Ask any New Orleanian what one quintessential dish you must try before leaving the Crescent City, and you’re bound to hear gumbo. This classic Creole dish highlights the diversity of New Orleans cuisine while staying true to its Cajun roots.
Everyone has an opinion on what should be included in a bowl of gumbo. Seafood gumbo, andouille gumbo, okra gumbo – the varieties are endless. But one thing is for certain; it doesn’t matter if you visit during the hot summer months or the dead of winter, you can guarantee gumbo is being served in a restaurant in every one of New Orleans’ storied neighborhoods.
We’ve rounded up where to find the best gumbo in New Orleans so that you get your fill of this delicious meal while you’re in Nola!
Gumbo is derived from the word “gombo,” which translates to okra in the West African language. Through the transatlantic slave trade, okra made its way to Louisiana, and gumbo followed as a result.
By the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, gumbo had become a staple in the state’s local cuisine. The dish has historically been made by locals from all socioeconomic statuses, cultures, and backgrounds. While the result has become a mixture of Creole and Cajun takes on gumbo, the base of this meal has remained true to its African origins.
Gumbo recipes have been passed down in Louisiana families for centuries. While no two gumbos are exactly the same, there are a few essential elements that combine to form this infamous Southern meal.
At its core, gumbo is a roux-based stew served over white rice. Arguably, the roux is what makes it quintessentially gumbo. Roux is responsible for giving gumbo its thick texture and adding a toasty flavor. Roux is equal parts flour and fat (think butter, lard, and bacon fat) whisked together to form a thick sauce. Most gumbos call for dark roux, which means that the flour and fat were given plenty of time to develop into a rich, full flavor.
Gumbo always starts with the holy trinity, the basis for most Creole and Cajun dishes. The holy trinity is equal parts onion, celery, and bell peppers. Beyond the holy trinity and roux bases, gumbo involves an endless amount of meat combinations.
There is the classic seafood gumbo, comprised of anything from crabmeat to Gulf coast shrimp to crawfish. Chicken and sausage gumbo is loaded with andouille sausage and chicken. And then there are the extra thickening agents, like okra and file, that give gumbo its “ump”.
All of these delicious ingredients mix together for hours, or even all day, to form the delicious stew that we know and love as gumbo. Serve it on top of a steaming bowl of white rice, and you’ve got Louisana’s go-to dish.
Liuzza’s by the Track might be most famous for their BBQ shrimp po-boys, but locals will tell you that you can’t visit without trying the gumbo. Known as a food hub for Jazz Fest go-ers, this Mid-City joint has been serving the community for over 20 years.
You’ll often find a line out the door with a crowd eager to taste their famous Bloody Marys and a bowl of gumbo. Their Creole gumbo is loaded with chicken, andouille sausage, shrimp, and okra. Guests can get it without seafood if they prefer a traditional chicken and sausage gumbo. If you’re exploring the neighborhood, you can even get gumbo in a cup to take with you to go!
Liuzza’s does not take reservations, so be prepared for a wait if you go on a busy day. We promise you it’s worth it.
Li’l Dizzy Cafe is the no-fuss neighborhood joint you want to visit for a traditional New Orleans experience. This Black-owned family restaurant has been serving the Treme neighborhood for years. Walk through the doors, and you will feel the pride of the Baquet family, who have owned Nola restaurants for generations, plastered along the walls.
And the family legacy doesn’t end with the atmosphere. Li’l Dizzy’s gumbo has been a family recipe for generations, boasting their own sausage and gumbo base. It is packed with ham, sausage, blue crab, and shrimp. Served in a cup with iconic crab claws sticking out, it will give you the ultimate New Orleans gumbo experience.
We recommend grabbing a cup of gumbo along with their famous fried chicken, then finishing your meal with rum-based bread pudding.
Gabrielle is a hidden gem in the Treme/Lafitte neighborhood bordering the French Quarter. Housed in a bright blue corner building, Gabrielle offers a quaint, unassuming atmosphere that screams local dining. This family-owned restaurant boasts delicious Cajun food from award-winning Chef Sonnier.
While they are known for a few menu items, such as the duck liver mousse pate, their Cajun-style gumbo is the real novelty. Chef Sonnier makes his own small-batch roux, giving the gumbo an extra richness that you can often only find in Southern home kitchens. The gumbo is then topped with fried quail, smoked hen, and rabbit sausage, giving it a unique flavor profile that is quintessentially Louisiana.
Don’t forget to finish your gumbo meal with their Peppermint Patti for dessert. Reservations are highly recommended.
Right across the street from Gabrielle, you’ll find Dooky Chase’s, a long-time neighborhood joint in the Treme community. This lively, colorful restaurant evolved from a sandwich shop into a beloved restaurant serving Creole cuisine when Dooky and Leah Chase took over in 1946. It is best known for hosting historic civil rights meetings by Martin Luther King, Jr. and other important activists throughout the years.
Dooky Chase is also famous for its delicious Creole gumbo, made with smoked sausage, blue crab, chicken, shrimp, veal, and file. This recipe hasn’t changed in decades, giving visitors the chance to experience an authentic, classic take on New Orleans Creole-style gumbo.
Reservations are highly recommended, and the dress code is business casual.
Gris-Gris is a modern bistro with a Southern flare opened in 2018 by Chef Eric Cook. While newer to the scene, Gris-Gris has made a name for itself by winning multiple awards since its opening, including Eater’s 2018 Restaurant of the Year.
You’ll find their delicious chicken and andouille gumbo on both the brunch and dinner menus. Made with specialty Louisiana popcorn rice, you’ll notice a nutty flavor with every bite. Combined with a dark roux that adds depth and richness and smoked meats, Chef Cook’s slow-cooked gumbo will surprise your taste buds.
Recommendations are highly recommended.
Brigtsen’s is a long-time fine-dining staple in the Uptown neighborhood of New Orleans. Opened by Chef Brigtsen in the ’80s, this neighborhood bistro is housed in a cottage-style building with a quaint, cozy interior.
Walk through the doors, and you will feel like you’re in a New Orleanians’ home. From the art on the walls to the Cajun cuisine, Brigtsen’s is a delight to your senses. While you can’t go wrong with any of their menu items, their gumbo has been a fan favorite since they opened their doors.
These days, you’ll find a seafood okra gumbo on the menu topped with sausage, shrimp, and oysters. While the toppings may change from time to time, the commitment to cooking slow gumbo to build flavor and depth always remains.
Located inside the Royal Sonesta, Restaurant R’Evolution offers a one-of-a-kind fine-dining experience in the heart of Downtown Nola. Between the elegant dining room and plum-colored bar, the atmosphere is regal and swanky all at once.
Restaurant R’Evolution is known for putting their twist on classic Cajun and Creole dishes, and their specialty gumbo reflects that. Dubbed “Death by Gumbo” on their menu, their bowl of gumbo is full of whole-roasted quail, file, andouille sausage, and oysters. It is a meal fit for a King. They also serve traditional Louisiana seafood gumbo if you prefer a more low-key option.
Reservations are highly recommended, and the dress code is business casual.
If we’re honest, you could plan an entire trip around trying the best gumbo in New Orleans and never run out of places to go, and that’s because gumbo is just as diverse as the city that put it on the map. Ask any New Orleanian, and they will give you a different hole-in-the-wall spot to try. And guess what – they’d all be right!
With gumbo shops scattered throughout the city, you’ll surely have one right around the corner from your Book NOLA vacation home. We hope you enjoy your tour of the best gumbo in Crescent City!