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Charleston SC shrimp and grits

One of the most essential of Carolina Lowcountry foods, visitors and locals can have a look here at who makes the best shrimp and grits (and contributors can rank theirs, if they like, on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being good. Please offer the price if possible)

THE SWAMP FOX: $13.25 lunch $18.25 dinner
Rating: ? (this was my first ever shrimp and grits so I don't know what to rank it)

This was a decent-sized bowl of thick-like soup that was actually pepper jack grits dunked in a lobster and tasso ham gravy. The rich combination had a very distinctive sweet/salty/spicy mix, almost Asian in taste, with bits of Vidalia onion and bell pepper coming to the surface every now and then. The five large shrimp hitting the pool were almost crumbly-tender, and it was overall a very rich and potent broth that was very tasty (and award-winning, according to the restaurant, though what that award is isn't said).

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  1. MARINA VARIETY STORE: "The Bear Island Specialty" L$8.99/D$14.50

    The wooden booths and nautical theme relay a typical family-priced steak and seafood joint situated serenely at the crowded city marina and peering over the marshy grasses of the Ashley River. The shallow dish presented an amalgam of color, incuding a white sphere of butter-laden grits topped with a brothy caramel-colored ladling of gravy and interspersed with the green and white of crunchy bell peppers and onions. Punctuating it come seven tightly-curled shrimp, their tenderness on the unenviable side, poking through almost hidden among the soup. More obvious is a small gathering of cubed sausage on the side, its striking robustness a lumpy contrast to the richness of the grits and gravy. But stringily and both undercooked and overdone, the scattering of onions and peppers provide a crunchy sharpness to the smooth base Overall, this dish lacks in the complexity of The Swamp Fox's offering, if not the richness, as the butter quantity is obvious, the sausage profound, and the overall sidling down one's throat unmistakable, disrupted only by the bite of the not-quite-tender enough shrimp.

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    Marina Variety Store and Restaurant
    17 Lockwood Dr Ste E, Charleston, SC 29401

    2 Replies
    1. re: observor

      RATING: 5, not interesting, but not off-putting either.

      1. re: observor

        Enjoyed my BEST Shrimp and Grits today actually, at Anson - where they still continue to grind their own grits and cornmeal with a stone; with Anson's Bacon and tomatoes, truly delicious.

      2. HOMINY GRILL: L+D $16.95

        The simplicity of the frilly curtains, table-side lamps, and wooden floors, tables, and high-backed chairs of the well-publicized restaurant indicates the food. It comes forward in a plate - no bowl here- of shrimp and grits, a marshmallow fluff-like circle of grits scattered with seven medium-sized shrimp, and blanketed by a spray of mushrooms, scallions, and bacon. This is simplicity refined; the grits are smooth and pure, the shrimp flavorful without requiring seasoning, and the remainder sauteed to indescribable tenderness. No overwhelming richness and gravy to be found, this is essential food. For those seeking a simple, pure, and basic shrimp and grits meal, this is the plate for you. For $16.95? It would likely be once.

        11 Replies
        1. re: observor

          Hominy Grill has my favorite shrimp and grits. Price aside, I think their grits are exactly what grits should be, and I like being able to taste all the flavors, not just the "gravy" that some recipes use.

          1. re: BetsyinKY

            I can understand that, it is simple and good. But I would not tell someone to get it because I am pretty sure you can get something like it at less price.

            1. re: observor

              I know that makes me seem cheap, but, please, ladies and gentlemen, let us not ignore tax and tip, $20 for a small plate of grits with some shrimp on it?

          2. re: observor

            The breakfast portion actually does come in a bowl, or it did last time I had it.

            I recommend the shrimp and grits at Boulevard Diner. Comes with a fried pickle.

            1. re: General Knowledge

              I second the Mt. Pleasant Boulevard Diner recommendation- a large bowl of coarse (in a good way) yellow grits with tangy cheddar sauce throughout. Too many shrimp for an accurate count, as they keep on showing up amongst the tomatoes and onions even when you think you've eaten them all already. A couple of fried pickle spears tucked in at the edge of the dish are all important. $9 at lunch, I believe- I've never been able to finish the serving on my own.
              I think the quality of ingredients is comparable to Hominy Grill (possibly smaller-sized shrimp, but many more of them), but with less emphasis on presentation.

              1. re: lagniappe

                S.N.O.B. has the best shrimp and grits i have ever had

                1. re: jeffbatl

                  As much as I love Boulevard Diner, I don't like cheese in my shrimp and grits. SNOB has great S'N'G, as does High Cotton.

                  I do the best shrimp and grits at my house. nuf said.

                  1. re: Sue in Mt P

                    ditto...I'm having a hard time not calling cheese in s&g "nasty"

                    1. re: Sue in Mt P

                      I agree, I'm not a fan. The cheeses is too much, imo, and when it gets lukewarm it's disgusting.

                    2. re: jeffbatl

                      Huh, guess I'm in the minority for liking cheese in my shrimp and grits. When I make it at home, though, I put the cheese in the grits, not the sauce.

                2. re: observor

                  RATING for Hominy Grill: 8

                  Simple and pure, too bad the price was not simple.

                3. I am surprised at how varied shrimp and grits can be.I think the less rich version is more desirable...having butter and/or cream laden grits with the sausage and the gravy is too rich.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: observor

                    Can anyone give their opinion of the shrimp and grits at Carolina's? I'm having brunch there on Sunday.

                    Thank you.

                  2. BOULEVARD DINER: L$9/D$13
                    RATING: 2

                    The interior of the Boulevard Diner is as undescriptive as its title, and the shrimp and grits here come served in a cereal bowl, slathering over the edge and appearing like nacho cheese dip. The yellow grits are quite coarse, not a good thing in my thoughts, and the cheddar cheese taste nearly consumes the grits. Minuscule bits of tomato and scallion are present, but they are too small to be of any impact. Nine smaller shrimp are submerged, their tenderness needing more, and two fried pickle spears are tucked at the side. Notably, there is no meat (or gravy) aspect. I cannot recommend this product, as it seems to be a rather uninteresting mess.

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                    Boulevard Diner
                    409 W Coleman Blvd, Mount Pleasant, SC 29464

                    1 Reply
                    1. ANSON: $9
                      RATING: 10

                      A transcendental experience awaits those who take part in the impressive shrimp and grits offered by Anson. Though not large (it is a first course), this is a perfect composition of food. The cream and right-tender grits are evenly met by bits of flavorful housemade bacon, both escorted by the fruity bathing of a great tomato gravy. Almost like pinatas spinning in a divine place, six corkscrew-shaped shrimp are tenderness perfected, while bits of green onion are the bite. The only downside is the end.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: observor

                        I concur 100%. Hands-down the best. And yes, I was sorry it ended :)

                      2. I give The Swamp Fox a rating of 4 for too much richness.

                        1. SAFFRON CAFE AND BAKERY: B/$6.95
                          Rating: 3

                          A brown carpet of gravy in a tiny cereal bowl masks what's beneath, except, that is, for innumerable lumps of small shrimp. The grits are quite mild and without any rich addtion, and seventeen is how many tender shrimp are present. But the gravy must come right from a jar (or even packet?) with its loud sodium fakeness and there is nothing else to the dish (no meat or vegetables), so not much recommendation.

                          1. HIGH COTTON: D/$21
                            Rating: 1

                            This is an exorbitant price for poorly prepared food. Nine medium shrimp come nicely arranged among a mess of other qualities, but the impression is of incohesiveness. The dish was cold, the shrimp incredibly flavorless and without seasoning and not tender, the grits hit-and-miss clumps, the vegetables a too-crunchy presence, the sausage barely there except for an overly spicy blast occasionally, and the dish overall completely flavorless. It was also a small portion.

                            1. S.N.O.B.: L$11.50/D$16.50
                              Rating: 6.5

                              A pleasing composition of ingredients lacking in both flavor and heat (though not of the Scoville sort), the assortment is a perfect mix of color and balance. Coarse ground, corny yellow grits sit beneath 10 smaller and not-tender-enough shrimp, a right amount of bland housemade sausage, solid chunks of tomatoes, and too much green onion. The mixture is tinted by an orange gravy, though not with much richness, and a kick lingers after the notable lack of flavor. Perhaps the biggest problem is no heat, which is remedied easily enough, but the lack of flavor is problematic, especially since garlic is supposed to be in there, but I did not taste it. Composition, fantastic, otherwise not very impressive.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: observor

                                I've had the Shrimp and Grits at S.N.O.B. and I can't say much for the flavors. Observor is right, no kick and very ordinary flavors. I wish I could find a place in Charleston that makes a fried grits cake with a spicy blush cream sauce studded with Shrimp like the Gulfstream Cafe made (no longer) in the Myrtle Beach area.

                                1. re: TBoneTom

                                  Salt Creek Cafe makes them like that in Murrells Inlet, The owner used to be the managing partner at Gulf Stream.....they are out of this world!

                                  http://myrtle-beach.visitsouth.com/

                              2. Everybody loves a Yankee!