The Best Seafood Dives in Maine
Billy's overlooks Perkins Cove, one of the loveliest little harbors in Maine, which makes the outside tables highly coveted real estate. Here, you order at the counter; for table service and a wider menu, visit Barnacle Billy's, Etc., right next door. We love the clam-filled chowder and the lobster roll, both dusted with paprika; barnbilly.com, 207-646-5575
This general store/seafood shack with views of Biddeford Pool Beach offers a little bit of everything, including lobster tacos dolloped with guacamole, lime crema, and crunchy corn slaw; poollobster.com.
The Honey Paw
A happy stumble across the street from East Ender, the Honey Paw’s Andrew Taylor and Mike Wiley prepare lobster in a number of Southeast Asian guises, such as succulent wontons and Malaysian-style lobster laksa in a coconut curry broth; thehoneypaw.com.
This beloved dive near Basin Point is home to one of the most creative and decadent rolls on the Maine coast. Built of 25 percent crab and 75 percent lobster, the Crabster is reason enough to make your way to Harpswell. So is the view of a genuine Casco Bay wharf where they will pack you a cooler of live lobsters to go; ericasseafood.com.
If you’re on a Maine lobster roll crawl, there are no doubt plenty of hot dog buns and mounds of butter-drenched lobster on either side of this ever-trending culinary city. So take a moment to go a little highbrow and pique your taste buds with East Ender’s parmesan risotto, featuring local seasonal vegetables and pan-roasted lobster; eastenderportland.com
Salt & Honey
Chef Jackson Yordon’s comfort food at Salt & Honey shines brightest in the morning, when you can have sunny views of Kennebunkport’s Dock Square with your fluffy lobster omelet brimming with Gouda and generous hunks of claw and knuckle meat; thesaltandhoney.com.
Holbrook Lobster Grille
This BYOB shack on Cundy’s Harbor proves that lobster shines on salad. Alongside a variety of fried bites (don’t skip the pickles), you can also find tasty seafood salads featuring fresh fruit, feta cheese, and a medley of greens; holbrookwharf.com/wharf-store.
McLoons Lobster Shack
South Thomaston, Maine
Vacationland regulars will almost without fail point you to Red’s Eats in Wiscasset for the state’s top roll, and it’s undoubtedly a great one. But continue northeast for a local favorite, and perhaps even the best lobster roll in all of Maine: McLoons Lobster Shack serves them with your choice of mayo, butter, or both, which will make anyone a lobster roll fanatic; mcloonslobster.com.
Bet's Famous Fish Fry
“Life’s a fish and then you fry,” reads a sign on the side of this small fish-and-chips truck, which also dishes up ridiculously stacked-high fish sandwiches. Look for it parked just off Boothbay Harbor's Town Square (Rte. 27); hollyeats.com/BetsFishFry.htm
Billy's Chowder House
Given the name, you know the chowder has to be good. So is lobster in all its permutations: from boiled to lobster rolls and lobster stew. The view of a tidal marsh includes plenty of birds, and even the occasional moose. It's Maine, after all; billyschowderhouse.com, 207-646-7558
The Captain's Restaurant
Comfort food, pure and simple. The Captain's has been dishing up quality seafood―fried, grilled, or baked―for 25 years. Fried clams make a special trip worthwhile. So do The Captain's freshly baked pies and cakes. Need another reason to love this place? Taylor Swift filmed her music video, "Mine," here; 207-967-2341
The Castine Variety
This waterfront restaurant makes an immense version of the classic New England lobster roll—chilled meat in a buttered, toasted, split-top bun. You can eat it there, among the fresh baked pastries, or cross the street and gaze out over the harbor; 207-326-9920
Chauncey Creek Lobster Pier
The Clam Shack
Kennebunkport dearly loves this dowdy little hut at the bridge in the center of town. Try the fried clams or the lobster roll and you'll see why. Savor your order at the nearby railing along the Kennebunk River—which makes a nice place to enjoy your lunch while watching the boat traffic, at a table inside the seafood market, or outside at a lobster trap table; theclamshack.net, 207-967-3321
Cook's Lobster & Ale House
On one side, you look out over the Atlantic, sprinkled with lobster boats and buoys. On the other, you watch cars pass over the famous Cribstone Bridge. Either way, try the fresh steamed mussels to start and then it's all about all those lobster dishes; cookslobster.com, 207-833-2818
Dolphin Marina & Restaurant
Squeeze your car between a well-worn lobster boat and a tow truck in the parking lot, then enter through the right-hand door (the left leads to the boat repair garage). This place offers a little of everything, and it's all homestyle cooking. The chowder and big-as-two-fists blueberry muffins make a great meal; dolphinmarinaandrestaurant.com, 207-833-6000
This spot with beautiful marsh views has one of our favorite fish sandwiches in the country. Fresh haddock on a toasted bun? Yes, indeed; fishermanscatchwells.com, 207-646-8780
Lobster Pound Restaurant
Lobster is king, here: 70,000 pounds per year are boiled in seawater, served in stew, or offered as hotdog-like lobster rolls. The view overlooking Penobscot Bay and its dramatic tides make this a quintessential Maine experience; lobsterpoundmaine.com; 207-789-5550
Trenton Bridge Lobster Pound
This spot right before you cross the bridge to Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park, is the perfect place to begin your Maine vacation. This friendly, unfancy, family-run spot cooks lobsters and clams in big seawater pots over wood fires right in front of the building. Perfection; trentonbridgelobster.com, 207-667-2977
Thurston's Lobster Pound
On this spot high above Bass Harbor, watch lobster boats rumble in with the day’s catch. Then pick your own live one and choose a dinner. “Plain” comes with corn on the cob, slaw, roll, and blueberry cake. Pair it with locally brewed Bar Harbor Real Ale or Blueberry Ale; thurstonforlobster.com, 207-244-7600
The Lobster Shack at Two Lights
While the sign offers oysters, and they're good (although not from Maine), the best bet at J's Oyster are the Maine clams (and the lobster rolls). Ask for a bucket (but call them "steamers"), and soak up the old-school waterfront vibe at this dive right at the base of Portland's cobblestone-street historic district. It's been a magnet for seafood seekers since before the Portland dining renaissance, and it survives (thrives) as part of the original style of harbor life on the Maine coast; 5 Portland Pier, 207-772-4828 or here on Facebook.