Maine is known for lobsters, and there’s no shortage of restaurants offering freshly caught, steamed in front of your eyes crustaceans. Most of them are good, but Thurston’s are the best.
Location: Thurston’s Lobster Pound isn’t the most convenient establishment, but that’s part of its charm. About a 30 minute drive from buzzy Bar Harbor, the casual restaurant sits on a dock overlooking the water, entirely unpretentious or concerned with tourists. Huge windows and awning-covered dining rooms give the impression that you’re outside, without the nighttime chill. Best of all, from your seat you can watch lobster boats returning to the wharf with the catch of the day, so you know its fresh.
The Food: Lobsters come in three sizes, all either hard or soft shell, (the owners say to go with the sweeter soft shell), and you pick your own. After about 10 minutes of steaming, you’re presented with a perfectly cooked, meaty, slightly sweet, delicious lobster with as much drawn butter as you like. The crab cakes are also excellent and not too full of stuffing like other places. Just a lot of pan-fried crab meat, light breading, and some seasoning. I also tried the lobster roll and was impressed with the amount of meat. If you’re grabbing a quick lunch the roll might be the way to go, but a full lobster is a much better experience.
Price: Can’t be beat. Maine is cheap for lobsters anyway, but Thurston’s is really a great value.
Open Memorial Day through mid-October. A perfect East Coast summer evening.