First Bites

Luke's Lobster Opens in Brickell City Centre

Luke's Lobster has sailed into Miami and is officially open for business at Brickell City Centre. What began as a pint-size shop in Manhattan's East Village in 2009 has grown to include locations in Washington, D.C.; Boston; Philadelphia; and even Tokyo. Luke's signature item is the Maine lobster roll, which has been ranked among the best by publications such as Thrillist, Time Out, CBS, and the Wall Street Journal.

The company's cofounder and president, Ben Conniff, says the decision to come to Miami was an obvious one because of New York's connection with the Magic City. "Brickell City Centre is a really exciting new development right in the heart of things, and there are so many people we can reach here," explains Conniff, who was in town for the grand opening.

Both the eatery's decor and the menu are pared down to highlight the seafood. The most popular item is the classic lobster roll ($17). It features a quarter-pound of chilled wild-caught Maine lobster in a warm split-top bun with melted lemon butter, mayonnaise, and Luke's signature seasoning. The lobster is remarkably fresh, and the seasoning is something special. It's not to be missed.
Proper sourcing is integral to Luke's success, and every lobster is handpicked from the lobstermen at the dock. Luke's sister company, Cape Seafood, immediately cleans and steams the lobster to preserve freshness and quality. Maine native and former lobsterman Luke Holden started the business and continues to control every step of the supply chain to ensure that only topnotch, sustainable seafood is served at every location. What's more, Holden led the charge to create the Tenants Harbor Fisherman's Co-op in Maine, the first fishermen’s co-op to be vertically integrated with a restaurant group and processing company.

In addition to the must-try lobster roll, Luke's offers a crab roll ($13) and a shrimp roll ($9), and for $19 you can sample all three. There's also clam chowder ($6 to $9), lobster tails, a tail-and-kale salad ($15), and even a crab-and-Gruyère grilled cheese sandwich ($10). In about a week, Conniff says, Luke's will have its beer license and will serve local beers from breweries such as Funky Buddha and Wynwood Brewing Company. Luke's also offers key lime pie from Miami's very own Fireman Derek's Bake Shop.

If all goes well, expect to see more Luke's Lobster locations in Miami, Conniff says. The small chain will soon be joined at Brickell City Centre by Pubbelly Sushi; Tacology Taqueria, from the owners of Cantina La Veinte; Dr Smood; and many other eateries. A 38,000-square-foot Italian food hall is also slated to open in the spacious indoor/outdoor mall.

Luke's Lobster is open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 7 p.m.

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Valeria Nekhim was born in the Ukraine and raised in Montreal. She has lived in Manhattan and Miami. Her favorite part of food writing is learning the stories of chefs and restaurateurs.