500 Po Boys: Mr. Shrimp’s Kitchen

Bragging about selling locally caught Louisiana seafood but actually plating up fishes from Vietnam, China or some other far-off land has been a feature of New Orleans restaurant life since the first Creole cooks fired up cast-iron pots filled with daube glacé.

That Hollygrove fish fry joint touting Des Allemands catfish? It just might be Swai or Basa, frozen, then shipped in from thousands of miles away.

Larry Thompson Jr. aka Mr Shrimp, offers a fried shrimp ‘rich boy.’ Thompson only sells locally caught seafood.

The lodestar at Mr. Shrimp’s Kitchen is genuine, fresh Louisiana seafood. Owner and chef de cuisine Larry Thompson Jr routinely treks two hours round trip to Lafitte, Louisiana where he loads up a truck filled with local fish, crabs and shrimps straight off the docks and direct from the fishermen earning a living down the bayou.

Larry Thompson Jr. and ‘Cousin Shrimp’ inside Thompson’s cafe at Riverwalk Outlet Mall.

It’s not far, distance-wise from the 7th Ward where Thompson grew up under the watchful eye of his grandma, the legendary cook Olantha ‘Mama Peaches’ Richardson but it may as well be the other side of the galaxy.

Staff members at Mr. Shrimp’s Kitchen inside Riverwalk Outlet Mall in New Orleans.

A cycle of community-based economy is happening through Mr. Shrimp’s hands. Buy local fish, pay local fishermen, hire and pay local workers – and finally – feed all the locals and tourists you can when they step up to the counter at Thompson’s cafe inside Riverwalk Outlet Mall on the Mississippi River in downtown New Orleans.

On my first visit a little lagniappe is offered the moment I approach the counter. It’s an enormous U-10 shrimp hot out of a big boil pot riding a gas flame just a few feet away. You need to huff and puff on the thing a little bit so you don’t burn your mouth.

A ‘rich boy’ from Mr. Shrimp’s Kitchen. Only locally caught seafood is served here.

Oh, and it will be the freshest shrimp you ever put in your mouth in the city proper.

We may as well be at an old line French traiteur perched on the edge of Boulogne-sur-Mer harbor; no one would be the wiser.

The good chef’s proprietary boil seasoning ‘Throw It In the Pot’ hits like a freightliner. There’s not a lot of chile pepper heat but it’s a tremendous umambi bomb of pure Creole flavor. I could take down a dozen of these shrimps but at heart I’m just an old school po boy roughneck looking for his next fix.

The patio at Mr. Shrimp’s Kitchen offers a commanding view of the Mississippi River.

Thompson was already a seasoned restaurant cook when his father fell ill a few years ago. Taking care of his dad drove him to refine the pedigree he had begun developing all those years ago in the 7th Ward.

When his papa passed away Chef Larry threw himself headlong into becoming a fresh seafood vendor and after innumerable twists, turns and vagaries of fortune the man can now be found every day at Riverwalk Outlet mall selling fresh fish dishes that would bring triple the price at the grand dame restaurants of New Orleans.

There are no white tablecloths at Mr. Shrimp’s but there might as well be.

Larry Thompson Jr aka Mr. Shrimp cooks one of the best boiled seafood plates in all of New Orleans.

Chef Larry Thompson Jr is hard at work seven days a week at his cafe in the Riverwalk mall. Somewhere up above his father Larry Sr. and his grandmother Mama Peaches are surely smiling down on his efforts to feed New Orleans

Mr. Shrimp’s Kitchen
500 Port of New Orleans Pl.
New Orleans, Louisiana

The crew at Mr. Shrimp’s Kitchen.

2 Comments 500 Po Boys: Mr. Shrimp’s Kitchen

  1. Matt henry

    Hello Mr. RL. I am a long time reader of the blog. I wrote to you many years ago because you had referenced a BBQ stand outside of Leeds, Alabama which is semi close to where I live. You gave me directions but conceded that you didn’t know if it was still open. I’ve searched high and low for that email but can’t find it. Do you recall the directions as you once gave them to me? Even if it is closed, I’d still be interested to find out what it was called because we only ever knew about Rustys in Leeds, which I do not like. Thanks for any help.


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