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Where Y’Eat: A Buoyant Seafood Boil with Mr. Shrimp

A sampling of seafood dishes at Mr. Shrimp's Kitchen
Ian McNulty
A sampling of seafood dishes at Mr. Shrimp's Kitchen

They find their way over to the food court from the convention center next door, or from the nearby cruise ship terminal or maybe just on their lunch break from the casino and hotels down the street.

They come with boiled seafood and shrimp pasta on their minds. On their tongues, many also have the name Mr. Shrimp.

More than a few holler out his name while approaching the counter to order, spotting this shellfish impresario working the stove.

Mr. Shrimp is Larry Thompson Jr., and I’ve been following his journey in the New Orleans food world for a while. That’s what led me recently to his new walk-up restaurant, Mr. Shrimp’s Kitchen. It’s an unlikely find for excellent boiled seafood and seafood of other stripes in the food court of the Riverwalk outlet mall.

I started hearing about Mr. Shrimp from chefs. Thompson started out as a supplier to restaurants, bringing a uniquely personal link between their menus and the docks in Lafitte.

His food court restaurant is new, and recently I returned with a colleague to show her why I love it. This really is one of the best parts of working my beat as a food writer, sharing that joy of discovery with others, and Mr. Shrimp was a gratifying revelation yet again.

We took our meal through the food court’s common seating area and found an outdoor table on a deck overlooking the Mississippi River.

Mr. Shrimp has his own branded boil mix, dubbed “Throw It in the Pot.” I love that name, and it brings a robust spice without being spicy hot, accentuating the sweet-savory balance of the shellfish itself. Local shrimp and clusters of Dungeness crabs spilled over from a tray bolstered by boiled turkey necks, which we stripped down to the bone.

Mr. Shrimp’s product and recipes are delicious. But there’s more at play here. The man comes at you with a whole lot of goodwill and uplift, and we need more of that in the world for sure. You come for the boil, and may leave feeling a bit more buoyant.

Ian covers food culture and dining in New Orleans through his weekly commentary series Where Y’Eat.