When I first told my friends I was going to DC for residency, the first thing they told me was to get used to the traffic, politics, and Old Bay. So far, I've got 2 down, and one to go. And wouldn't ya know it, with seafood on the brain, I began to yearn for the lobsters I had the last time I drove up to Maine. Luckily enough, I was able to find a place to get my lobster roll fix at Luke's Lobster down in Penn Quarter. My uncle decided to come along to try this place out too, so I had an extra set of food to try as well. =)
Originally a New York creation, Luke's Lobster has migrated down to DC along with a number of other NYC standbys like Shake Shack. Normally, I'm not a fan of New York pretension and costliness, but Luke's seems different. They source all their lobster straight from Maine, and the cozy (read: tiny) little storefront feel when you walk inside makes you feel like you're closer to the Maine docks where the lobster boats moor.
The main menu is 3 items long, and they're all rolls. You can have your choice of chilled shrimp, crab, or lobster, and each is served atop a toasted New England bun (looks like a slice of bread folded in half) with some light mayo, lemon butter, and Luke's "secret spices."
Of course, my fix would only be satisfied with a lobster roll, so that's what I ordered. It comes with a quarter pound of lobster meat, so you do get what you pay for, but be appropriately forewarned if you were thinking of rolling in and getting a $5 lobster roll. If that's you, opt for the bacteria-laden sushi at the gas-n-go instead.
I'm not a fan of mayo, so I asked for none and extra butter instead. Definitely give that a try if you're not too high on mayo, because it makes the lobster taste awesome. Serving it chilled is something I'm not a big fan of either, but it's authentic, I guess. The lobster meat is truly juicy, succulent, and with the spices & butter, incredibly delicious with that hint of the sea when you bite into it. The buttered roll is perfectly toasted so that it provides a nice little crunch to go along with the seafood.
My uncle ordered the crab roll, which was also pretty incredible if you're into crab. I personally like lobster better because it doesn't break up into stringy pieces, but this roll was mouth-watering, crisply fresh, and well-seasoned as well. Mayo works a little better here than it does with the lobster roll.
For satisfying my craving for authentic Maine lobster, but for making my wallet cry a little, Luke's Lobster earns 3.5 Cherries.