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55: Shrimp and Grits at Smack Shack

Throughout its evolution from food truck to late-night dive bar hibernation spot to full-fledged fancy brick-and-mortar operation, Smack Shack has staked its reputation on a single item: the lobster roll.

While that east coast favorite is still sandwich perfection (the warm, butter-slathered Connecticut-style version is worth a try, too), this year we discovered that Smack Shack does more than one thing well. What convinced us? The spicy, satisfying dish of shrimp and grits.

See also: Bourbon Oyster Shooter at Smack Shack: A protein-packed drink of the week

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Served in an adorable cast iron casserole, this Southern-inspired entree starts with perfect creamy grits - heirloom grits, to be exact. Before you wrinkle up your nose and mutter something sarcastic about how the Minneapolis restaurant scene is inching closer and closer to becoming a real-life Portlandia sketch, understand that achieving the right texture of grits for a Southerner is like learning to making perfect rice for a sushi chef. It's a foundational skill, and you need the right product in order to do it. At Smack Shack, they use grits from Anson Mills, an organic producer in South Carolina.

Atop the starchy base is a generous serving of garlicky, slightly smoky jumbo shrimp and thick rounds of Andouille sausage. But what truly makes this dish so alluring is the elegant, deeply spicy sauce. The smooth gravy has a proper roux base, a little tomato for brightness, and it pulls everything together in this comfort food masterpiece.

Next time you visit the Shack, challenge yourself to look beyond the lobster.

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