Gusty Gumbos by Robin Barr Sussman is featured in our Spring 2017 edition of My Table magazine, issue #137. To subscribe to the print edition, click here. To find it on newsstands (available March 18), click here. To get the digital edition, subscribe here.
Houston chefs are stirring the pot with terrific gumbo creations boasting deep flavors and oodles of spice. Prefer dark oil-based Cajun style with fragrant filé powder and spicy meat, or a lighter and more refined tomato-tinged Creole roux? Is okra a must, or perhaps you crave straight seafood? Pick your style and dig in – it’s all here in the Bayou City.
BRENNAN’S OF HOUSTON 3300 Smith, 712-522-9711 brennanshouston.com
Holy Grail gumbo. For his addicting Hunter’s Duck and Collard Green gumbo (photo at top), chef Danny Trace starts with the holy trinity: onions, celery and bell peppers. A smoky dark roux, lots of fresh garlic, Creole seasoning and tons of other ingredients, including duck stock and spicy venison sausage, result in thick, soulful stew. To take it over the top, he crowns it with cornbread croutons.
BB’S CAFE 6154 Westheimer (new Briargrove store), 713-339-2566, and other locations
Heirloom quality. Maw Maw’s gumbo – an old family Cajun recipe from owner Brooks Bassler – comes in seafood (photo below) or andouille sausage-chicken. Seafood gumbo is composed of cooked-down onions, celery and okra, plus cayenne to create a silky, very spicy stock. Served piping hot, it’s loaded with tender shrimp and topped with rice and scallions. Add lump crabmeat for $4.
PRICE: Shrimp gumbo $12/bowl
GOODE CO. SEAFOOD 10211 Katy Freeway, 713-464-7933, and other location
Buttery. Die-hard dark roux fans might not be into Goode’s velvety, golden-colored roux, medium thick with buttery flavor and a whiff of caramelized flour. The seafood gumbo is generous with fresh Gulf shrimp, sweet crabmeat and plump oysters and topped with white rice and scallions.
PRICE: $14.50/bowl SCORE: 8.5
KITCHEN 713 4601 Washington Ave., 713-842-7114 kitchen713.com
The whole kitchen sink. The signature gumbo at this recently transplanted foodie haven is a little pricey and only available by the bowl. But it’s packed with andouille sausage, chicken, turkey, plump shrimp, rice and lump crabmeat. The deep brown and glossy roux is made with a seafood base and seasoned properly with pepper and spices but, alas, a little too much salt.
TONY MANDOLA’S 1212 Waugh, 713-528-3474 tonymandolas.com
Creole style. A tomato-butter base anchors Mama’s golden brown seafood gumbo slightly thickened with filé powder and floating with shrimp, crawfish, crab claw fingers, celery, onion, roasted tomatoes, fresh herbs and spices. It’s always topped with rice and scallions and, on special days, fried crawfish or fried okra.
PRICE: $12.99/bowl, $5 at happy hour
TREEBEARD’S 1200 McKinney, 713-400-9595, and other locations
Good bones. These downtown cafeterias have been the solid choice for genuine, affordable Southern food since 1978. The recipe for success in the chicken and andouille sausage gumbo comes from carefully prepared dark roux and the holy trinity of vegetables and spices. Don’t miss the thick, moist jalapeño cornbread.
Find the gumbo recipes for State of Grace, Grace’s on Kirby and State Fare in the print and digital Spring 2017 edition of My Table magazine. See what we did there?
These Roux Make the Grade: Here Are More Notable Mentions for Gusty Gumbos in Houston
Esther’s Cajun Cafe & Soul Food 5204 Yale, 713-699-1212 estherscajunsoul.com
Nobody leaves Esther’s hungry – the servings are plentiful, as proven by all the requested take-out containers for leftovers. Fridays and Saturdays you can score the gumbo deal that includes a medium-sized gumbo serving with a fried fish fillet, $13.79.
Grace’s on Kirby 3111 Kirby 713-728-6410 gracesonkirby.com
Italians often like to boast about spicing things up, and Johnny Carrabba brings the heat in his gumbo recipe that calls for green bell peppers, red bell peppers, black pepper, Louisiana hot sauce and then some. Small: $6 Large: $11
Jax Grill 1613 Shepherd Dr., 713-861-5529 and other location
Constantly resolving to eat better? Attempt to start your week off on a (healthy-ish) note with Jax’s Sunday pairing of seafood gumbo with a house salad, $9.25
Ragin’ Cajun 4302 Richmond Ave 713-623-6321 and other locations
You can get fed for nearly free on Wednesdays at Ragin’ Cajun if you know about these specials: For $11, choose either shrimp and crab or chicken and sausage gumbo (16 oz.) and get a drink and piece of French bread. Plus, your little okras (as in kids) eat free on Wednesdays with the purchase of an adult entrée. Extra bonus: Bottles of wine are half off on hump day.
Segari’s 1503 Shepherd Dr., 713-880-2470 segarisrestaurant.com
In 2002, Robb Walsh, former restaurant critic of the Houston Press, nominated Segari’s as Best Gumbo in the weekly newspaper’s annual Best Of issue. If those praises aren’t high enough, Yelper Adam D. says Segari’s makes “easily [the] best gumbo in Houston.” We know everyone’s standards for roux and gumbo preferences are different, so we had to check it out. (And weren’t disappointed.) We agree with Mariana Y.’s testiment that it is “meaty and spicy and delicious!” A cup is $7.95.
State Fare 947 Gessner, Ste. B190 832-831-0950 statefaretx.com
In the Spring 2017 issue of My Table, we renamed Jim Mill’s Sabine Pass Gumbo as Sabine “Gumbo” Pass. The flavors of the roux and medley of andouille sausage and blue crabs so accurately describe the mix of cultures, landscape and energy at the flowing waters junction of Louisiana and Texas, that it seems like the pass itself should be named after Sabine-influenced gumbo. A bowl is $16 (photo above). Make it at home!
State of Grace 3258 Westheimer, 832-942-5080 stateofgracetx.com
Smoked chicken and chorizo gumbo? Sign us up. State of Grace executive chef Bobby Matos serves this gumbo in little cast iron skillets ($12) that leave a tantalizing, smoky scent trail behind when waiters carry them through the dining room.
Zydeco Louisiana Diner 1119 Pease Street, 713-759-2001 zydecolouisianadiner.com
For almost 30 years, downtown regulars and South Texas College of Law students have flocked to this long-time Cajun staple between classes and for a midday meal, and last year the diner extended their hours to include dinner service in order to satisfy their customer’s needs. Choose from shrimp and crab claw gumbo, chicken and sausage gumbo, or a blend of both. Cup and bowl prices range from $5.25 to $7.25 during lunch, $7 to $9 at dinner.