Why Does Shrimp At A Steakhouse Always Taste Better Than Homemade?

Steakhouses are, as the name indicates, primarily known for their red meat offerings. But that's not all that steakhouses generally have on offer. You'll find dishes for people who don't want to eat meat — things like salads, chicken dishes, or seafood. The latter is probably the most prevalent; there's a reason "surf and turf" is such a well-known expression. Given its versatility, shrimp makes an appearance on most steakhouse menus; it might be an appetizer or an accompaniment, but it's rare for it not to be available.

There is something about steakhouse shrimp that hits different — but why is it so good? Why is steakhouse shrimp seemingly so much better than what you can make at home? There are many reasons for this, but the biggest one is simple: You're eating shrimp prepared by professionals using better equipment than you likely have at home. That sort of situation is naturally going to produce better food because that's quite literally a restaurant's entire job.

Food cooked by professionals always has an advantage

Professional kitchens are professional for a reason; their entire job is to make your food taste good. That's not to say there aren't great home cooks out there, but the food coming out of a professional kitchen staffed by trained chefs and stocked with high-end equipment is naturally going to have a leg up. They also have no reason to worry about health-consciousness — their job is to make your food taste good — so your shrimp is quite possibly doused in butter, which, as we all know, makes everything better. Steakhouse shrimp is also often grilled, and grilled shrimp has a very specific taste that's a little different than the scampi you're likely making — one which will benefit from the atmosphere.

A lot of it also comes down to perception. Think about it: You're in a restaurant having a fun night out, and you're likely in a good mood. Studies have shown that a person's emotional state can influence how they taste food. Top that off with the fact that you're not going to be tired from cooking the meal yourself. Is it any wonder that when you're in an environment that makes you feel good, the food you're eating is going to be better?

Why is shrimp even popular in steakhouses?

But why is shrimp even a big thing at steakhouses at all? You're talking about a restaurant whose reputation is based on serving primarily red meat and also serving seafood. Sure, it's the most popular seafood in America, but it's still fish. So what gives?

There are a few good reasons shrimp became such a thing at steakhouses. The first is that restaurants always want there to be at least one option that isn't red meat; oftentimes, this means both chicken and shrimp. As to why those instead of something like, say, tilapia, it's because shrimp are both wildly popular (meaning even a lot of people who don't like seafood will eat them) and significantly cheaper than something like fresh salmon or tuna (in addition to being low in mercury). You also have better portion control with shrimp since they come in individual pieces, meaning you can serve a skewer as a side or an appetizer — which is great news considering how well shrimp goes with steak. You can't do the same thing with, for example, salmon.

In all, it makes sense that shrimp is such a popular menu item in steakhouses — and that it's so good when you order it. That doesn't mean you can't make great shrimp at home, but professionals are professionals for a reason.