The Maine Street Lobster cart is a mess of improbable. A streetside lobster seller might be normal at a wharf in the other Portland, where the beast actually exists, but here it's a logistical nightmare: The cart flies in fresh crustacean three days a week. And though the lobster roll is a classic New England treat, the cart owners—who came here from Florida and Georgia—throw $10 po'boys on the menu for good measure.
But the Maine lobster roll is exactly what it should be: a hot mountain of buttery, tender lobster chunks on a crisped, halved roll. Don't expect bargain basement here—it's lobster, after all. But in a town where diners will pay $10 for a tuna melt without blinking, the $14 hoagie stacked high with tender morsels is a working-class treat, less special-occasion than a hard day's reward.
The Down East ($14) is basically a lobster version of crab louie on a bun, a cold lobster sammie with mayo sauce and watercress. It's pleasant, but when the lobster's fresh, I prefer it unmasked. The bisque ($6/$8) is straight-up butter and sherry in lobster base, a winter warmer worth savoring.
Just be careful with those sandwiches. The heaped lobster has a nasty tendency to drop off the top—heck, my dining companion actually picked up a couple chunks off the parking lot when they fell. "I wouldn't normally do this," he said. "But it's lobster."
- Order this: Maine Lobster Roll ($14).
- Best deal: $5 lobster sliders offer a taste.
EAT: Maine Street Lobster, 8145 SE 82nd Ave. (Cartlandia pod), 770-480-3437, mainestreetlobstercompany.com. 11:30 am-7:30 pm Tuesday-Saturday, noon-5 pm Sunday.