A Review of the Shrimp and Grits I Literally Just Ate an Hour Ago at Miss Shirley’s Cafe in Baltimore

ebuickuysxniol!!!! (Damon Young)
ebuickuysxniol!!!! (Damon Young)

I flew in to Baltimore this morning to speak at Morgan State University later today. But enough about that! I need to tell y’all about this meal I literally just finished eating, because I’m sitting here by myself and I need to tell someone about this shit!


My talk is at 11 a.m., but my flight got in at 6:45 a.m. Since this is a same-day round-trip—I’m flying back to Pittsburgh this afternoon—there’s no hotel room for me to chill in, so I needed something to do and somewhere to go. Plus, I wanted to get some work done.

My contact at Morgan State obviously did her research on me and suggested that I use the time to go eat breakfast at Miss Shirley’s Cafe and just work there.

So now I’m here. And one day, when I’m prepared to, we’re going to talk about the menu, which made me feel how Charlie must have felt when first rolling up on the chocolate factory. Or how a Kappa must feel when walking into a Men’s Wearhouse that only sells sweater vests and ankle-baring slacks.

Then maybe we’ll also talk about the strawberry lemonade with fresh mint sitting to my left right now; a drink they might as well as just call “Jesus Wept” because it tastes like the Lord’s tears.

And if we have time, I’ll share my thoughts about the pancakes, which I didn’t even finish because the thing we’re here to talk about was so gotdamn special that I ain’t have any room for these delicious-ass fucking pancakes. My feelings on pancakes are well-documented, so you realize how awesome the rest of the meal must have been for a plate of pancakes to remain unscathed? I’m a notorious pancake scather! I usually scathe the fuck out of some buttermilk, but I just ain’t have the desire today.

So let’s talk about why we’re gathered here today. Let’s talk about these shrimp and grits. Let’s talk about how the shrimp were so juicy and succulent and tender and moist that I wanted to take them to reggae night with me and wind and grind on them to Sister Nancy and Mr. Vegas.


Let’s talk about how they put two massive shrimps on each grit cake—and yes, we’re going to talk about the grit cake—and wrapped them around each other like a shrimp pretzel. I didn’t even know shrimp pretzels were possible. Miss Shirley is a warlock.

Let’s talk about the grit cake, which was the perfect size, the perfect heft, and provided the perfect accompaniment to the shrimp. This was a Draymond Green-ass grit cake.


Let’s talk about how these grit cakes were sitting on top of fried green tomatoes. And how I bit one of those fried green tomatoes, and it was so juicy, I assumed I must’ve just slobbered on myself. It was like biting into a fried green water balloon.

Let’s talk about how I didn’t actually see any bacon, but I tasted it. I know it was there. Bacon is in the menu description of the shrimp and grits. I wasn’t bacon-fished. I’m just sitting here perplexed because, again, I didn’t see any damn bacon, but there’s definitely bacon in my belly. Which leads me to conclude that Miss Shirley just invented invisible bacon.


The service was also amazing. And they don’t seem to mind that I’m sitting at a booth with a laptop out and very obviously writing about what I just ate.

As for a recommendation, I don’t do stars because stars are racist. I do do solemn-as-fuck head nods, though, and on a scale from 1 to 5, I give Miss Shirley’s Cafe 27 solemn-as-fuck head nods.

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB, a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times, and the author of What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker (Ecco/HarperCollins)


KC Complains A Lot

If someone can explain to me how and why God made me move to Maryland with all this amazing ass seafood and then made me allergic to seafood, I’d love to hear it.

Got my mouth all watering and whatnot...