Let me preface this post by saying that I am not a gumbo expert. And then, let me also preface it with a quick tale of over-ambition and complete disregard for how long it takes to do something. The quick version is that the Boy and I got an idea into our head to start another blog, one where we would try to find the “best” versions of food and drink in a given area. In other words, an excuse to eat a bunch of stuff. In the planning for this blog, we came up with all sorts of rules – we had to try at least five of something, they couldn’t necessarily be the five most convenient to us (some wiggle room there), etc.
We also, after much back and forth, came up with an elaborate and completely unscientific ratings system of 150 total possible points:
- Taste (worth 50 points)
- Value (worth 30 points)
- Texture (worth 20 points)
- Creativity (worth 20 points)
- Presentation (worth 20 points)
- Convenience (worth 10 points)
To get to these point totals, we would rate each item on a scale of 1-10 and use multipliers, i.e. Taste had a 5x multiplier, Value a 3x multiplier, and so on. Whew. Summary of this story is we realized it was going to take us WAY too long to get enough posts ready to launch this separate blog, so instead any related endeavors would be housed here (foodstuffs) or on the Boy’s blog Boozy Newsie (drinkstuffs).
And without further ado, let’s get to rating the gumbos of New Orleans…noting, of course, that on our trip we did not have time to try every gumbo available, so we may have missed a hidden gem.
#5 The Gumbo Shop, Chicken & Andouille Gumbo [80/150] $9.50 (bowl)
Recommended by The Man Who Ate New Orleans
Taste 35/50 | Value 12/30 | Texture 8/20 | Creativity 4/20 | Presentation 12/20 | Convenience 9/10
First of all, let us say that none of the gumbos were bad – in fact throughout all the tastings in New Orleans, we were impressed by their subtle, building warmth. This particular version, however, was the thickest and most like gravy we had – a little too much on both counts – and we weren’t sure we liked that it was thickened with okra, though not having huge okra pieces was a plus. Interestingly, it wasn’t our least favorite flavor-wise, but did poorly on value, texture, and creativity.
#4 Coop’s Place, Duck & Andouille Gumbo [87/150] $4.50 (cup)
Recommended by the Boy‘s brother & sister-in-law
Taste 25/50 | Value 18/30 | Texture 16/20 | Creativity 10/20 | Present. 10/20 | Convenience 8/10
This one had lots of okra. It was spicy enough, but we wished it had more flavor. It seemed like it was missing something – maybe salt? It was our least favorite taste-wise, but did rate well on convenience and texture.
#3 Galatoire’s, Duck & Andouille Sausage Gumbo [98/150] $8.75 (bowl)
Recommended by Southern Living
Taste 45/50 | Value 12/30 | Texture 8/20 | Creativity 10/20 | Present. 18/20 | Convenience 5/10
The top three gumbos were all really, really delicious and really, really close. We wished this one was a little thicker, but it had good spice, and we were intrigued by the darker color. It also had really good meaty flavor, and we were very sad when the waiter took it away before we sopped it all up with our bread! It did lose a few convenience points for having a dress code in the restaurant.
#2 Commander’s Palace, Seafood Gumbo [99/150] $8.50 (bowl)
Recommended by no one – when a tourist in New Orleans, you go to Commander’s 🙂
Taste 45/50 | Value 15/30 | Texture 16/20 | Creativity 4/20 | Present. 16/20 | Convenience 3/10
This was our only seafood gumbo, and it tasted really good except the Boy didn’t like the oysters (not the gumbo’s fault). It lost convenience points for the stringent dress code – as the Boy said, “You shouldn’t have to wear a jacket to eat it.” It also didn’t have rice, but it didn’t need it. Well spiced!
#1 Jacques-Imo’s, Duck & Andouille Gumbo [109/150] $7.95 (bowl, pictured split)
Recommended by the Boy‘s friend
Taste 40/50 | Value 21/30 | Texture 20/20 | Creativity 10/20 | Present. 14/20 | Convenience 4/10
The winning gumbo had a good rice to soup ratio, and great rice generally. It actually wasn’t on top flavor-wise, but it surged ahead because of its great texture – silky smooth. The flavor, which was still quite good, was smoky and rich. It had no noticeable okra, which the Boy liked.
And there you have it! Our gumbo roundup for New Orleans. Did we miss your favorite? Do you like this segment? Hopefully we’ll have another for you before too long…