By Nate Thurman, Sun Herald
nthurman@sunherald.com

0415_BIFE__EATS_Shaggys_5Shaggy’s Bar and Grill is a Coast success story. The small chain of restaurants started as a small bar and grill in Pass Christian that stands where a bait shop formerly stood.

Then Shaggy’s founder Ron Ladner helped expand the business to locations in Biloxi and Pensacola, and now to Shaggy’s newest location, which is in Gulfport.

The new location rocks the signature barn red color that the other locations have, but this location offers up new views and familiar eats.

The Gulfport location offers two bars, one inside and one on a deck that extends on risers out over the parking lot, bumping up next to U.S. 90. This bar offers views of the beach, the port and on clear days, Ship Island.

As with the other locations, the tables have bright, tropical colors and there are colorful shutters, too. Also as with other Shaggy’s locations, there are bobbers used to call for service. The idea is simple — raise the brightly colored fishing bobber up the small pole at your table and your server will be right over. Once you have what you need, just lower the bobber.

But like any good beach restaurant, what matters most is the food and drink. Shaggy’s Gulfport offers the same menus as the other locations, featuring classic beach appetizers and entrees, but also barbecue pork sandwiches, beach-style Tex-Mex entrees such as beach tacos and quesadillas, and traditional hamburgers.

The blackened shrimp tacos ($10.99) came with shredded green and purple cabbage covered with a citrus vinaigrette and a jalapeno sour cream sauce. The shrimp were flavorful and had a strong snap to them, while the cabbage and sauces provided a zesty crunch to the texture. The appetizer of fried pickles ($5.99) was juicy and crunchy and came with a tangy homemade ranch dipping sauce.

Shaggy’s does more than just straightforward beach food, though, and those looking for decadent or innovative options have much to choose from.

The oyster section of the menu offers the Ocean Fever oysters ($16.99), which come baked with garlic butter, cheddar-jack and Parmesan cheese and fried shrimp on top. For a more adventurous take on a po-boy, Shaggy’s offers the Dirty Shagg ($11.99), an open-faced blackened fish po-boy smothered in a dirty crawfish sauce and dressed with lettuce, tomatoes and fried pickles.

The inside and outdoors bars offer six taps at each bar, with each bar serving locally brewed and summer appropriate beers. A long list of summer-perfect cocktails is available as well.