Open for about a year (The Heights location), Gumbo Jeaux’s has already gained popularity among NOLA émigrés nostalgic for creole fare and Houstonians with a learned love of seafood and thick Louisiana sauces. Its casual, borderline bare-bones décor, friendly servers, and BYOB policy has further established Gumbo Jeaux’s as an establishment firmly focused on delivering authentic food at modest prices in a relaxed, low-key atmosphere. More laissez-faire than laissez les bons temps rouler, but it works.
The hands-down customer favorite at Gumbo Jeaux’s is the Catfish Opelousas, so named for its eponymous city of origin. Jeaux’s version features two blackened catfish filets dressed in étouffee on a mound of dirty rice. Adorning this terrific collaboration of crustaceans, cream, and carbohydrates are five large-and-in-charge fried prawns. “Mrs. Jeaux,” the presumed female counterpart to “Gumbo Jeaux,” lays claim to some other noteworthy dishes on the menu such as the Pasta LaShelle, which combines crawfish, crab, shrimp, and sausage with fettuccine and alfredo sauce made more piquant than usual via the addition of some extra spice. I’m sure Miss Patti herself would sing its praises. I also couldn’t get enough of the silky smooth Crawfish Bisque with ample pieces of crustacean meat and the straightforward but satisfying beans and rice.
The sandwiches, however, are the underdogs at Gumbo Jeaux’s and often unfairly albeit understandably overlooked in favor of those items that are more iconic in Creole cuisine. On at least one of your jaunts to Gumbo Jeaux’s (and, yes, the voluminous menu requires multiple visits to become fully acquainted with the offerings), order the Crab and Shrimp Cake Sandwich whose briny gulf flavors are well complemented by a dollop each of heated chipotle mayonnaise and sweet relish. Few sandwiches in Houston successfully straddle land and sea but on that short list is Gumbo Jeaux’s Surf and Turf Burger, which pairs a ground chuck patty with fried shrimp, then layers on the lettuce, tomato, battered onions, Monterey jack cheese, and pickles. Both aforementioned sandwiches are served on sweet, supple sourdough buns that are delicious but not quite adequate to contain their contents, so plan on using two hands.
Stray from the theme entrees at Gumbo Jeaux’s and you won’t be disappointed as the fried chicken is more than respectable and many laud the fish tacos. However, given superior versions of these dishes can be found at other Houston establishments, why not go with fleaux (see what I did there?) at Gumbo Jeaux’s and stick to the specialties.