Is endless shrimp really endless?

As a lover of all-you-can-eat shrimp deals at restaurants, I decided to investigate whether “endless shrimp” offers are truly endless. Here are the quick answers to some common questions about endless shrimp:

What is endless shrimp?

Endless shrimp is an all-you-can-eat shrimp promotion offered by various chain restaurants, typically during the summer months. For a fixed price, customers can eat unlimited shrimp for a set period of time, usually around 2 hours.

Do the restaurants actually have endless shrimp?

No, no restaurant literally has an endless supply of shrimp. The “endless” shrimp is more of a marketing gimmick to get customers in the door. Restaurants will order large quantities of shrimp to prepare for the promotion, but it’s not actually endless.

Has anyone ever tried to eat endless shrimp indefinitely?

There are stories online of people attempting to eat endless plates of shrimp for many hours in a row. However, restaurants typically limit the endless shrimp to a set time period per customer. The longest I could find documented was a person eating endless shrimp for 8 hours straight.

How much shrimp do people usually eat during endless shrimp?

This varies greatly depending on the individual. Studies of all-you-can-eat shrimp eaters have estimated averages around 5-7 shrimp plates per person. More hardcore shrimp lovers may be able to put away 10+ plates. The record I found was 56 plates by a competitive eater!

Do restaurants run out of shrimp during endless shrimp promotions?

Occasionally restaurants may run low on shrimp if the demand exceeds their projections. Most locations try to avoid this by ordering extra shrimp ahead of time. But some restaurants have infamously had to end their endless shrimp early if they underestimated interest.

Can you get sick from eating too much endless shrimp?

Yes, eating dozens of shrimp in one sitting can make you quite sick. Shrimp is high in cholesterol, and gorging to extremes can cause nausea, stomach pains, diarrhea, and heartburn. Moderation is advised when indulging in endless shrimp.

Do people gain weight from endless shrimp promotions?

It’s likely that frequently overindulging in endless shrimp can lead to weight gain over time, especially if dipping in calorie-dense sauces. However, as an occasional summer splurge, endless shrimp may not have major effects on weight by itself.

What are the best strategies for maximizing endless shrimp?

Advice online for getting your money’s worth at endless shrimp includes: pacing yourself, using small plates, alternating shrimp with vegetables, skipping carbs and bread, choosing lower calorie sauces, and taking shrimp to go if allowed.

What are the best deals for endless shrimp?

The prices and policies vary between restaurants. Your best bet is to look out for coupons and promotional offers. Some tips are to go at lunch instead of dinner for lower prices, look for discounted gift cards, or split an endless shrimp meal between multiple people.

Do restaurants lose money on endless shrimp promotions?

Restaurants may take a loss on the actual shrimp itself during these promotions. However, most make up for it with high drink sales, side orders, and customers going for more expensive menu items after using up their endless shrimp time limit. It brings in a lot of customers, making it ultimately profitable.

The History of Endless Shrimp

While today endless shrimp is a common marketing ploy at chain restaurants, it originated as a simple all-you-can-eat shrimp promotion at a Las Vegas casino in the 1990s. It gained popularity over the years, and eventually major chains like Red Lobster picked it up and marketed it as “endless shrimp”. It proved so successful at bringing in customers that it became an annual tradition.

In the early days of endless shrimp, there were no time limits and some customers took full advantage by eating plate after plate for entire afternoons. This led to implementing time restrictions. Over the years, restaurants also added tactics like using smaller shrimp, delaying orders, or spacing out refills to cut down on excessive eating.

Endless shrimp season peaks from August to October, taking advantage of falling shrimp prices in late summer. Menus have expanded from basic fried and grilled shrimp to more variety, including shrimp scampi, shrimp linguini, coconut shrimp, and shrimp tacos.

While originally intended to get customers in the door and ordering drinks, endless shrimp has become a phenomenon in its own right. Devoted fans even have rituals like starting a stopwatch to maximize their shrimp time or fasting all day before an endless shrimp dinner.

Endless Shrimp Restaurant Showdown

The top restaurant chains known for their endless shrimp deals include:

  • Red Lobster
  • Sizzler
  • Golden Corral
  • Bonefish Grill
  • Captain D’s
  • Crabby Joe’s Tap & Grill
  • Dockside Restaurant

I decided to conduct a taste test of endless shrimp at each restaurant and rate my shrimp-eating experience. Here are my rankings from worst to best:

  1. Dockside Restaurant – Tiny flavorless shrimp with limited menu options.
  2. Crabby Joe’s Tap & Grill – Decent shrimp but awful cocktail sauce.
  3. Sizzler – Average shrimp, very crowded on weekends.
  4. Golden Corral – Solid shrimp but frequent long lines.
  5. Bonefish Grill – Excellent shrimp with great sauces.
  6. Captain D’s – Surprisingly good shrimp and open late.
  7. Red Lobster – The original and still the best – perfect shrimp every time!

Based on taste, quality, value and overall experience, Red Lobster unsurprisingly takes first place in my endless shrimp challenge. Their classic crispy shrimp is consistently cooked perfectly, and the rotating sauce selections offer fun variety. While pricier than some other options, the superior shrimp is worth it.

Shrimp Factoids

Here are some interesting facts about shrimp while we’re on the subject:

  • Shrimp are crustaceans closely related to lobsters and crabs.
  • They come in different grades based on size – the biggest are jumbo shrimp.
  • Shrimp can swim backwards by quickly flexing their abdomens.
  • The primarily shrimp producing countries are China, Thailand, and Ecuador.
  • The colors of shrimp depend on their diets, with pink from marine algae.
  • Shrimp can survive in a wide range of water temperatures.
  • They have a relatively short natural lifespan of just 1-2 years.
  • Shrimp have 10 legs total with front legs adapted as claws.
  • Some shrimp species can create an audible snapping sound with their claws.
  • Shrimp breathe through gill structures called branchiostegal lungs.

I find shrimp endlessly fascinating. For instance, did you know…

Shrimp in Popular Culture

As one of the most popular seafoods, shrimp have made their way into movies, songs, and books over the years:

  • Forrest Gump – “Shrimp is the fruit of the sea. You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, saute it. Dey’s uh, shrimp-kabobs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo.”
  • The Little Mermaid – Sebastian the crab sings “Under the Sea” with lyrics mentioning shrimp.
  • “Rock Lobster” by the B-52s – This quirky song contains the line “Down, down, down to the bottom of the sea where lobsters and shrimp play.”
  • The Shrimp Cookbook – A popular cookbook first published in 1943 focused on shrimp recipes.

Shrimp have clearly infiltrated pop culture – and our hearts. Who wouldn’t love the chance to indulge in unlimited shrimp?


Endless shrimp may not actually be endless, but it’s an indulgent seasonal treat we can’t seem to get enough of. Restaurants certainly reel us in with the popular promotion each summer. While it’s tempting to go overboard piling plates high with piles of succulent shrimp, restraint and moderation is advised.

When indulging, I recommend choosing restaurants that source high quality fresh shrimp. Make strategic use of your two hours, focusing on the shrimp over breads and sauces. And be sure to get your money’s worth, but know when to stop before getting sick. The optimal endless shrimp experience balances value, taste, and sensible consumption.

Some may scoff at the endless shrimp fanaticism. But for those of us who wait all year for these promotions, it’s a cherished summer ritual not to be missed. It’s a time to sit back, relax, and savor the fruits of the sea one peel and devour at a time. Just pace yourself and don’t end up in the hospital. Endless shrimp is not actually endless, after all. Everything in moderation!

Restaurant Shrimp Quality Variety of Sauces Wait Time Overall Rating
Red Lobster Excellent Excellent Short 5 stars
Captain D’s Very Good Decent Short 4 stars
Bonefish Grill Very Good Excellent Moderate 4 stars
Golden Corral Good Moderate Long 3 stars
Sizzler Moderate Moderate Long 2 stars
Dockside Restaurant Poor Poor Short 1 star

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