A Wicked Maine Lobster roll, served Connecticut style (warm, with butter)
A lobster roll counter near the beach. That’s what I found when I ventured outside last weekend, looking for a little sunshine. Sometime in late spring, Wicked Maine Lobster took over what was originally a deli and coffee counter at Park 101. That’s the beer garden-slash-food courtyard that sits on the Coast Highway end of Carlsbad Village.
3040 Carlsbad Blvd, Carlsbad
As for Wicked, that’s the local business operated by Alex and Eric Howard, a pair of brothers from Maine. Alex first launched the brand as a booth at the Ocean Beach farmers market back in 2014. Many other farmers markets followed and gigs at music festivals (remember those?), including Coachella and Bonaroo.
I first recall encountering the lobster and clam chowder specialist when it signed on for its first fixed location, as one of the original vendors of the Liberty Public Market, then again a couple years after that when it expanded to the Little Italy Food Hall. So the addition of a Carlsbad location feels right on schedule, even if it’s had a pandemic to contend with.
Customers line up at the new Park 101 location of a local lobster roll counter.
A spaced-out line down the sidewalk suggests Wicked’s arrival in North County has been welcome — it seemed to be the most popular draw to Park 101 this weekend afternoon, and mostly locals by the looks of things. Maine lobster’s not a cheap ingredient, so while $21 might seem steep for a small sandwich served in a disposable cardboard container, the price tag for a lobster roll should come as no surprise.
It’s available Maine style — served cold with mayonnaise — though you can opt for Connecticut’s preferred style: warm with melted butter. If you’re too So Cal to be an East Coast purist, there’s always the option to get it California style, which includes bacon and avocado.
I stuck with butter so I could get a good look at the chunks of lobster topping the buttery Frankfurt roll. It’s mostly claw meat, sprinkled with Old Bay seasoning. Tender and flavorful, and though technically served on the wrong coast, beachy.
Locals, and maybe a few tourists, eating lobster and barbecue at Park 101
Little wonder Wicked has gone from market booth to growing chain. From the looks of things, it’s future plans are even more ambitious. As many as five new locations are planned, including one in National City, several in Los Angeles, and another in Waikiki, Oahu. A Maine via San Diego lobster joint in Hawaii sounds like the kind of world I’d like to live in. Here’s hoping this local success story doesn’t get derailed by viral circumstances.