Sitting Pretty in the Gumbo Shop

630 St. Peter Street, New Orleans, Louisiana

By Patricia B. Mitchell, 2005.

The Gumbo Shop, New Orleans

Early afternoon in the Gumbo Shop, New Orleans.

My husband and I have eaten at the Gumbo Shop off and on for over 35 years, both when we lived in the French Quarter and when we have been tourists. And despite its prime Vieux Carre location, it's not a tourist trap, but rather an enjoyable place to eat. On our most recent visit to the handsome 1795 building at 630 St. Peter, the food and service were even better than we remembered.

Henry, two of our children, and I dined in the attractive, mural-enhanced dining room and enjoyed watching a skilled bartender (or as they say these days, a “mixologist”) prepare pretty drinks while we waited for our lunch. The wait was not too long, and, voila, we got our gumbos, red beans and rice, and beverages. My husband and I ordered the Seafood Okra Gumbo ($6.99), a thick, not-too-fishy soup with a little tomato, okra, celery, and bell pepper; and some shrimp and crab pieces, added after the other ingredients have cooked and simmered into happy harmony.

The Gumbo Shop's Red Beans and Rice with Smoked Sausage

The Gumbo Shop's Red Beans and Rice with Smoked Sausage.

Our son, Jonathan, opted for the Chicken Andouille Gumbo ($6.99). Andouille, a Cajun sausage, and chicken chunks in a seasoned chicken stock make up this substantial soup. Jonathan, however, was not crazy about his choice. Daughter Sarah chose Red Beans and Rice with Smoked Sausage ($7.99). She thought that the sausage was too “hot-doggy,” and that the beans, though good, were not as well-seasoned as the last time she ate there. Also she found that the big sausage, served in the bowl with the red beans and rice, was difficult to cut up and eat in a ladylike fashion. (It was easy to “slop” beans out of the bowl.)

Nevertheless, she said that if she hadn't had an earlier Gumbo Shop version of the Red Beans and Rice, she probably would have been more satisfied with the current rendition.

The Gumbo Shop's Seafood Okra Gumbo

The Gumbo Shop's Seafood Okra Gumbo.

Our waiter was efficient, the loaves of crisp French bread delicious, and the ambience delightful. One can dine in the historic building or in the charming courtyard. The restaurant is almost always open. The hours are 11 a.m. – 11 p.m. They take credit cards; see their website. And don't forget to eat a Praline Sundae ($3.99) any day of the week! It's a good thing to do in New Orleans.