Best Bet: Bacon-wrapped stuffed shrimp

MICHAEL DONAHUE /The Commercial Appeal
Bacon-wrapped stuffed shrimp at Cafe Ole is the restaurant's best-selling menu item and the standard for the dish in Memphis.

Photo by Michael Donahue // Buy this photo

MICHAEL DONAHUE /The Commercial Appeal Bacon-wrapped stuffed shrimp at Cafe Ole is the restaurant's best-selling menu item and the standard for the dish in Memphis.

MICHAEL DONAHUE /The Commercial Appeal
Bacon-wrapped stuffed shrimp at Cafe Ole is the restaurant's best-selling menu item and the standard for the dish in Memphis.

Photo by Michael Donahue

MICHAEL DONAHUE /The Commercial Appeal Bacon-wrapped stuffed shrimp at Cafe Ole is the restaurant's best-selling menu item and the standard for the dish in Memphis.

I'm feeling a little guilty right now. I just ate five bacon-wrapped stuffed shrimp at Café Ole. Make that shrimp stuffed with Monterey Jack cheese and jalapeños, wrapped with bacon and deep fried. It was served with chipotle barbecue sauce.

They were so incredibly good. I knew they were going to taste great because my server, Chace Chandler, said they were Café Ole's No. 1 seller.

Café Ole bacon-wrapped shrimp is one of those Memphis food classics. Other places sell them, but these apparently are the standard. They're sold at lunch and dinner and are the restaurant's "No. 1 seller pretty much all day long," said Cafe Ole manager Denise Johnson.

The shrimp are appetizers, but they ended up being my lunch. I got some chips and dip, but only ate a few chips. These bacon-wrapped shrimp aren't little finger food items; they're big finger food items. They're fat and juicy.

Asked why she thought they were so popular, Johnson simply said, "Who doesn't like bacon?"

Their bacon-wrapped shrimp date back 20 years or so to "the original owner" of Cafe Ole, Johnson said. That would be Steve Hamrick, who put his take on bacon-wrapped shrimp. They were his "signature dish. Now they're a staple dish."

Though other places sell bacon-wrapped shrimp, Johnson believes the chipotle barbecue sauce sets theirs apart.

I liked the barbecue sauce, but I ate most of my shrimp without any sauce. The sauce made them even more incredible tasting. I even dipped some into the salsa that came with the chips. That added still another dimension.

The shrimp are a big hit at Christmas parties, Johnson said. People come in and order "a dozen or two" for their events, she said.

Three bacon wrapped shrimp are $6.99, five are $10.99 and 12 are $23.99.

I do want to try Café Ole's bacon-wrapped chicken, a new item on their menu as of six months ago.

Café Ole is at 959 South Cooper; 901-274-1504.

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