New England lobster prices are at historic lows, but, unfortunately, our wallets were recently pinched at a southern coastal Maine restaurant offering what initially seemed like a good deal.
A twin lobster special at just over $29 sounded fine — comparing the cost against previous years — but while walking out of the restaurant we noticed a lobster warehouse selling lobster at $3 a pound. File that dining experience under “How to act like a tourist trap and profit from the lobster industry.”
A few hours later while strolling downtown York Beach, Maine, we noticed The Daily Grind Cafe (21 Railroad Ave.) offering single Maine lobster at $9, twins at $16 and triples at $21. Who would have thought a place known for excellent coffee, baked goods and paninis serving lobster on a weekend evening at much lower prices than a famous seafood restaurant specializing in this legendary Maine shellfish? Just goes to show that real bargains abound out there for lobster, and you need not go to a renowned New England seafood restaurant for the best deals.
The key is to do your research before going out for lobster. Make some calls to restaurants and seafood shacks to find out the “market value” price of the day. At your local or New England vacation destination, look for signs in the window or on the sidewalks offering lobster specials with the prices written down. Seek out the no-frills lobster and seafood shacks as these ugly duckling restaurants are all about the food. Look for online coupons and short-window specials (like The Daily Grind serving only on summer weekend evenings). Ask a local — they don’t like to be ripped off, either.
I’ve had lobster at places like Brown’s and Markey’s in Seabrook, N.H., and Pier 18 in East Bridgewater, Mass., where the owners take great pride in keeping the prices down. I would recommend, however, researching even further. You just might find, on any given day, lobster coming in at even lower prices than those terrific seafood shacks.
The same goes for lobster rolls. At the restaurant in question here, I ordered a baked stuffed lobster roll for $19.95. The roll had very little lobster and too much breading. Incredibly, the best lobster roll I had recently came from Marc Anthony’s, a pizza place in Onset, Mass., with a price coming in at $14.95 for a hefty amount of real lobster meat.
The moral of the story is that not all of these well-known lobster restaurants are cracked up to what they are supposed to be. Who knows, you might find, too, that frequenting coffeehouses, pizza restaurants and other unlikely places for lobster will yield the best value for the money.
Editor’s note: where do you go for cheap lobster in New England? You can comment in the box below. We look forward to hearing from paying customers!
Fun and fried seafood at York Beach, Maine
Enjoying a picnic by Nubble Lighthouse, York Beach
How to enjoy lunch for around $3 at Cape Neddick
The best New England seafood restaurants