For some weird, unexplained (perhaps even masochistic) reason, people in LA love to forget that it actually gets cold here. Sure, it’s not the frozen tundra that is the East Coast, and we’re pretty sure that the last time it snowed here was literally in 1962, but when the sun starts to set at 4pm and your roommate refuses to let you turn the heat on, there’s no better salve for those chilly LA nights than a warm bowl of gumbo - no matter where you fall on the body temperature scale. From deep, rich roux to impeccably seasoned chicken andouille, here are 5 Great Gumbo Spots in LA.
This might just be the Holy Grail of LA gumbo. The roux is dark, rich, and impossibly silky. It’s thick enough to coat a spoon and packs just the right amount of heat - enough to remind you that it’s there, but never so hot that it overwhelms the rest of the flavors at work here. And the meat - juicy, plump pieces of shrimp, crab, and sausage - comes well-seasoned, making for a properly hearty stew. Served over a bed of white rice and with some seasoned French bread, this is the kind of comforting, nourishing meal you need to get you through the cold, bitter days leading up to the release of Lee Isaac Chung’s Minari.
If Stevie’s is the Golden Child, then Darrow’s New Orleans Grill is like their younger, scrappier little brother. The Prince Harry to Stevie’s William, if you will. Because although it may not be number one in our hearts, it’s still a damn good bowl of gumbo. The star of the show here is obviously the meat - from the imported Louisiana Blue Crab to the chicken sausage and andouille, every morsel is impeccably seasoned and complements the thick, gravy-like roux perfectly. Make sure to get the filé gumbo ya ya - unlike the regular filé gumbo, this one comes with a mountain of jambalaya and French bread.
Harold & Belles Restaurant
Even in quarantine, eating at this 50-year-old South LA staple is still the kind of nice, wholesome experience you forgot existed after a particularly rough day of literally no one letting you merge in traffic. There are two types of gumbo here - one, a traditional filé with a dark roux, lots of sausage, chicken, shrimp, and meaty pieces of crab, and the other, a vegetarian okra gumbo made with stewed tomatoes, and the, holy trinity of simmered onions, bell peppers, and celery, making for a hearty, flavor-packed soup sure to build your strength back up before you hit the roads.
If you’re a fan of crab, you’re going to be a fan of the gumbo at My Two Cents. There’s basically an ocean’s worth of meat in this Pico Blvd. spot’s version of the dish, and you get excellent, fatty shreds of crustacean in every single bite. There’s also fresh scallop, giant hunks of okra, and tasty bits of shrimp to balance out the crab. And while this soul food spot’s roux is on the thin side, it’s packed with seafood flavor, and the French bread on the side soaks up the broth beautifully.
The roux at this shack in Long Beach might be thinner and lighter than the others on this list, but that doesn’t mean that it’s any less complex. Smooth and silky like the voice of Luther Vandross, this satin-like seafood gumbo is filled with nice chunks of shredded chicken, shrimp, and crab legs, and packs a salty (but pleasant) punch.