Where to Get the Best Lobster Roll in L.A., Possibly America

Conde Nast Traveler
Photographer: Christina Liu

Photographer: Christina Liu

The East Coast is widely regarded as the motherland of lobster rolls, and for good reason. Naturally, there's Maine, where even the worst lobster roll is very good. Massachusetts, whose overstuffed rolls are proudly Bourdain-endorsed, and New York, whose rolls even Tony Soprano wakes up thinking about. But I can't lie. The best lobster roll I've ever had was in California.

I wish I could say that it was at some cool, divey surfside shack at least, but it wasn't even. The spot—Blue Plate Oysterette in Santa Monica—was about as L.A. as you could get. White leather banquettes (at a clam shack, I know) and an obnoxious, tourist-congested Ocean Avenue location. But their lobster roll, man. It was unreal.

It arrived at our table looking appetizing enough—overstuffed and pearly with mayo—but otherwise unremarkable, like it were any other lobster roll I'd eaten before. My expectations weren't high, this was L.A. But then I ate the thing, and it was flawless. Chunks of tender, sweet lobster meat—the perfect proportion of claw to tail—gently ranneth over the toasted, top-split bun. It was served cold, tossed lightly with a mildly tart mayonnaise that offset the sweetness of each bite. Never mind that the bun was actually a brioche (haters gon' hate), nor that it was served cold instead of warm with drawn butter, Connecticut-style. The authenticity debate is tired. That roll was ludicrously good.

"It's simply made with love!" said Chef Paolo Bendzu, by way of explanation. (That, and the lobsters are flown in from Boston every day, poached to perfection, and then stuffed into custom-made buns baked fresh daily, I later discovered). "Each roll is just a labor of love," Bendzu reiterated.

And though I'd love to claim discovery rights to L.A.'s lobster roll of love, it appears I'm late to this party. No matter. Just go get it. Never mind that it's fall; one of the only other things I like about L.A. is that it's always lobster season. 1355 Ocean Ave; (310) 576-3474

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