One of our favorite cities to visit is Boston because there are so many good food options that Sonia and I cannot get when home. When visiting Boston, the main food item that I cannot wait to get my fill of is the lobster roll. While we have access to a Cousins Maine Lobster food truck, it’s just not the same as getting it from the New England area. Cousins’ is good and has been a great resource for many all over the country to satisfy the craving, but nothing beats a roll with fresh lobster right from the ocean.
This post is limited to locations within walking distance or a short car ride away from Boston’s downtown area. The hope is that one day soon we will be able to venture further out in Massachusetts and the other New England states to try more, but unfortunately, we haven’t had a chance to get outside of this area. Also, the focus will be on the traditional or cold style lobster rolls and not the Connecticut or hot ones. The places we sampled were:
- Wicked Lobsta – Located in Quincy Market
- Red’s Best – Located in Boston Public Market
- Legal Sea Foods – Multiple Locations
- James Hook & Co. – 440 Atlantic Ave.
- Yankee Lobster Co. – 300 Northern Ave.
Wicked Lobsta is a stand located in Quincy Market at Faneuil Hall. This is a great location if you are sight-seeing in the area or heading to or from the aquarium. This was probably the best value out of all of the places since it could be ordered as a combo that comes with a drink and a small clam chowder. For the roll itself, this was one of the least stuffed for me. This could have been due to the timing of when we ate, which was well after 6pm, and from the looks of it, right after a fairly big dinner rush. The lobster itself was tender and a good mix of claw and knuckle meat, but not much mayo or celery dressing it.
Located a few blocks away from Quincy Market is the lesser known Boston Public Market. While you won’t get the same number of options here that you would find at Quincy Market, what you will find are some great local eateries with quality flavors and food. Tucked in the back of the market is an eatery that seeks to promote fishermen first while providing fresh and local seafood caught by their network of boats.
I first tried Red’s lobster roll in May 2022 when in Boston for a work conference. Searching for places close to my hotel, Red’s came up since it was across the street. From that moment, it has become one of my favorite rolls. The meat has nice chunks from the knuckle and claw, but what sets this roll apart for me is the seasoning in the mayo dressing mixed with the buttery-ness of the toasted roll. I’m usually not one for celery, but the celery in this roll is chopped at the perfect size to add the necessary flavor and texture. Those flavors with the lobster meat make for one amazing bite.
Legal Sea Foods
Legal Sea Foods is a regional restaurant chain that serves up all kinds of seafood focused meals. Depending on where you are in the Boston area, you should be close to a location, but in case you missed visiting one during your stay, be sure to take advantage of the locations at Logan Airport before your flight home.
This roll is probably the one I would not order again since it simply felt underwhelming when compared to the other rolls. For me, there just wasn’t enough lobster in it, and the dressing didn’t seem to work with it at all. It felt like two separate components with their own flavor profiles wanting to remain separate. The roll comes with fries and coleslaw which make for a nice filling meal, but for me, the fries were more of a star than the lobster roll.
James Hook & Co.
The first lobster roll I can remember eating was the one at James Hook & Co. To this day, there is a consistency about it that keeps me and Sonia going there whenever we are in Boston. The filling here sets this roll apart from the others mentioned above. The amount of lobster in the large roll is ridiculous and yet once I am finished, I can still see me wanting more because it is just that good. The meat is knuckle, claw, and tail. Not sure if any of the others above had tail meat, but you know it’s in there in this one. Where this roll loses me though is in the bread and lack of celery in the dressing. The bread seems like a simple roll that has not been toasted, while the dressing lacks the complementary celery crunch and taste. Neither is a dealbreaker though for me since the lobster is fantastic. And in all honesty, in the end, this is all about the lobster.
Yankee Lobster Co.
The other roll in my top 2 is the Traditional Lobster Roll at Yankee Lobster Co. This roll is almost like a mashup of the best parts of the James Hook and the Red’s Best rolls. The roll comes overflowing with perfectly dressed knuckle, claw, and tail meat. The celery is the right size to provide the necessary taste and crunch, so that the roll can stay focused on the lobster filling. Fries come with the roll, which helps make it a hearty meal. The only drawback is that Yankee Lobster is the furthest option from the downtown area as it is located in the Seaport, but it’s definitely worth the cost of the Uber or Lyft.
While I did walk away with favorites, you can’t really go wrong with any of these lobster rolls. The freshness of the lobster in each was good and what makes it worthwhile to eat any of these, especially if you live outside of the New England area. We’re always looking for great lobster rolls, so if you know of any other places that we should visit, please let us know by e-mail or in the comments. As always, wishing everyone happy travels and happy eating!