by Steven Doyle
Gumbo is that delicious pot of stew that starts off with a roux, that chocolate brown thickener that gives gumbo its distinctive hue and rich flavor. In New Orleans a meat-based gumbo may consist of chicken, turtle, duck, squirrel, rabbit or alligator. Seafood-based gumbo generally has shrimp, crab, and sometimes oysters. Most varieties of gumbo are seasoned with a special mirepoix consisting of onions, bell pepper, and celery, or what they call the Holy Trinity. Today, most people are familiar with seafood gumbo and chicken and sausage gumbo.
Let’s check in to some of our favorite places in Dallas that make a mean bowl of gumbo just in time for Fat Tuesday dining.
Amberjax takes great pride in serving some terrific seafood items, with a fresh fish case located for your perusal in the foyer of the restaurant in Trinity Groves. Seats are a premium, and they typically sell out nightly, so best to get early reservations. This gumbo is served traditionally with a side of potato salad instead of the more familiar rice. Many of my friends from Louisiana tell us that this is how they grew up eating gumbo.
If you read craveDFW with any regularity you will know we are huge fans of TJ’s Seafood Market. We should be well paid for extolling the virtues of this marvelous addition to the Dallas seafood landscape, but we will settle on just knowing we are doing our part to enlighten the public about this restaurant. There are two locations in Dallas, with the newest at Preston and Royal with larger digs and more selection. TJ’s will have the best crawfish once the season hits its stride, and you may order the mudbugs by the bushel bag. If you do not have a setup at home to perform a boil, TJ’s has the equipment available for loan. Or you can just sidle up to the bar and grab a bowl of gumbo.
Nates Seafood in Addison also has some wonderful crawfish, with its signature spice rub that kicks up the already flavorful crustacean. The gumbo has the dark brown patina that is the mark of some great eating. Be sure to indulge on the buttery garlic bread and hushpuppies.
We recently reviewed the Lowest Greenville Ragin’ Crab, and loved their gumbo.
Flying Fish has several location in Dallas and also serves some spicy crawfish that rings Mardi Gras for revelers of all ages. The gumbo served at Flying Fish just adds spark to any plate of seafood ordered here, including a few pounds of crawfish.
You will have met your spicy match with the gumbo at Free Man Cafe in Deep Ellum. For an extra kick in the head, the bowl is garnished with a few spicy blacked shrimp for good measure. Enjoy nightly live music, including Dixieland and jazz by the Freeloaders, the in-house band headed up by the owner John Jay Meyers. Their rendition of St James Infirmary is spot on delicious.
Bucky Moonshine is located in Deep Ellum and serves up a mess of dishes from the deep south including oyster po boys, catfish and fried green tomatoes. The gumbo is other worldly.
20 Feet Seafood Joint is our go to for fantastic seafood in East Dallas. Enjoy the clams, very affordable bluepoint oysters, a delicious lobster roll and more. But the gumbo is pretty much requisite. Chef Cassel is also very famous for his Green Room mussels dish.
Shell Shack is undoubtedly one of our favorite spots for crabs of all sorts, they also make a mean pot of gumbo. And crab.