My Favorite Dockside Lobster Wharf

Lea Wait, here, wondering why none of us Maine Crime Writers have written about our favorite

Unloading the day's catch lobsters below the deck/dining area

lobster wharves. I’m sure those of us who live near the coast have them. At our house we visit several during the summer season, usually when we have out-of-state guests, but our favorite is Shaw’s Fish & Lobster Wharf in New Harbor.

For those of you not from New England: a lobster wharf (sometimes a co-op run by local lobstermen, sometimes not,) generally combines a place you can buy lobsters, clams, and, often, fish, raw, to take home to cook, with a restaurant where cooks expert in the art of basic fried clams, steamed mussels, lobsters, lobster rolls, and often French fries and other accoutrements, will cook them up to order.

My granddaughter contemplating her dinner at Shaws

Usually the establishment is on a dock, with views of a harbor or river; many also have a covered area for bad weather dining. These are seasonal restaurants; most close by Columbus Day, although some sell fresh fish and lobsters throughout the year.

When my husband and I are craving a harbor view of lobstermen unloading their day’s catch, gulls keeping watch over the tables in case some customer should unwisely leave his food unguarded, and some lobsters or clams or mussels cooked the way we like them, we head for Shaw’s. The first floor is the fish market, a raw bar, and a local drinking spot. Climb the stairs to the second floor and you have a view of the working harbor (lobsters and fish in summer; shrimp in winter,) and out to sea. There’s seating inside or out, but on a good summer’s day we want to be outside. Inside, you order up your choice of food (and, yes, they also have non-seafood choices,) pick up a glass of beer or wine or soda, and then claim your table and wait for your number to be called.

Warning to diners!


You may, in fact, have seen Shaw’s before – but not known it. Shaw’s became “Chet’s Grill” in the 1999 romantic film, Message in a Bottle, starring Paul Newman and Kevin Costner. Although set in North Carolina, many of the scenes were filmed in New Harbor, where local fishermen changed the “ME” on their boats to “NC” for the duration of the shooting. If you visit Shaw’s, check out the cast pictures and signatures in the bar. Word locally is that Newman became quite fond of Pemaquid Ale during the shooting, and dropped his empties off at the local bottle redemption place himself.

My favorite Maine beer is Shipyard. But Pemaquid Ale’s not bad, especially when consumed with lobster and butter on a wharf overlooking one of Maine’s prettiest harbors. And who am I to argue with Paul Newman?

So — what’s your favorite lobster wharf?

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6 Responses to My Favorite Dockside Lobster Wharf

  1. Suzanne McGuffey says:

    Mine is Harraseeket Lunch and Lobster in South Freeport. These old knees like yhe lack of stairs. 😉

  2. thelma straw says:

    Lea, you make me homesick for my gorgeous days at Prout’s Neck! Thelma straw in Manhattan

  3. Elizabeth says:

    My parents rented a cottage in New Harbor for more than 20 summers. I have such fond memories of Shaws, both eating there and renting a cabin across the the harbor and watching all the activity! Now we vacation in Southwest Harbor and go to Beales Lobster. Not as big as Shaws but the lobster is just as delicious! Thanks for bringing back great memories!

  4. Barb Ross says:

    Muscongus Bay Lobster Company in Round Pond. On a summer evening, with families bringing picnics with salads and wine around you–and the view. Some of my happiest summer memories.

  5. Lea Wait says:

    They all sound wonderful .. places I haven’t been will go on to “to be checked out” list. And who wouldn’t want to comparison eat lobster & clams?

  6. Heather Erickson says:

    As a former islander, I have to give a shout out to Frenchboro’s Lunt’s Deli!

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