There are few restaurants in Philadelphia that even seek to try their hand at lobster rolls, and perhaps that’s a good thing (Think of it like a cheesesteak: would you have more blind faith in one from South Side Chicago?). But we’ve tasted a couple in the Delaware Valley that don’t disappoint -– and might even make Maine “Down Easters” do a double-take!
— Ian Bush
1516 Sansom Street
Philadelphia, PA 19102
Finally–a “true” Maine lobster roll in Philadelphia. Plucking about a third of a pound of meat from crustaceans less than a day out of the Maine sea, the Oyster House doesn’t add much — nor should they — to make the most authentic, succulent roll this side of Kennebunkport. Tossed with a touch of mayo, some diced celery and a bit of salt, the chunks are piled into the only thing (besides your mouth) that’s worthy of such a creation — a buttered and toasted JJ Nissen bun (shipped from New England). Wicked good, as they say.
1300 Dickinson St
For a lobster roll with some zing, try the Mexican one at South Philly’s Ippolito’s. Unlike its mayo-drenched counterparts, this baby features hunks of Brazilian lobster mixed with chipotle remoulade, tomato, pepper and onion–perfect for those who want to spice it up a little.
600 N Broad St
Stephen Starr’s umpteenth restaurant has a Cape Cod-y theme (it’s named after the famous Cape highway by the same name), so naturally, a lobster roll is a must-have menu item. This one is simply dressed in mayo and stuffed between a potato roll, but even at the exorbitant cost of $26, it’s still worth it. Oh, and don’t miss the raw bar either!
593 E. Lancaster Ave.
St. Davids, PA 19087
Proper lobster rolls should be so overflowing with fresh, sweet meat that you’re either bound (and happy) to make a mess or resigned (but still happy) to compress the lobster with a fork to get it back in the bun and down your gullet. This is your fate at the Radnor Hotel’s restaurant, where the roll is much less than you’d pay at other establishments (like a certain seafood chain). But you wouldn’t know it; in fact, save for the bed of lettuce that comes between your lobster salad and your roll, you’d be hard-pressed to distinguish this dish, served alongside coleslaw and kettle chips, from one of those quality seaside shacks in Downeast Maine.