Fresh shrimp is the bait at Tampa’s Shrimp & Co.

Crawfish, shrimp and smoked sausage dunk in a spicy Louisiana Steam Pot

Crawfish, shrimp and smoked sausage dunk in a spicy Louisiana Steam Pot

Its sign says “Welcome to the Beach’’ but there’s not a wave to be seen.

Turkish-born Levent Cilek, Shrimp & Co. owner, does see water when he goes to the docks for some 250 pounds of shellfish to cook.

Cilek tossed pizzas and cooked Italian before opening his Seventh Avenue location, a time-weathered, storefront. Tattered menus, strings of white lights, a frozen drink machine, plastic tablecloths, and a thatched valence contribute to the island look.

“I feel the love here,’’ Levent says about his landlocked beach bar, situated diagonally across from the Columbia Restaurant in Tampa’s Ybor City. Customers park in Levent’s lot to eat there but he trusts they will be reeled in to his place the next time (when they notice the lines later in the evening.)

Shrimp’s menu has a dozen or so appetizers, more than two dozen entrees, plus sandwiches and burgers.

“I love New Orleans. I went to Marti Gras all the time and I can’t eat anything without hot sauce,’’ says Levent. His habanero hot sauce blend makes a noticeable addition to Cajun choices such as popcorn crawfish, oyster bayou, and oyster and shrimp po’ boys.

Start with a cup of homemade soup like clam chowder, shrimp bisque, spicy crab enchilada with angel hair pasta, or seafood gumbo, served on weekends. You-peel-‘em pink shrimp: seven, large, shellfish (all but one being headless) are boiled in an Old Bay seasoning.

Main dishes include fried crawfish, mahi mahi, chicken strips and clams. Other entrees include grilled, blackened, Caribbean mojo, or garlic butter-topped grouper, tilapia, catfish, scallops or salmon, along with Tornado (a fillet stuffed with shrimp scampi), soft shell crabs, pasta and ceviche.

Nothing is scrimpy about Shrimp & Co.’s  you-peel-‘em shrimp

Nothing is scrimpy about Shrimp & Co.’s you-peel-‘em shrimp

I recommend the Shrimp and Co. gulf shrimp, which brims with French fries, slaw and hush puppies. Louisiana Steam Pot: a dozen you-peel-‘em crawfish, eight Gulf shrimp, with Andouille sausage, red potatoes and corn-on-the-cob, has nice heat from its mojo boil and hot sauce. It’s a bit heavy-handed with the garlic butter. Mogofono elevates mashed plantains with bacon and shrimp.  Lightly fried, Caribbean Lobster po’ boy, made from the tail of the crustacean, works.

Cheesecake, strawberry short cake, Key lime pie and Gasparilla Madness — which pairs chocolate empanadas with caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream — are the four sweets.

Service is OK, sometimes our waiter was distracted; other times efficient.

Shrimp & Co. Restaurant
2202 E. 7th Avenue
Tampa, FL;
813-374-0192.  No website
Hours: Mon. to Th., 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., Fri. and Sat., 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Serves beer and wine


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