When you ask most New Orleanians where to get the best gumbo, they’ll likely say their mom or grandma. If you’re not from here and your grandma doesn’t know the difference between gummy bears and gumbo, there is a simple and affordable solution.
Orleans Seafood Po-Boys & Grill, the restaurant that took over the old Taco Bell drive-thru at Claiborne and Louisiana Avenue, serves some incredible gumbo for hardly any money at all. Their chicken and andouille rendition of this classic dish is nice and thick, with not too much rice and a serious Cajun spicy kick and smoky flavor. Orleans Seafood does not skimp on their meat-to-soup ratio; it serves its traditional stew with huge hunks of sausage and large tender pieces of slow-cooked chicken. People with shellfish allergies should be wary, though, since I found a random shrimp floating in this non-seafood gumbo.
If you’re a shellfish lover though, you have to check out Hank’s Seafood and Supermarket on St. Claude Avenue in the Bywater. This convenience store cooks up an incredibly diverse seafood gumbo with all sorts of goodies in it, including whole crab claws, shrimp, and crawfish (none of which are peeled). If you’re lucky, you’ll find some turkey neck. This is by far my favorite gumbo in the city, and super cheap. Both of these gumbos run under five bucks and keep you full for hours. Granted, the seafood gumbo from Hank’s is a bit of a messy meal with all that peeling you have to do to get to the good stuff, but it’s worth it if you have some wet-naps.