Folks from all over the country flock to the Maine Seacoast (and sometimes New Hampshire) to try some of our delicious boiled, steamed, broiled, fried, Newburged and "lazy manned" (that's when the work is all done for you) lobsters.
We've got big family full service places like Newick's in Dover, N.H. and Warren's and Weathervane in Kittery, Maine, and plenty of roadside stands and lobster shacks all along the Seacoast highways for "in the rough" cracking, picking and tossing the shells off the dock, or you can bring a few to go — grab some slaw, some corn on the cob and some wine and have your in the rough lobster at home (maybe even in the rough yourself!). And don't forget the lobster roll — a soft buttery bun packed with fresh lobster meat and mayo with plenty of variations depending on where you go. Try them all to find your favorites.
The standard lobster size is 1¼ pounds (they're called chix). The meat at this age of the lobster is sweet and tender, the shells aren't too tough to crack, and lobster pounds can sell them at the price point most diners can afford. Warren's Lobster House in Kittery is one of the big destinations for both natives and out-of-towners to go for a Down East dinner with clams, chowder, fries and an excellent salad bar. They sell their lobster in quarter-pound increments starting at one pound (the legal size), but there are some smaller places around as well if the bustle isn't your speed.
The Cape Neddick Lobster Pound by the harbor on Shore Rd. in Cape Neddick also has a Down East dinner. Or to get a real Down East Clam bake with clams, lobster, and corn on the cob, go to Foster's York Harbor Pavilion or have them bring the bake to you at any one of the exciting outdoor locations, including nearby state parks and your own back yard (www.fostersclambake.com).
Buy an old granddad of an 8-pounder and ship it to land-locked friends. Sander's on Marcy Street in Portsmouth can ship one over night. It's there you'll be able to get a lobster, a crab roll or lobster roll and eat it outside at nearby Prescott Park, or buy some live lobster to take home to cook yourself (they make wonderful hostess gifts).
Little Jack's in Hampton on Ocean Avenue near the seawall is a great little lobster pound (top 10 in New England from Frontier Magazine), and at Brown's Lobster Pound on Route 286 in Seabrook Beach the marsh view is terrific (stick around for sunset). A traditional clam bake is available to eat there or take home. There's a big lobster tank for the kids to squeal over.
Kittery's the place for claw cracking and boat spotting in an off-the-beaten path setting. Morrison's is at 11 Badger Island West, just over the bridge from Portsmouth (The area between the bridge and Warren's is actually a small island.) There lobster lovers can sit out on the dock and gaze at the view of Portsmouth across the water and crack some shells, slurp some steamers, or indulge in a lobster roll. Bring the rest of the dinner. Over that way too is Weathervane's Lobster in the Rough dockside spot with the same great view.
Sea Hags, also on Badger Island, does take-out lobster rolls, clams, and will also cook you up a lobster to take out, and Chauncey Creek Lobster Pier on Chauncey Creek Road in Kittery Point is a great picnic place where they supply the lobsters and the table, but you supply the wine, beer, and even salad. The view over the water is spectacular, and it's a real out-of-the-way experience.
Now for lobster rolls and more plain lobster, try Al's Seafood in North Hampton at 51 Lafayette Road, and perennial favorite Bob's Clam Hut, right near the outlet malls in Kittery, Maine with big rolls and outdoor seating in the sun.
Find out where to reach them in our Dining Guide.
How to Eat a Lobster
Equipment (this can be done with your bare hands in a pinch): nutcracker, a small fork, a nut pick, a bib, towels. Before molting, the shell of a large lobster may be so hard that you'll need a hammer to crack it, while after molting, the lobster's soft-shell is pliable and can be easily torn apart with a nutcracker.
Step 1. Twist off both claws and attached knuckles.
Step 2. Crack both claws and knuckles with a cracker or the back side (not the sharp side) of a chef's knife.
Step 3. Twist off the moveable part of the claw and peel away claw pieces to get to the claw meat.
Step 4. Twist the tail off of the body.
Step 5. Pick off each tail flipper and pinch the meat out.
Step 6. Insert fork into tail opening on the underside about an inch and twist and pull fork with one hand while holding tail in the other. The whole piece of tail meat should pop out.
Step 7. Turn the lobster body over and with a knife or pair of kitchen shears cut open between the walking legs. There are two pockets of meat underneath on each side.
Step 8. Unhinge the body shell from the body. Remove the "tomalley" (green substance) which is actually the lobster's liver. It's edible if you're into that.
Step 9. Pick off each leg and squeeze meat out between your teeth. Be sure to dip all the meat in lots of drawn butter with lemon. New England lobster is best served steamed or boiled and plain.