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Barbeque Shrimp

I'm a Northerner going to New Orleans for the first time next month so I apologize if my questions sound silly.

When you eat barbeque shrimp, can you eat it with your hands or is that considered bad table manners? Is it okay to eat them with your hands even if you're in a fancy restaurant? Do people eat the shrimp with the shells on or do they take them off first?

I've read on the posts that Mr. B's Bistro serves great barbeque shrimp. Are there any other places you'd recommend for them, in the French Quarter or within wakling distance of the Quarter?


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  1. You def. do eat them with your hands, be prepared to get messy. They come head on, so you have to peel the shrimp before you eat it. I have been known to eat the shell on smaller shrimp that I do at home, but the bigger the shrimp the thicker the shell.

    1. Also, read up on barbeque shrimp before you go. They are not grilled, and there is no barbeque sauce. They're essentially head-on shrimp braised in loads up butter, pepper and others spices. If you like how that sounds, dig in. I read one post recently where the woman faulted the dish for not being what she expected. Glad you're doing your homework!

      3 Replies
      1. re: HalfShell

        Thanks for your help everyone. It's funny that you mention that HalfShell. I used to have a co-worker who went to Tulane. She told a story about how she went down to New Orleans for the first time when she started school and ordered barbeque shrimp. It was obviously not what she expected and she was shocked to see the heads still attached. I myself am looking forward to it!

        1. re: jericholic

          i have my own story like that. years ago when i was eating in a restaurant on the corner in jackson square that shall not be named, i ordered a softshell crab poboy for the first time. i love crab and figured it would be a big ole crab sammich similar to ones ive had in san diego. eyes kinda skipped over the "softshell" part... when they laid down what appeared to be a giant fried insect/alien, i was stunned into silence. i really didnt eat much of it. my friends, eating friend shrimp or oyster poboys took pity on me and cut me in on theirs.

          i didnt try it again for years, until jazzfest in '06. loved it! knowing what to expect certainly appears to have altered the way i experienced the dish.

          1. re: kibbles

            I had the same reaction. When hubby and I were dating he convinced me I'd enjoy it so I ordered one (from Coplands) and when it came to the table I just about died. I got over the look of it real quick.

      2. Mr. B's BBQ shrimp is astonishingly good. Definitely start there. And, yeah, use the bib.

        1. Seems you got the info you needed, but I will add one bit of advice. Don't discard the head right away. After you peel it off, suck the juices out of the cavity. Just like with crawfish there is good stuff in there that you don't wanna lose out on. It really is a fantastic dish and Mr. B's is about as good as it gets, I say go there. I also love Pascal's Manale, but they are Uptown and not nearby the quarter.


          1. I just had lunch at Mr. B's--first time for BBQ shrimp in NOLA after seeing it on the Food Network. As both my wife's partners said (NOLA natives for 40+ years)--this is the best BBQ shrimp outside of what you can make yourself on the Lake! The posters are correct that it is important for people to know what to expect--shrimp poached in butter/spice mixture. But as a non-BBQ country native, I think BBQ is a state of mind!

            The lunch portion was a perfect size 5-7 perfect size head on/shell on shrimps with three slices of fresh french bread. For an old Ohio boy like me, the shell took a little work but was absolutely worth it. I didn't suck out the juice from the head (my wife, an Outer Banks girl is surprisingly squeamish), but next time!

            Thank god for the bib (which has a plastic lining on back to keep the sauce from getting on you) and the lemon and hot-towels at the end (to let you go back to civilzation_

            1. Mr. B's is fantastic, and Bacco (another Brennan's restaurant in the FQ) is my close second. Actually never been to Pascale's Manale (another BBQ-shrimp original) based on friends who advised me against them.

              Eating BBQ Shrimp with your hands is strongly encouraged, even in the 'fancy' restaurants. And don't forget the best part of the BBQ shrimp-- dipping bread in the sauce!

              You could also go up to Liuzza's By The Track (not walking distance, but a short cab-ride up Esplanade) and get a BBQ shrimp po'boy-- actually I think you could base your entire trip on the pursuit of Shrimp (BBQ Shrimp, Shrimp & Grits and Fried Shrimp Po'Boys) and leave incredibly happy.

              1. I can't vouch for Mr. B's, but I hope to get there soon. Pascal's Manale is good, and convenient if you find yourself on the St. Charles streetcar line.

                One thing that shocked me as a Northerner was how big the shrimp are here. I was used to the little ones we got for shrimp cocktail at New Year's. These things can be almost as thick as my wrist. (Ok, there was only one that was ever that big, but it made an impression.) But that's good because they don't dry out as easily--which has always been my complaint about shrimp in general.

                1 Reply
                1. re: midcity

                  I really like Pascale Manales as well, but think Mr. B's trumps them for BBQ shrimp. I love the atmosphere at PM and it is a great place for oysters at the bar.

                2. Last time i was down in NOLA in April I had the BBQ Shrimp at Jacques-Imo's Cafe and they were awesome! Actually everything there is awesome. Make this a stop in Uptown!!

                  1. IMO, Crazy Johnny's in metry has the best around...period.

                    1. I will be coming home for the first time since Katrina next month - no, I'm from the left coast but sure feel like New Orleans must have been home in an earlier life. 5 things to remember about eating those terrific bbq shrimp at Mr. B' - 1) wear the bib 2) get extra napkins and warm moist towel 3) get extra bread to "sop up that sauce" 4) don't worry about lickin' those fingers or people watching you, because they are trying to learn "how" 5) Abita Amber sure goes great, but try not to grab the glass with all that "bbq licker" on your fingers!