I have been to Pinky Shrimp’s before, but only ONCE before, and it was way back in 2018. I loved almost everything I got back then, and even declared their Crispy Cape Codwich to be “one of the best fish sandwiches I have ever eaten.”
Despite visiting countless seafood shacks since, Pinky’s has stuck itself stubbornly in the back of my mind, beckoning me to make the trip back to LBI.
And, this year, I decided to do just that. I wanted to see if the memory could possibly hold up to the reality, and I wanted to explore the menu a bit further to see what treats I had simply overlooked previously.
So I called two of my favorite dining companions and headed to Pinky’s for lunch on a late summer day.
If you’ve never been, Pinky Shrimp’s is a glorious, no-frills experience, a simple fish market with a series of large, umbrella-clad picnic tables out front. But they also specialize in fresh-cooked seafood, and the place is an LBI institution, the kind of spot that everybody seems to know about as soon as you mention it. I arrived at noon on a weekday. and I grabbed the last available picnic table. I had called in my order ahead and it was ready within 2 minutes of my arrival.
Keep ItClams Casino: A great way to start any meal, our order of clams casino came with six perfectly broiled clams mixed with peppers, pimento and a hint of bacon. The whole thing was topped with Romano cheese that was toasted to a lovely crisp, adding a salty boost of cheesy goodness to the app.
Super Shrimp: The Super Shrimp are listed on the menu as “our claim to fame,” and thus became a must try on this outing. Indeed they were fantastic. Butterflied and dredged in a well-seasoned breading before hitting the fryer, they weren’t the biggest shrimp I have seen, but they certainly lived up to the hype. I opted for a few dunks in their homemade tartar sauce instead of the cocktail sauce that it came with – more on that fiasco later – and the pairing, aided by a quick squeeze of lemon, was as simple as it gets, yet utterly marvelous.
Coconut shrimp: Two types of fried shrimp? Yes, that’s right, we ordered two fried shrimp dishes. I find it hard to resist coconut shrimp, but in this case I had peeked on Yelp the day before, caught a glimpse of these and knew I couldn’t pass them up. Super crunchy, coconut-flaked breading added some nice texture and flavor to the shrimp, but the surprise hero of this dish was the sauce it was paired with, simply referred to on the menu as a “secret dipping sauce.” In some ways it appears as a standard coconut shrimp dipping sauce – it’s amber-colored and glaze-like, and has an obvious fruit-based sweetness to it – but I was not expecting the horseradish, which is an ingredient I’m not usually a big fan of. But in this case, it was used to utter perfection, adding a subtle crack of flavor from an unexpected direction without clearing your sinuses.
Broiled crab cake: The crab cake is available broiled or fried. I went with broiled version and was happy that I did – thick breading would have overpowered the delicate flavor of the crab on this one. It was delicious, and it earned a big thumbs-up overall, but the $17 price tag for one crab cake was a tad ridiculous.
Crispy Cape Codwich: I had to order the trophy winner from my last trip to see if my fond memories were rooted in reality or fantasy. I’m happy to report it was as good as I remember, the corn flake crust being the key to its amazing crunch outside, while flaky cod greets you on the inside. Topped with a nice big tomato slice and some tartar sauce – it came with leaf lettuce, too, but I opted to leave it on the plate – this is still one of the best fish sandwiches I have ever eaten.
Throw It BackThe nickel-and-diming: I had a nearly flawless experience at Pinky Shrimp’s, but one thing that left a sour taste in my mouth was their handling of the condiment situation. After I had grabbed our food from inside, one of my dining companions went back to ask for some additional tartar sauce – they didn’t give any with the fried shrimp – and she was told that she would have to pay for the tiny 2-ounce cup if she wanted it. When it was explained that none came with the shrimp, the employee informed us that if we wanted any tartar sauce we would have to bring back the cocktail sauce and trade it in.
Listen – I appreciate that the tartar was homemade, as most places just throw a few packets of the store-bought stuff at you, but at the end of the day, it’s mayonnaise and relish with a few spices, not caviar. Don’t charge for it, or if you must, work it into the overall cost. Bickering with customers and making them go outside and participate in a bizarre condiment exchange program is tacky and embarrassing for everyone.
Trophy WinnersSuper Shrimp
Crispy Cape Codwich
Pinky Shrimp’s is located at 83rd Street and Long Beach Blvd., Long Beach Township. Go to Lobzilla.com.