Shrimp and grits has its origins as a breakfast dish in the Low Country cooking traditions of South Carolina. The popularity and variations of the dish have spread in recent years, popping up on brunch and dinner menus all over town. At Boulder's Blackbelly Market, chef and owner Hosea Rosenberg's menu doesn't refer to the dish by its well known name, but his rendition is as soulful and satisfying as the Southern original, owing its layers of flavors to whole, head-on shrimp, butter-soft pork belly and meticulously sourced grits cooked with care.
See also: 100 Favorite Dishes: Marrow Bone Brulee at Mercantile Dining & Provision
Those grits come from Oxford, Mississippi's Grit Girl grits company, which is very selective about who the company sells its product to. Rosenberg treats the grits with respect, cooking them to a smooth and soft consistency and stirring in a subtle portion of smoked cheddar.
Monster shrimp are cooked with their heads on, not for shock value, but to add flavor to the finished dish; each shrimp pops with juicy flavor and a hint of char from the grill. Braised pork belly ups the Southern stakes with streaks of pork fat, cut with bittersweet collards tucked beneath the meat. Dabs of pepper jelly and a drizzle of oil-black red-eye sauce fuel the mix with quick heat and a lingering nuttiness from the coffee-based sauce.
Rosenberg may be a New Mexico kid with a long track record in Boulder, but somewhere inside him must beat the heart of a Southerner; while his shrimp and grits stray from the letter of the law, it captures the spirit with charm and originality.
In advance of the Best of Denver 2015, we're loading our plates with contenders for the best dishes in the city. And over the next few months, we'll be sharing many of them with you, counting down (in no particular order) one hundred of our favorite dishes before the the Best of Denver 2015 hits the streets on March 26. In the meantime, if there's a dish you think we need to try, tell us about it in the comments section below, or shoot us an e-mail at [email protected]
Hungry for more? All the dishes in our 2014 countdown are linked below.
No. 100: Chile Relleno at La Fiesta No. 99: Gurage Kitfo at Megenagna Ethiopian Restaurant No. 98: Cochinita Pibil at Work & Class No. 97: The Greggers Tongue Sandwich at Olive & Finch No 96: Baum Cakes at Glaze by Sasa No. 95: Goat hot pot from Viet's No 94: Head cheese from Beast + Bottle No. 93: Kettle Chips from Amerigo Delicatus No. 92: Pork Belly Confit at Solera Restaurant and Wine Bar No. 91: Tacos Campechanos from La Calle Taqueria No. 90: Biscuits from Denver Biscuit Co. No. 89: Clams and Chorizo at Gozo No. 88: Aburi Sushi at Sushi Den and Izakaya Den No. 87: Kimchi and Sausage Torta at City, O' City No. 86: Mar y Tierra Molcajete at Paxia No. 85: Crispy Pork Spare Ribs at Table Top No. 84: Chips and Dip at Euclid Hall No. 83: Chile Relleno Burrito at El Taco de Mexico No. 82: Scallop Crudo at Stoic & Genuine No. 81: Ceylon Curry Dosa at Khazana No. 80: The Lambada Torta at La Torteria No. 79: Pork Bulgogi at Dae Gee No. 78: the Pulled Pork Pig Pen Sandwich at Boney's No. 77: IPA Mac & Cheese at Hops & Pie No. 76: Chiles en Nogada at Chili Verde No. 75: Udon Noodle Bowl at Bones No. 74: Cinnamon Rolls at the Duffeyroll Cafe No. 73: Smoked Turkey Croque-Madame at Acorn No. 72: Pickled Lake Michigan Perch at Trillium No. 71: Oysters at Jax Fish House Glendale No. 70: Venezuelan Tostadas at Empanada Express Grill No. 69: Tahini Cauliflower from Biker Jim's Gourmet Dogs No. 68: The Ham and Cheese Tartita from Maria Empanada No. 67: Ronnie's Favorite from Rosenberg's Bagels and Deli No. 66: Shoo-fly Pie from the Long i Pie Shop No. 65: Czech Potato Pancakes at Sobo 151 No. 64: Fried Chicken at the Post Brewing Co. No. 63: Braised Brisket Sandwich at Masterpiece Delicatessen No. 62: The Scotch Egg from Argyll Whisky Beer No. 61: Butternut Squash Ravioli at DiFranco's No. 60: Sesame Balls at Vinh Xuong Bakery No. 59: Curry Puffs at Suvipa Thai Food No. 58: Diavola Pizza at Pizzeria Locale No. 57: Chorizo Breakfast Stew at DJ's 9th Avenue Cafe No. 56: The Rare Beast Sandwich at Salt & Grinder No. 55: 48-Hour Short Ribs at Chop Shop Casual Urban Eatery No. 54: Marrow Bone Brulee at Mercantile Dining & Provision