An article on the best Lobster Roll in Maine (and hence, the world) with no mention of Red's Eats in Wiscasset?
Perhaps maine. The Magazine (A-List, Lobster Rolls, August 2010, p. 49) thinks itself too highfalutin to follow the herd, to wait on that hour-long line with hoi polloi. (Or perhaps the writer simply required instant gratification.) No such pretensions here. Part of the charm of Red's is, indeed, to stand on line and trade stories with both aficionados and newbies. Another wonderment is to contemplate the bidirectional logjam on U.S. Route 1 through Wiscasset—cars farther than the eye can see or the telephoto lens can capture.
Distractions aside, the main event at Red's is, without question, the singularly delicious ("wicked good," in local parlance) Lobster Roll: the meat of more than one lobster, served on a grilled New England-style hot dog bun with love and artistry by the same small handful of friendly, hard working folks day in, day out. The extravagant sandwich ($18.95) contains pure, fresh lobster only; drawn butter and mayonnaise are available upon request. Others have described it in minute detail, and there's little to be added except to ratify, without hesitation, the general consensus that this is, claws down, the best lobster roll on earth.
Housed in a diminutive trailer-turned-shack that has stood in the same spot since 1954, Red's Eats became a favorite among lobster roll enthusiasts after Allen W. Gagnon bought the business in 1977. Disgusted by an inferior roll he'd tried—made with frozen lobster and various fillers—he was determined to "make a lobster roll that's a lobster roll." Though Al Gagnon died just over two years ago at the age of 71, his legacy lives on through his family. Serving as manageress and cashier, daughter Debbie Cronk is also Red's official publicist, having recently penned a book with Virginia Wright entitled Red's Eats: World's Best Lobster Shack. (The name Red, incidentally, antedates the late Mr. Gagnon. Though he adopted the sobriquet, he was not the eatery's namesake—that appellative distinction belongs to Red Delano, one of the original owners.)
Interestingly, Red's Eats is not just a lobster shack. In addition to its famous signature sandwich, Red's stands out in other culinary ways. My Comestaccomplice had eaten here previously, but following a lobstah overdose from a week in Maine, opted for the double cheeseburger. Her burger was excellent, as were the crisp onion rings, creamy Round Top ice cream, and locally produced Cranberry Island Kitchen Whoopie Pies, all of which we enjoyed on this visit.
Red's offers a rather extensive menu for those whose first choice is not crustacean. While our experience is limited to the aforementioned items, we are pretty confident that anything at Red's is among the finest of its kind.
After spending an hour or more in stalled traffic, the idea of waiting on line yet another hour may seem beyond the pale. Nevertheless, Red's is a quintessentially Maine experience—or a worldwide one, by some accounts—that is not to be missed as an important claws of a family vacation narrative.
41 Water Street (NE corner Main St-U.S. 1)
Wiscasset, ME 04578 (map)
2002 WQED video featuring the late Allen Gagnon