If you go
POBOYS SHRIMP SHACK
Where: 10823 U.S. 41 (corner of 108th Avenue North), North Naples
When: 11a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday
Information: 239-260-1205 or poboysshrimpshack.com
"Shrimp is the fruit of the sea. You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, sauté it. There’s, um, shrimp kebabs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo, pan-fried, deep-fried, stir-fried. There’s pineapple shrimp and lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich ... That’s, that’s about it.”
Nobody described shrimp better than the character of Bubba Blue in the above-referenced quote from the modern classic film "Forrest Gump." Uber-talented Mykelti Williamson hit the nail on the head for all of us shrimp lovers when he spoke of his character's favorite cuisine.
Bubba would feel right at home in a new place in North Naples called PoBoys Shrimp Shack. An entire eatery devoted to the little crustaceans.
To ensure an accurate review, I called in the big guns: my father-in-law, Buzzy Merritt. Buzzy could give Bubba and Forrest both a run for their money when it comes to knowing good shrimp. And despite the overabundance (if there could ever be such a thing) of shrimp dishes in Naples, there are so few places that do shrimp well. I also wanted to make sure PoBoys Shrimp Shack had something for land-lubbers, so my mother-in-law Peggy, who doesn't eat seafood, joined us.
The verdict is that while PoBoys Shrimp Shack has a large menu full of all sorts of proteins, Bubba and Forrest would be proud to eat there. For starters, the coconut shrimp is ridiculous. I've never eaten coconut shrimp without the standard mango or other such chutney — PoBoys Shrimp Shack coconut shrimp was such succulent, crispy-juicy-crunchy sweetness that it was fine by itself. In fact, the remoulade sauce they served with it actually detracted from the shrimp. It was definitely the best coconut shrimp I've had since coming to Naples three years ago.
The boom boom shrimp (which is like Buffalo shrimp) was also good, but after the coconut shrimp I felt downright unfaithful eating anything else. The chipotle lime shrimp was bursting with flavor and, for island flavor aficionados, the Hawaiian with tropical fruit shrimp is made with pure honey, soy sauce and ginger, tangy pineapple, papaya and a little mango. Diners who love Asian flavors will relish the sesame ginger shrimp with soy sauce, toasted sesame, ginger, garlic and Mandarin orange juice. All of the above shrimp dishes and several others on the menu are $10.99 and the portions and flavors were more than sufficient to justify the price.
PoBoy's combos are great because they let you try more than one dish. Buzzy had the fried oyster and fried shrimp combo and nary a crumb was left. The fried plate combos come in "pick two" and "pick three" plates for $12.99 and $14.99, respectively. They are served with a choice of homemade fries or onion rings, or you can add a side salad for $1.99.
Fried plates are varied and include Cajun or beer-battered fried shrimp, fish and chips, sea scallops, oysters and whole-belly clams — all for $10.99 each among other options. Chicken fingers are $9.99. You can't beat the chicken tenders (yes, I said chicken tenders).
The chicken tenders, which I usually relegate as sell-out kiddie food, were stupendous. The moist and tender tenders were perfectly cooked.
They are also very good as one of PoBoys Shrimp Shack's "extra salad toppers" and at just $2.99 in addition to the cost of the salad, a great deal because you get so much chicken. Other extra salad toppers include grilled shrimp or fish, or grilled or fried chicken.
No wonder the burgers — and there are five to choose from — are also very good at PoBoys Shrimp Shack. Owner/Operator Shawn Teeters formerly owned the Cheeburger Cheeburger franchise in Naples Park for 16 years.
We did not have these, but some of the appetizers include conch fritters ($8.75) and salty pearl oysters on the half shell ($8.99 for six, $14.99 for a dozen). Of course you can get myriad PoBoy sandwiches, including fried shrimp, blackened shrimp, fried oyster baby back, Buffalo shrimp, Cajun-breaded whitefish and many others, for $7.49 and served on French bread with house-made fries.
A few of the side dishes are also standouts, including house-made French fries, onion rings and new potatoes. However, the superstar of PoBoys Shrimp Shack's side dishes is the corn on the cob. Get your own because it's such buttery goodness that you will not want to share. It's the kind of corn that brings out my Southern accent and makes me want to emphatically say "Amen!" or "Dang, that's some good corn!"
Entrees include whitefish in a choice of Cajun pan-seared; Parmesan lemon and herb-crusted; blackened; pecan-crusted; or Caribbean grilled, all $10.99. A lunch plate of "Uncle Joe's" BBQ baby back ribs is $9.99, while the dinner portion is $15.99. Teeters also offers island baby back ribs for the same price and as well as a superb oven-roasted half chicken for $10.99.
PoBoys Shrimp Shack has several all-you-can-eat specials. Monday and Friday is all-you-can-eat beer-battered fish and chips ($9.99). Tuesday and Thursday are all-you-can-eat fried shrimp ($10.99) and Wednesday is all-you-can-eat island baby back ribs. ($15.99)