HOUGuide

The Best Gumbo In Houston

The best shrimp, andouille sausage, and roux in Houston.
bowl of gumbo with shrimp topping the bowl and white rice in the center

photo credit: Richard Casteel

What makes a good bowl of gumbo depends on who you’re asking. Some folks make judgments based on the color and thickness of the roux, some need enough Cajun spice to make their eyes water, and others won’t even try a spoonful if there aren't at least three types of seafood involved. And while we’ve never turned a gumbo away based on what ingredients made the pot, we have found the supreme bowls in the city. Here are the 10 restaurants serving the best gumbo.

THE SPOTS

photo credit: Quit Nguyen

Cajun

East Downtown

$$$$Perfect For:Quick EatsSerious Take-Out OperationCheap Eats

While most people come to The Cajun Stop to crack open crawfish, the gumbo is the sleeper hit of the menu. The opaque roux hides the seafood in the dish, but it’s easy to taste all the hidden elements after a spoonful. And while the roux is on the thinner side, the smokiness of the gumbo here rivals even the thickest bowls on this guide. Grab a cup of the seafood gumbo the next time you find yourself at this EaDo place having a crawfish boil.

photo credit: Vivian Leba

$$$$Perfect For:Casual Weeknight Dinner

At Backyard Boil House in the Third Ward, your cup might literally be overflowing with gumbo. Not only is every spoonful all but guaranteed to include a piece of shrimp or shreds of crab meat bathed in spicy roux, but there’s a hefty crab claw topping each portion to remind us that sometimes, more is more. Come to Backyard Boil House on the weekends and have your gumbo with a glass of chardonnay and the sounds of Anita Baker in the background.

In a gumbo, a little spice goes a long way and the bowl at Goode Company Seafood in Upper Kirby proves it. The copper-colored bowl has fresh shrimp and okra swimming in the roux, with a few skoshes of cayenne that slowly builds in the back of your mouth. Plus, their gumbo comes with toasted garlic bread so no drop gets left behind.

photo credit: Liz Silva

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In a guide almost entirely made up of seafood gumbo, the Drew's Smoked Chicken & Sausage Gumbo at Eunice feels special. This bowl has smoky chicken and a few pieces of andouille sausage, and every piece works hard to bring Cajun flavor. It's all balanced—the meat, the clumps of rice, the okra, and the roux that’s dark but not too thick. Order this Upper Kirby bowl when you need a Happy Hour boost or want a crustacean-free gumbo.

We love the gumbo z’herbs at Lucille’s in the Museum District because it can be dressed up or dressed down. The standard bowl comes with smoked ham hock slices and snappy andouille sausages that have just a hint of spice, but add giant shrimp to your bowl to get a seafood gumbo loaded with heat. Either way, a small mound of white rice sits at the center of a dark roux base that's thick enough to put a summer heatwave to shame.

You have to order a bowl of the “everything gumbo” at Gatlin’s Fins & Feathers in because getting just a cup isn’t enough. No ingredient gets left behind in this spicy gumbo with a roux as dark as the bayou. So go big and order a large serving of smoked sausage, spicy shrimp, chicken, crab, and okra by the spoonful, and scoop up any of the remaining roux with the white rice in the center of the bowl.

Rainbow Lodge specializes in wild game meats. So swapping smoked duck into an otherwise traditional bowl of gumbo fits the theme. The bold flavor of the duck permeates the medium-bodied roux balanced by wild rice pilaf and peppery andouille sausage. It’s deep, rich, and roughly the same color as the log cabin walls. Plus, a bowl of this will warm you up for the rest of your dinner full of grilled elk, venison, and wild boar.

Winnie’s calls this Houston’s best gumbo for a reason, and we agree it’s pretty top-tier. The silky gumbo here tastes almost caramelized, as though it was spiked with molasses. Served with smoked chicken, andouille sausage, and a pile of white rice, the nutty, nearly black gumbo drips off the spoon like velvet. No matter the weather, a bowl feels comforting, especially after a tray of Gulf Coast oysters or alongside a half-dozen wings. 

Brennan’s is a Creole classic, and so is its gumbo du jour. With a deep, mahogany-colored roux, a seafood broth base, and a sprinkling of filé herbs like soup perfume, the details of this gumbo are all dialed in, probably because Brennan’s has been making it for years. And even though the toppings like andouille sausage, shrimp, and crawfish rotate seasonally, the base stays consistently excellent, balancing richness with smoke, seafood, and a nutty roux. For a seasoned gumbo—both spice and skill-wise—go to Brennan’s.

photo credit: Quit Nguyen

$$$$Perfect For:LunchQuick Eats

When you find yourself Downtown for lunch or in the Memorial area, Treebeards is the place for gumbo. This has a hefty roux-to-seafood-and-vegetable ratio, and the deep flavor of shrimp and the "holy trinity" comes through in every spoonful. This Houston institution does gumbo as well as any spot on this list. Get some during your next leisurely midday meal.

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