Restaurant Reviews: Ybor's Shrimp & Co., Hamburger Mary's

Shrimp & Co.

3.5 stars

2202 E. Seventh Ave., Tampa, 813-374-0192 or shrimpandco.com

Hamburger Mary's

2 stars

1600 E. Seventh Ave., Tampa, 813-241-6279 or hamburgermarystampa.com

Tilapia is a humble fish, at best. It's farmed, feeds on things that should go unmentioned and has a mass-produced blandness that makes it the fish equivalent of engineered vegetable protein. Forgettable.

Except at Shrimp & Co., a small restaurant a block or two away from the core of Ybor. Order the tilapia blackened and you'll receive a slab of fish that will knock your taste buds for a loop, each bite a fiery blend of herb and spice that not only adds flavor to the dish but actually manages to enhance the subtle flavor of the fish. Here, tilapia is gifted with a newfound richness and depth that belies its low-end beginnings. I won't forget this tilapia. Especially since I'll be back for more.

There are other things at Shrimp & Co. worth returning for, like black gumbo built on a deeply-flavored roux and packed with a mess of sausage and shrimp, or baskets of simple fried fish and shellfish. It's all hearty fare, largely built on the Cajun and Creole culinary heritage, with a little of the Caribbean thrown in for good measure.