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With the warm weather now firmly in place, thoughts now turn to lobster rolls, and while Maine may be the best place in New England--and maybe the entire country--for them, Massachusetts has its fair share of great places to find these simple but delicious food items. Below is a sampling of some of the better ones along the MA coast, though there are honestly so many other outstanding ones as well, including Belle Isle in Winthrop and Sesuit Harbor Cafe in Dennis, so a "part two" could certainly be on the way over the coming months.
1) The Lobster Pool Restaurant, Rockport
This may be the best place to go if the views are as important as the lobster rolls, as The Lobster Pool sits on a prime piece of real estate that looks out to the west, offering incredible sunset views and memorable scenery in general from both the windows inside and the picnic tables out back. The Lobster Pool also happens to serve some marvelous lobster rolls as well, with the meat tasting about as fresh as you can get while also being as simple as you can get (hot dog bun, lobster meat, a bit of mayo, and that's about it).
2) Sullivan's, South Boston
The city of Boston has a handful of options for lobster rolls along the water, but it's tough to beat Sully's when it comes to ocean scenery. Situated at the tip of Southie at Castle Island, a rite of passage for some is to grab a tasty and very reasonably-priced lobster roll here, then walk the "sugar bowl" (Pleasure Bay), taking in the sights and the salt air while going further and further out to sea along the causeway. Oh, and if you're not into seafood, Sullivan's is known for their hot dogs, which are half-priced at the beginning and end of the season.
3) Tony's Clam Shop, Quincy
Wollaston Beach is one of those old-fashioned seaside areas where you'll see walkers, joggers, bikers (both bikes and motorcycles), and people cruising the strip with music blaring, so naturally this is a good place for a seafood shack, which Wolly Beach actually has two of (see below for the other). Tony's has been around for a long time, and even though it is famous for its tremendous fried clams, its lobster rolls are equally good and sometimes overlooked here. If you love the feel of sitting on a (very short) seawall while dining on a lobster roll, this is a place you should probably check out.
4) CK Pearl, Essex
While not exactly a down-and-dirty seafood shack like some of the others listed here, this North Shore favorite happens to have some of the best lobster rolls in the region. They aren't cheap at this riverside restaurant, but they are definitely worth paying a little extra for, and CK Pearl's sublime clam chowder (which includes fried clams actually sticking out of the chowder) helps to make a lobster-clam pairing that's a seafood lover's dream, though there is a lot more good stuff here in addition to lobster rolls and chowder which can make things tough when ordering.
5) Lobster Hut, Plymouth
If you like really old-fashioned seafood shacks, this restaurant out on the town wharf is one you shouldn't miss; everything about the place--from ordering seafood at the front counter to paying very little for outstanding lobster rolls to deciding whether to sit indoors in a slightly tacky space or outdoors with gorgeous views of Plymouth Harbor--make The Lobster Hut something special. The lobster rolls, by the way, come in two sizes and feature lots of claw meat, which is never a bad thing.
6) Roy Moore's Fish Shack Restaurant, Rockport
The name may confuse some, as there are actually two Roy Moore's in Rockport (and yes, they are under the same ownership), but unlike the bare-bones market and eatery on nearby Bearskin Neck, Roy Moore's Fish Shack is a true full-service restaurant with plenty of seating and nice views of the water from the dining rooms. This one really comes down to choice, as the lobster rolls are equally good at the Fish Shack and the Lobster Co.--if you like comfort, this is the one to hit, while if you like down-and-dirty, go with the latter. (You can get the mayo on the side, by the way, which allows you to decide how much to add to the meat.)
7) The Clam Box, Quincy
An ongoing debate you'll hear in Quincy is, which place is better--Tony's Clam Shop or The Clam Box? Well, both Wollaston Beach mainstays are worth going to for a variety of seafood dishes. And as you might have figured out, both tend to focus more on fried clams, but the lobster rolls are also terrific at both places, and priced pretty reasonably, especially for being so close to Boston. The Clam Box also has outdoor seating, so you can catch some rays and sea breezes while doing some always-interesting Wolly Beach people-watching.
8) Arnold's, Eastham
The only place on this list that hasn't been formally reviewed here, this legendary Outer Cape spot may not be on the water, but it's all about the food at this roadside eatery so no one really seems to care about the lack of views. And if you like warm buttered lobster rolls, which are much tougher to find than chilled rolls, Arnold's has one of the best versions in all of New England, with lobster meat overflowing so much that the bun often can't even be seen. Indeed, more than a few lobster lovers say that hot butter is better than cold mayo when it comes to lobster rolls, though this is probably a topic to be saved for another day.
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