Is Shrimp and Grits a Southern Thing?

Shrimp and GritsFrom Humble Beginnings to Haute Cuisine, Shrimp and grits has been a Southern staple for centuries – perhaps even millennia. So named for their gritty texture, grits were passed from local native tribes, who ground it from hominy, on to newcomers. The Gullah people of South Carolina’s coastal islands were probably the first to combine grits with the shrimp they caught, and Gullah writings from long ago describe how they savored dishes we would recognize as our modern shrimp and grits.


Photo courtesy of Callies Biscuits

While traditionally it was prepared simply and eaten for breakfast, it took on a star turn in the 1980s when a North Carolina restaurateur created a new twist on the old stalwart, jazzed up with cheeses, mushrooms and bacon. When iconic food writer Craig Claiborne sampled and wrote about the dish, its reputation took off nationwide and beyond. Shrimp and grits hasn’t looked back since.

There’s No Place Like Home in Beaufort

But nowhere is shrimp and grits more special than in South Carolina, where local shrimp are prized for their superb sweetness and succulence. Beaufort is ground zero for local shrimping due to the marshy, warm water habitat favored by the delicious crustaceans. Visitors come from far and wide for a chance to experience this incomparable treat.

beaufort shrimp

Since 1995, they’ve come every autumn for the Beaufort Shrimp Festival, a celebration of Lowcountry cuisine featuring shrimp specialties. But how best to enjoy it with so many tempting preparations on offer – boiled with a bit of spice, broiled to buttery perfection, crispy fried shrimp, or the king of them all, shrimp and grits?

Mediterranean Shrimp & Grits

Photo courtesy of TripAdvisor

Panini’s Delicious Take on Shrimp and Grits

Panini’s Mediterranean Shrimp & Grits infuses the time-honored favorite with a unique medley of Italian flavors – the richness of polenta with pancetta (Italian bacon), butter, onions, olives, tomatoes, the tangy spark of preserved lemon, and herbal perfume of basil. Priced at $16, this dish has lingered in the memories of many a diner at Panini’s.

★★★★★ - Aire B. of Pittsburgh, PA raves on TripAdvisor: “I had the Mediterranean Shrimp and Grits for my lunch and I'm still thinking about them! I'm not usually a big lemon-in-my-dish fan, but the preserved lemon in this was so wonderful! It helped to balance all of the flavors so nicely.”

★★★★★ - Another TripAdvisor rave comes from Amy M. of Jacksonville, Florida: “Incredible, flavorful food - our new favorite!....I went for the shrimp & grits and I think I embarrassed my family by going on and on about how delicious it was!”

★★★★★ - “Had shrimp just about every place on Bay St. And this was one of the best.” - cvx1214, TripAdvisor reviewer

dine outside in Beaufort SC

Shrimp and Grits…and So Much More

Panini’s is located on historic Bay Street. You can enjoy the Mediterranean Shrimp and Grits in the gracious indoor dining area or the River Deck overlooking the Atlantic waterfront. Relax and enjoy a fantastic meal with friends or family with a prime view of the fascinating variety of maritime traffic, from chartered fishing boats, to private yachts, to skiffs and everything in between. Your whole party will be spoiled for choice with Panini’s other menu choices like crusty brick-oven-baked pizza with fresh toppings, their famous namesake paninis, and many other entrées, pasta and salad selections!!

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