In April 2016, Governor Paul LePage signed a bill into law that made the lobster the state crustacean of Maine. And it’s little wonder that he did, in a state with an astounding 3,478 miles of coastline and a 2014 lobster haul that reached 120 million pounds—or 80 percent of the nationwide catch.
So it only seems fitting that Portland, the largest city in Maine and an established culinary capital, would be home to more than several of the state’s best lobster dishes. Whether you’re in search of fine dining, a no-frills seafood shack, or an inventive blend of global flavors, these Portland establishments have a lobster dish for you.
Expect to find a line outside the door of Eventide Oyster Co., the recipient of multiple James Beard Award nominations since opening in 2012. And although the local oysters receive top billing here, it’s the Eventide brown butter lobster roll you’ll want to write home about. Featuring steamed buns and a flavor-packed brown butter vinaigrette, these lobster rolls are best ordered in quantities of (at least) two.
Fishermen’s Grill promises “seafood so fresh, you wannah slap it,” and that’s exactly what you’ll get at this humble and friendly neighborhood favorite. Local lobster, which is purchased daily, is piled high on the classic and buttery “Jumbo Lobstah Roll”—so much so, that it can even fill a second bun. Just remember to visit the ATM before lunch, as Fishermen’s Grill is cash-only.
The flavors and techniques at The Honey Paw are inspired by China and Southeast Asia, but the ingredients are as local as they come. Take a break from the New England lobster roll and indulge in specialties that include a lobster tartine with a cilantro emulsion, radish, and hijiki, and an outstanding curry lobster laksa with fermented rice noodles and unforgettable flavors of clam, coconut, and chili—yum!
With a Commercial Street location in the heart of the Old Port, Portland Lobster Company bests its competition when it comes to waterfront views, outdoor seating, and frequent live music. Even better news? The steamed whole lobsters and classic lobster rolls with sweet butter, mayonnaise, and lemon are incredibly tasty as well.
Bring a healthy appetite (and a dining companion or two) to dinner at Street & Co., the home of Portland’s most legendary lobster diavolo. This decadent dish is a showcase of local lobster, squid, mussels, and clams, all of which are served on a bed of perfectly cooked linguine that soaks up the flavors of the sea. It’s a dish intended for two people—but you’ll likely have leftovers just the same.