Feature: Maine's Best Lobster Pounds

Once considered a food fit only for prisoners and indentured servants, the American lobster has come a long way in the last 200 years. The tasty crustacean is now the most iconic of Maine foods; around 5000 Mainers still make their living hauling lobster traps out of the sea.

Every self-respecting coastal town from Kittery north to Calais has a lobster pound or shack not far from the local dock: these are great places to slurp thick seafood chowder and savor warm lobster rolls, or go the whole hog – tie on a bib and get cracking. They're usually low on frills but high on rustic charm, with waterfront views enjoyed from outdoor picnic tables (there is often no indoor seating; BYOB is a common policy). The term 'pound' usually implies that the establishment has a saltwater holding pen keeping lobsters alive for sale.

From south to north, here are some of our favorites (but there are dozens more):

Chauncey Creek Lobster Pier Just out of Kittery.

Cape Neddick Lobster Pound In Cape Neddick, near York.

Nunan's Lobster Hut In Cape Porpoise, near Kennebunkport.

Harraseeket Lunch & Lobster Co In Freeport.

Five Islands Lobster Company In Georgetown, near Bath.

Young's Lobster Pound Just out of Belfast.

Thurston's Lobster Pound In Bass Harbor on Mount Desert Island.

For step-by-step instructions on how to crack and eat this delicious treat, visit the useful website of the Gulf of Maine Research Institute (www.gma.org/lobsters) or check out the How to Eat page at www.lobsterfrommaine.com.

If you want to get closer to the lobstering process, join a lobster boat tour; they operate out of numerous coastal towns.