The Best Shrimp and Grits in Charleston
Some will say its impossible to pick the best shrimp and grits in Charleston, and we won’t disagree. There are so many great restaurants and recipes in this city, it’s hard to pick the very best. So we’ll settle for a top 5 among our favorites. Many folks arrive here having never even heard of shrimp and grits, but those of us who live here have our preferred versions of the dish, and they can be wildly different. This Lowcountry specialty obviously contains both shrimp and grits, but the rest of the recipe is left mostly up to the cook’s own interpretation, of which there are many. Nearly all of them are pretty darn delicious. Here are five local restaurants that really know what they’re doing in the shrimp and grits department:
Early Bird Diner
This super casual diner is a local hangout as well as a well-known fave among those who tune into Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. The shrimp and grits is on the breakfast, dinner, and brunch menus. It’s a favorite because of the sauces — the shrimp is fried with sweet and spicy jelly, or you can alternatively have it sauteed with tomato-bacon gravy. The grits are so good you don’t even want to know the recipe since nothing this good comes without a hefty caloric price. Oh, and they bottle and sell the sauces so you can take these delightful flavors home with you.
82 Queen serves the best grits in town, hands down, and have for many years. Their secret involves zero water, and the consistency reminds us of one of grits’ most well known nicknames: Georgia ice cream. After the grits are plated, they’re sprinkled with cheddar cheese and placed under the broiler for melting then topped with crumbled and crispy applewood-smoked bacon, diced green onions, and, the star of the show, sauteed shrimp in sweet barbecue sauce. And it’s to die for.
Husk’s shrimp and grits are next-level indulgent, and you’d expect nothing less from James Beard Award winner and nationally renowned Chef Sean Brock. Fresh shrimp is added, in a single layer, to creamy grits along with a good, warming, comforting amount of flavorful broth. Along with local Anson Mills’ stone ground grits, the dish also contains tasso ham, house wood-smoked tomatoes, mushrooms, bacon, shallots, smoked paprika, lemon juice, and minced parsley — a dream.
Slightly North of Broad
Chef Frank Lee has had this popular dish on his menu for many years. It’s a staple. His recipe actually won a GQ Magazine Golden Dish Award back in 1994. Made with both scallops and shrimp, the dish calls for all the pork: both country ham and smoked andouille sausage. He also uses fresh tomato, green onion, and creamy grits (of course you won’t find a bowl of non-creamy grits on a top-five list). Lee’s grits calls for stone-ground yellow grits and a fourth of a cup of cream. The secret? Slow-cook those grits in water for 30 to 40 minutes before adding the cream.
Nigel’s Good Food
This North Charleston gem is off the beaten track but offers some of the best soul food you’re likely to find in Charleston — and it’s also the most authentic. You’ll love their shrimp po’boy (one of the best, by Louisiana standards, too), crab and shrimp ravioli with corn and plenty of pepper, and, of course, their shrimp and grits. This dish is also spicy with its healthy helping of incredible sausage and is, with its creamy grits, overall one of the most flavorful shrimp and grits in town.
Where’s your favorite place to order this Lowcountry specialty?