I first wrote about Lobster West seven years ago in Lick the Plate and was thrilled to have them in the burgeoning restaurant scene in Encinitas. Since then, it’s been added to what I call my “go back list,” which are restaurants I cover for LTP that need to be worked into my regular mix. Before I get into the many reasons why they made that list, I have some updates from the family behind Lobster West.
Besides the flagship Encinitas location, Lobster West now has locations in Coronado and Carlsbad at the Windmill Food Hall. The owners chose to close their restaurants for the past two months because of all of the unknowns of COVID-19, but they recently reopened Encinitas and Coronado for lunch takeout, curbside pickup and delivery. They hope to open all three of their locations for dine-in and full hours soon, with early June being the target date.
When I say it’s a family affair at Lobster West, it truly is and worth a quick refresher. It’s a collaboration involving Kim Locker, her husband Joel, brother Chad, mother Debbie, and friend Larry. Kim shared a memory of her first bite of a lobster roll while on vacation with her mom in Cape Cod, and it officially became her favorite food of all time. When Kim moved to Encinitas, there was that lingering question of where to go for East Coast-style seafood and, in particular, lobster rolls. After a thorough search of the area, which uncovered few places that would satisfy her craving, her family decided to take matters into their own hands and Lobster West took shape.
One of my favorite parts of their story involves their commitment to quality and responsible sourcing. The family dedicated a substantial amount of time touring facilities up and down the coast of Maine to find the best lobster resources. They spent mornings on fishing boats, met with all the suppliers who personally ship their product and inspected their facilities. They chose the most delicious lobster they could find that adheres to the strict standards of Maine lobster fishing industry regulations. They take pride in saying that they can trace each and every lobster back to the specific harbor from which it came. Their Maine lobster is 100% certified and sustainable.
While the focus is on lobster rolls, Lobster West offers fresh crab rolls, shrimp rolls, seafood and clam chowders, amazing coleslaw, baked beans, locally grown organic salads and more. I would put their New England-style clam chowder, cole slaw and baked beans right up there amongst the best I’ve had.
On my most recent visit, I went with the shrimp roll as it was a lunchtime visit and I wanted something a bit less rich than the lobster roll. It was fabulous, and I will say that I demanded a bite of my son’s lobster roll and was immediately reminded of how darn good that thing is. The call moving forward will be to order with a friend and split a lobster and shrimp roll between us and get the best of both worlds. Or… if you are feeling particularly indulgent, go for the Maine Event, which includes one lobster, crab and shrimp roll. They also recently added junior rolls, which have proved to be very popular. The Nor’easter is a platter of three junior-sized rolls consisting of lobster, crab and shrimp, so you get a taste of them all but don’t overindulge. I also forgot to mention, if you prefer your lobster roll warm, that’s Connecticut-style and don’t forget a bag of chips to go with it.
I’ve been mainly a soda guy with my Lobster West feasts but asked Kim about beer and wine pairings as they offer both. She said their soups pair well with rich Chardonnays from Russian River, as well as White Burgundies such as Meursault or Pouilly-Fuisse. Wines with a little spice and honey along with cream, butter, caramel and vanilla notes do well also. For the rolls, she recommended a Sauvignon Blanc. The acid cuts through the rich/buttery flavor and has enough weight and texture to match the seafood. A medium-bodied, richer Chardonnay works as well.
She also loved pairing a cold beer or champagne with everything on their menu. They have wine for sale by the bottle or glass, as well as cold beer to round out your meal and transport you to the rocky shores of Maine.
I did not make it to dessert, but they do offer Maine’s beloved whoopie pies, a New England dessert phenomenon that has gained popularity throughout the country in various forms.
They have also given their locations an East Coast fish joint look and feel that adds to the authenticity of the experience. Stay on top of their hours and locations at www.lobsterwest.com and make Lobster West part of your culinary go-back mix for sure.