the trio of rolls, a sampler of Maine lobster, Dungeness crab, and Oregon bay shrimp.

Coast to Coast Fish House

What started as a Washington food cart has become a Camas seafood house, with a focus on Midcoast Maine seafood. That means the shop’s take on a lobster roll is straight out of Rockland — A large, buttery roll, stuffed with fresh lobster tossed in little more than a little mayo. New England expats missing home, this is the closest you’re going to get. For something a little more bite-sized, opt for the slider.

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