In conjunction with Maine Restaurant Week running from March 1 – 14, posts during the next few days will feature Maine restaurants I have had the pleasure of dining at. Maine dining is more than just seafood. Find out what this great state has to offer.
When visiting Maine, one has to eat lobster. (unless you are allergic to seafood.) Having lived in Maine, I know that nothing is sweeter or better than Maine lobster. With that thought in mind, plan a visit to Wiscasset, which bills itself as the prettiest village in Maine. Located on the Sheepscot River on Route 1, it is filled with antique shops. You’ll know you’re there when the traffic slows way down, partly due to the low speed limit and during the summer, due to the crowds.
The #1 reason to come to Wiscasset is Red’s Eats. I discovered it when planning a fall trip to Maine in 2013. Voted the #1 Lobster Roll in Maine (and possibly anywhere), Red’s draws devotees (including celebrities) from all over the country and has been featured on numerous food shows. With a following like that, how could I not pass up a chance to try it for myself.
Opened by Allen “Red” Gagnon, first in Boothbay in 1938, then moved to its present location in 1954, it is now owned and run by his daughters.
One of his quotes posted at the lobster shack summons up what keeps people coming back: “You can feed anyone once. Feed them twice and you’re something right!!”
The little shack with a red and white striped awning sits on the left corner of Water Street and Route 1 right before going over the bridge. No matter what time of year it is, you’ll see the line around Red’s that wraps around the corner and at times reaches almost to the bridge.
Two-hour parking is strictly enforced in Wiscasset. Avoid the urge to park on Route 1 and seek parking down side streets or the marina parking lot. The area is heavily residential, so be respectful not to park in someone’s driveway or on vacant lots. Red’s has no restrooms. Public restrooms are located at the marina a short walk along Water Street on the river.
Be forewarned, this place is crazy popular. The October day we ate there, we waited 1 hour 15 minutes to get to the window to place our order. But it was oh so worth it. Tip: If you’re with a group, have one person hold your place in line while the others use the time to go look in the shops.
Almost every restaurant in Maine serves some version of a lobster roll. The meat is already removed from the shell and nestled in a bun, so what more could you ask for. What makes this place so special? It’s the sweet succulent lobster meat! I ran into Mrs. Gagnon once and she told me all her sons are lobstermen. They must have secret places to set their traps to get this amazing lobster. And they don’t scrimp. There is a whole lobster in each roll. The roll is soft and super fresh. My research has found they now offer a gluten free roll as well.
Most people are familiar with the typical lobster roll that is blended with just a touch of mayo. You can get it with a side of mayo, but I learned that locals prefer to eat their lobster roll with drawn butter. Luscious decadent pure Heaven! It’s almost impossible to pick up the whole roll. Take individual pieces of lobster and dunk in the drawn better so you don’t miss a bite.
Luscious decadent pure Heaven! You can get it either way at Red’s. It’s almost impossible to pick up the whole roll. Take individual pieces of lobster to dunk in the drawn better so you don’t miss a bite.
Take your tray around back to the wood deck that overlooks the river, relax and enjoy the views and your food.
Lobster rolls are market price, which translates as “not cheap”. This is a treat well worth the price. We noted a group of enterprising college students who split a couple of lobster rolls, an order of onion rings and a piece of blueberry cake to keep costs down and still enjoy a taste of the awesome food.
Red’s has about 100 menu items to savor – fried clams, crab rolls, fish, and the non-seafood eater specialty hot dogs, burgers and chicken. Sides include crispy golden fries, sweet potato fries and fat onion rings. If you still have room for dessert, try the homemade blueberry cake, a whoopie pie or ice cream. To see a large part of the menu, take a look at their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=10152513116173088&id=175139778087
Red’s Eats is open seasonally from April to the Sunday before Columbus Day (October).