Best Of 2008

BEST MEAL FOR FOUR UNDER $20: Wild Shrimp Company

Co-owner James Walton and chef Todd Felix of Wild Shrimp Company.

If all your friends can scrape together for dinner is a couple of tens and some pocket lint, don’t think that the only choices involve a drive-through or delivery. There’s some mighty fine cheap eats out there, and none finer — or cheaper — than Wild Shrimp Company, where you’ll find Louisiana cooking served from a tiny concrete cube in the corner of the Haslam’s Book Store parking lot just west of downtown St. Pete. The corn bread is a transcendent golden muffin that’s incredibly moist, subtly sweet and loaded with toasty corn flavor. Fried goods — like chicken strips, mahi and especially the shrimp — are cooked a deep brown, crunchy and salty outside, moist and tender inside. Jambalaya is loaded with spice; po’ boys feature more of that great fried shrimp and huge sliced pickles on a doughy baguette; grit cakes are great treats for the drive home. All that food, and more, will run you less than $20. Hell, even if you can afford a more expensive place, Wild Shrimp may still be your best choice for dinner.