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Shrimp Lips On Parsons Ave. Lives Up To The Hype, And Then Some

Seafood is one of those things that I love eating, but I never have the desire to cook it myself. Any time I want shrimp or crab, I’m always underwhelmed in how poorly I cook fish. A waste of good seafood, sadly.

Shrimp Lips is a newish restaurant on the south end of Columbus, in between Merion Village, Vassor Village. Located on the corner of Parsons and E Welch Ave, the take-out only restaurant has had consistently strong reviews with a 4.4 average on Google over more than 350 reviews.

Facebook is even more impressive, with a 4.7 rating, and more than 15,000 Facebook users have “liked” the page. Originally, Shrimp Lips started life as a food truck, although, with the advent of COVID-19, there are few places to exhibit that right now.

The restaurant is a black-owned, family-owned restaurant. The daughter of the owner has even been featured on Food Network’s Diners Drive-Ins, and Dives – hosted by Flavortown native, Guy Fieri.

Their food is nearly all seafood-based, although they do serve a few chicken dishes as well. Sorry, if you’ve got a shellfish allergy, this may not be the place for you!

The fare here is not stuff like sauteed shrimp on a bun, or maybe a crab cake or two; Shrimp Lips has a wide variety of seafood, one you may not quite expect from a take-out only establishment. The southern soul roots are clear in the cooking, and choice of plates.

You might not expect to find a pound of snow crab legs, a crawfish platter, or lobster tails at a place that isn’t a sitdown restaurant with three dollar signs on Yelp, yet Shrimp Lips have them. They’ve even got alligator on the menu!

Photo by Kevin Williams

Being take-out only doesn’t mean that Shrimp Lips itself isn’t charming though – the exterior of the building is exceptionally clean. The mascot of a shrimp drawn out with big cartoon lips is on the main sign, and all over the building. It’s cute. Even in 90-degree weather, during a pandemic, everyone is speedy, kind, and there’s a real sort of camaraderie of waiting for your order on the sidewalk.

Shrimp Lips says this about their food:

“The plates are made with a delicate touch of everything you crave. Shrimp Lips uses a unique blend of spices and designs dishes that you cant find at any other seafood location…”

Let’s go ahead and say it now: Shrimp Lips is delicious.

My order consisted of two things – the Shrimp Taco with Cajun Fries, but I also ordered an a la carte order of lobster mac n cheese. I can’t resist. I love mac n cheese.

The Shrimp Taco has a frybread shell, filled with fried shrimp, spinach, chopped onion, tomato, drizzled with their “special shrimp lips sauce”. The Frybread base is one of the best parts of the dish,- the bread is warm and chewy – it has the right amount of give. It’s also sturdy; refuses to fall apart while consuming and it soaks in all the flavors from the veggies, sauce, and shrimp.

Photo by Kevin Williams

The shrimp themselves are fried – plump, juicy, and well-seasoned. Also, they’re definitely not stingy with the shrimp number in the taco itself. The “Shrimp lips special sauce” is a slightly sweet, slightly tangy sauce that ties the whole taco together – and to be honest I should have ordered a side of it to dip my fries in.

The Lobster Mac N Cheese is so special. Sometimes when people make mac n cheese with the addition of seafood, it almost always feels like an afterthought – just yet another side dish to offer to people, that doesn’t fit in with the rest of the menu.

Photo by Kevin Williams

Not the case at Shrimp Lips. The Mac N Cheese feels well thought out and highly considered, it feels as natural on the menu as the hushpuppies or crab legs do. The Mac n Cheese is very creamy, and the pasta is perfect – neither overly firm nor mushy and overcooked. The pasta, topped with lobster, and seasoned reminiscent of the other dishes on the menu.

If the shrimp taco and lobster mac is just a taste of the rest of the menu, I have no doubt that the rest of the menu is just as flavorful, fresh, and well seasoned.

I get why there’s always a wait.