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Gumbo in Houston

Any suggestions on where to find really good Cajun gumbo? I live on the western edge of Montrose.

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  1. The only gumbo I ever ate more than once was at Tommy's Seafood in Clear Lake. I think they opened another location near the Galleria. The Tommy's in Clear Lake is now closed from what I understand so you might want to call before you venture to the other location.

    Boudreaux's gumbo is decent. I just prefer my own except for Tommy's which was very similar to mine.

    1. Depends on what you mean by good - thick-thin?, etc. Seems to me gumbo is to people from Louisiana like chili is to Texans - everybody's got their own idea of what's good and nobody makes it as well as they do! More power to 'em. I've eaten gumbo all over Houston and never had two the same, and most Cajun places here are owned by people from La, although some of 'em have been here for decades.

      In your area, BB's on Montrose - I presume they have gumbo although I haven't had it. Calliope on Jefferson just east of 59 downtown (and in everything I've had, better than BB's). Mardi Gras up on Durham just north of Washington - I haven't had this one so can't comment. There's also a new place I've heard about up on Studemont or Studewood in the Heights, Big Mamou - haven't been but gets some good reviews.

      Also might try Tony Mandola's on W. Gray in River Oaks - might have gumbo, I don't know.

      All of these except Big Mamou have websites that I know of and that one may - I just haven't looked.

      trt: b4 shows the Tommy's on Westheimer - way out past the Galleria - as closed but the one on Bay Area Blvd. open?????

      6 Replies
      1. re: dexmat

        I don't know about either Tommy's for sure. I thought Clear Lake was closed and Westheimer was still open. I don't even remember where I read that. But before I'd go, I'd call.

        To me, gumbo is about the flavor, not the thickness. Not the flavor of the meats or veggies but the flavor of the juice they cook in which would vary if it were chicken or seafood gumbo. It cannot be just spicy hot. Water with Tabasco is not gumbo and some places will pass it off as such (Rajin' Cajun). The heat should never be the first thing that you think of when eating it. The flavor has to overpower the heat. You should like it enough that you would remove the meat and vegetables and eat the rice and juice only and still think it was wonderful. I've found that 90% of the "cajun" places can do other things really well but fail in the gumbo department. Bad gumbo won't stop me from going to those places because there are just so few places with really good gumbo that would make me say "let's go get some gumbo at ......... ".

        I have friends from all over the south that call in advance to let me know they're coming to town and that they expect some gumbo :-) and they bring ice chests to carry some home with them.

        1. re: texasredtop

          Thanks for the elucidation. I've never thought that gumbo was about the heat but I did think thickness was a bone of contention to many. I do remember the first time I had gumbo at Floyd's, many years ago, I was surprised at how thin it was - but it sure was good! Since then I know I've had rather thin gumbo at Calliope. I did remembered I had it at BB's long ago and wasn't impressed so never had it again but I can't remember just why. I don't think I ever had the gumbo at Ragin' Cajun; maybe i was smart enough to not even try it LOL. Never had it at Boudreaux's.

          1. re: dexmat

            I think I had gumbo at Floyd's once too. I think it came with my lunch. I don't remember it being bad at all. The only thing at Floyd's that I would never get again and get nauseous thinking about is their dirty rice. Yikes! That was some nasty stuff. I was shocked. Boudreaux's has a nice dirty rice, not as good as mine though :-) but I put a little roux in mine to make it stick together so Boudreaux's dirty rice is much better for you.

        2. re: dexmat

          I looked up Tony Mandola's Gulf Coast Kitchen on W. Gray since I plan to go soon. Yes, they have gumbo.

          1. re: dexmat

            I love Mardi Gras Grill, however I had their chicken and sausage gumbo maybe five years ago, and it was terrible. The flavor was not there, and the chicken was cubed, really weird. I haven't had it since had it since A friend of mine and I went to Calliope's a few weeks ago, and while we enjoyed the gumbo, It was different from whatI I would call a classic gumbo.

            Mardi Gras Grill
            1200 Durham, Houston, TX 77007

            1. re: James Cristinian

              Exactly my point about a restaurant being good with everything cajun BUT the gumbo. I think a good gumbo is made by an experienced cajun cook with love. It's not a "recipe" type dish so it's a learned thing and it can be screwed up easy by someone that is not into making something people will love.

          2. I like the thin gumbo. Danton's in Montrose and Denis on the Katy Fwy both do it well.

            1. I agree that gumbo is a very individualized sort of food. There are so many different recipes, and different formats, if you will, as well. Most gumbos use a reaux, but not all do. Some are seafood only, and some have no seafood at all. And all of these are arguably Cajun.

              I've tried seafood gumbos at various Houston restaurants and most are "just okay." Some are downright awful. Probably the best I've found so far is at Captain Tom's. They have two locations I know of -- one on 1960 and the other on I-10 in the Katy area. But even so, I'd only rate Captain Tom's as "good" or perhaps "above average."

              The best gumbo I've ever eaten is the way my wife, who is a trained chef, makes it. She bases her gumbo loosely on Paul Prudhome's seafood gumbo with andouille sausage recipe. But she adds a few of her own "secrets" that makes it a truly stand-out gumbo. A few years back, we were invited to cook gumbo for a crawfish festival in Wimberly, Texas. We made over 15 gallons, and sold every last drop. People were coming back for seconds and thirds.

              I think the reason why it is difficult to find a truly memorable gumbo is because of the cost of ingredients. My wife and I have determined that it costs us about $40 to make an 8 qt pot of gumbo. Obviously we don't skimp on ingredients. And we buy some of our more expensive ingredients wholesale! With food costs that high, a restaurant would probably have to charge around $10 for a decent-sized bowl. And I suspect that's why it's hard to find a really good bowl of gumbo.

              If you pick up a copy of Paul Prudhome's _Louisiana Kitchen_ and follow his seafood gumbo recipe, you'll have a truly outstanding gumbo. Better than you'll be able to find in any restaurant I know of.

              1. Goode Company Seafood's is most like the one I grew up eating--dark, thick, and full of good seafood.

                Goode Company Seafood
                10211 Katy Fwy, Houston, TX 77024

                1. I second the Danton's recommendation if you like dark, thin gumbo. I can't stand the light brown, overly thick and floury stuff that most places serve.

                  1. I hear there's a fairly new place on the Strand in Galveston, The Gumbo Bar. I've heard pretty good things about it but it's way to hot for gumbo right now - at least for me.


                    4 Replies
                    1. re: texasredtop

                      I'd never heard of that one but looks like it's been open about a year. A reviewer on Yelp said 'thin roux, not very flavorful.' Be sure to let us know what you think if you try it.

                      Ever had the Capt. Tom's mentioned by cooltouch above? I have once and I didn't care for it; I liked Capt. Benny's better and Tom's is a offshoot of Benny's with only modest changes in recipes, one of them being the gumbo.

                      1. re: dexmat

                        Haven't had Capt Tom's. I rarely order gumbo in a restaurant unless it's come highly recommended by someone that I share common tastes with. I was so excited about 10 years ago to hear how great Rajin' Cajun's gumbo was and I drove out to the Westheimer location to find that it tasted like hot water with Tabasco and rice with a bit of seafood. Horrible!!

                        On a cold day I wouldn't mind a bowl from Boudreaux's, it's not bad. But I ate at Boudreaux's dozens of times before I even considered sampling the gumbo. I rarely even order gumbo in New Orleans. Mr. B's is good as are a few other places but I have some kind of strange aversion to ordering gumbo in a restaurant. I guess I've had so many bad bowls that I just assume up front that it won't be good and move on to something I know will be good.

                      2. re: texasredtop

                        My husband has tried the one at The Gumbo Bar in Galveston and liked it.

                        1. re: tlegray

                          Galveston's Gumbo Bar on Postoffice is very good. I like a very dark roux and that is what they serve. At some point in the near future they will be opening a League City location.

                      3. If y'all are at the NASA area. Swing by the Fish Place on Bay Area Blvd and try it out among other cajuns seafood they specicalized in.

                        1. For my money I'd recommend one of two places close to you:

                          1. Mardi Gras Grill - was opened by Floyd Landry as "Floyds" after he had sold his prior restaurant venture out to Tillman Fertita. When Floyd retired a few years ago, they renamed themselves "Mardi Gras Grill" but kept the same menu and recipes (as far as I can tell). This place is, IMHO, the best place for authentic Cajun food inside of the loop in Houston.

                          2. Goode Company Seafood - this isn't quite a traditional cajun gumbo, but the Texan interpretation of gumbo is quite satisfying! The mesquite smoke can tend to overpower some of their grilled seafood offerings, but they've got a delicious fried soft-shell crab when it is in season from the gulf.

                          Others that I've heard good things about, but cant' yet recommend (since I haven't been there yet): Zimm's Little Deck (Richmond close to 59 spur), BB's (previously mentioned).


                          Mardi Gras Grill
                          1200 Durham, Houston, TX 77007

                          Goode Company Seafood
                          10211 Katy Fwy, Houston, TX 77024

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: grbroderick

                            Coming from a cajun background I agree Gumbo is a very personal thing. However, my nanny always said Gumbo should be dark and rich just like the bayou! It must be made with a roux, use okra as the primary thickener, and be finished with filet on top of the bowls before its served. I don't live on your side of the world so I am not really familiar with good cajun food in that area. I really like the Gumbo at Alans Swamp Shack in Kemah and the Gumbo at Floyds is not bad at all either.
                            Just FYI, Rich mans gumbo has seafood and Poor Mans Gumbo has Chicken and sausage LOL

                            1. re: houstontxgirl

                              I'm a Cajun American having grown up catching our own crawfish to put in gumbo & using vension & pork andouille (not smoked) sausage the hunter in our family providds for chicken & sausage gumbo. Man dat's good gumbo, cher! For 'store bought' gumbo, Papadeaux's on Richmand has good seafood gumbo, but consistently horrible service. Order as take out on a chilly night :-) Also second the Goode Company seafood gumbo. Ditto on Rajun Cajun's gumbo. Trying too hard to impress w/ how hot everything is there!

                              Goode Company Restaurants
                              2511 Bartlett St, Houston, TX 77098