Everyone knows Southerners love grits. Is a breakfast without grits even breakfast? We put grits with nearly everything or serve them all on their own. In the Lowcountry marshes of the Southern Coast, shrimp and grits have always been a beloved breakfast. However, It wasn't until 1985 when Chef Bill Neal, a self-taught cook in North Carolina, had his shrimp and grits recipe recognized in the New York Times that the dish gained national fame and ultimately made its way down to New Orleans.
New Orleans is not one to pass on a dish involving seafood and grits, two of the most loved and readily available ingredients in Louisiana Cuisine. Until my adult life and culinary education, I assumed the shrimp and grits dish was born in Louisiana. We have adopted shrimp and grits into our family of loved dishes. New Orleans is full of multiple versions of Lowcountry classics and lucky for you, they aren't just for breakfast anymore. You can find this iconic dish at some of the city's finest restaurants and small, lesser-known establishments where you can enjoy it while sitting on park benches, using paper napkins to wipe up the mess you are about to make. Here are a few of my local favorites that serve the best shrimp and grits in New Orleans.
333 St. Charles Ave
Luke is well known for its shrimp and grits, and it's no mystery why. Jumbo shrimp and bits of green onion and andouille sausage are piled atop creamy jalapeño cheese grits and served in a cast-iron pan that keeps your grits warm and soft until the last bite. Bringing it all together is a light tomato-based sauce emulsified with butter and thin like a broth. If you plan well or are lucky, you will wander in during their happy hour from 3-7.ot only can you enjoy this Lowcountry classic with a Louisiana twist, but there are also $1 raw oysters and half-off their signature cocktails. Plan accordingly because there is a chance a quick bite will turn into a full over-indulgent afternoon
1800 Magazine St
At first glance, Gris-Gris' shrimp and grits look very understated and simple however, with the first bite, it becomes apparent that this simple dish packs a lot of flavors. Creamy grits are gently surrounded by delicate tomato sauce and topped with perfectly cooked shrimp, cherry tomatoes, and smoked sausage. The chef has managed to create one of the lightest shrimp and grits I have ever had without sacrificing the guilty pleasure of this iconic Southern dish. If you are a foodie and like to be part of the action, sit at the bar and watch the kitchen assemble and send out their expert creations.
Surreys Juice Bar
1408 Magazine St and 4807 Magazine St
Surreys is great for those of us who want good shrimp and grits but prefer to stay in our yoga pants for the day. Their version is less Lowcountry style, replacing the tomato broth-style sauce with a New Orleans bbq Sauce. The New Orleans bbq shrimp sauce is a butter-based sauce with Worcestershire and Louisiana spices. For some balance, sip on one of their homemade juice combinations as you enjoy this decadent New Orleans BBQ-style shrimp and grits.
201 Royal St
On the search for a classic New Orleans experience? Head to the quarter and Mr. B's. Well-known for their BBQ shrimp, it only makes sense their shrimp and grits are some of the best in the city. The shrimp is bacon-wrapped and served with red-eye gravy and creamy grits. Mr. B's is by far one of the most recommended restaurants for travelers who want to enjoy the quarter and not fall into a tourist trap of overpriced, sub-par food.
901 Lousiana Ave
There is no way we could skip this one. Many food critics, celebrity chefs, and local food lovers have declared Cafe Atchfalya's shrimp and grits as one of the best in the city. Jumbo shrimp is served with rich grits cooked to creamy perfection, all surrounded by a deep red-brown sauce that has become synonymous with New Orleans- style shrimp and grits. I was lucky to get my few bites before my dinner companions cleared the bowl and went searching for bread to wipe up the last of the sauce. That sauce will stay on your mind as you lay down for the nap you'll need after savoring every bite.
Heard Dat Kitchen
2520 Felicity St
Don't be intimidated or lost when you pull up to Heard Dat Kitchen. When you first walk up you will see a line of park benches surrounding a single door. Simply head down a narrow corridor toward a lovely lady behind a small window ready to take your order. The father and daughter chef team make dishes that make the to-go containers they come in feel like a master of disguise. While they do have blackened shrimp and grits, I recommend being adventurous and getting the Bensons Boogie which includes blackened fish served over creamy grits with their signature crawdad sauce and fried shrimp.
READ MORE: New Orleans Sazerac Cocktail Recipe
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