It’s summer in the city, and this East Coast native is seriously nostalgic for family road trips through New England peppered with pit stops at roadside shacks for steamers, fried clams, and of course, lobster rolls. Proust had his madeleine and I, the lobstah roll, one bite of which evokes fond memories of my beloved maternal grandmother, for this buttery, lux delicacy was her absolute favorite food. And because I adored her, the lobster roll—simple yet elegant, classy yet understated (much like Gramma)—became one of my favorites. COVID-19 means no trips back East this season, but fortunately these five Houston restaurants have helped satisfy my lobster roll cravings.
In addition to fish and chips and other seafood staples, the relatively new Millie’s in Oak Forest vends a Connecticut-style lobster roll, which means it boasts a tangy tweak due to the use of garlic-infused butter as dressing instead of mayonnaise. Available for curbside pickup or delivery, Millie’s lobster roll comes with a spring salad (for a light lunch) or house-cut fries (for a hefty happy hour treat).
First a food truck and now two brick-and-mortar locations, Maine-ly Sandwiches was a trailblazer in providing Houstonians a consistent, reliable source of quality lobster rolls (all of which are dressed in mayo and served in on a split-toasted butter bun), as well as other hard-to-find (in Texas) iconic New England fare, such as whoopie pies, clam strips, and Moxie soda. Lobster roll aficionados of all levels will appreciate Maine-ly’s bevy of options, which range from the miniature but satisfying half roll (3 oz of meat, $19) to the hearty whole roll (6 oz of meat, $38) to the robust “Maine-iac” roll ($68), which contains an entire tail and two claws’ worth of meat and, if that wasn’t rich enough, a side of drawn butter.
With cheesesteaks, debate persists regarding whether provolone or cheese whiz is the most “authentic”; for lobster rolls, the analogous question is warm butter or chilled mayonnaise. As previously noted, residents of Connecticut favor the former while Mainers the latter. If your family is a house divided, Cousins, which offers both varieties, is the perfect compromise. And for that black sheep of the clan who demands none of the above, Cousins also serves fancier-schmancier crustacean creations such as lobster quesadillas and lobster grilled cheese. Check the franchise’s website to catch up with this food truck, which is keeping a full schedule this summer despite the challenging pandemic environment.
“In food there is freedom” is State of Grace’s slogan and, methinks, a fitting motto for our times. The restaurant recently debuted a new curbside pick-up weekend brunch menu that features a delectable lobster roll. (Well, technically, it’s a lobster "bun," but who cares? It’s the crustacean flesh and not the carbohydrate that defines this sammie.) The lobster roll ... err ... bun and other decadent brunch items like warm cinnamon rolls, deviled eggs, and pork belly Benedict are only available from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sundays; to-go orders can be placed on SoG’s website.
Be still my Boston Irish heart. The culinary team at Loch Bar has managed to create a seafood sandwich that fully speaks to my heritage: a lobster roll made with Kerrygold butter. Plus, it’s dotted with chives and a celery leaf, which, along with the orange-ish and white meat, replicates the colors of the Emerald Isle flag. Genius and absolutely irresistible.