500BestSquareGumbo Ya-Ya @ Mr. B’s Bistro

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Mr. B’s has two gumbos: seafood gumbo without a roux, and a chicken andouille gumbo with a very dark roux. When the place opened in 1979, chicken gumbo was a rarity in restaurants. It would not remain so. Gumbo ya-ya–the name they gave to their dense chicken gumbo–was so spectacular and created so much talk that other Creole bistros, who were busy imitating Mr. B’s in other ways, added it to their menus.

Mr. B's Gumbo Ya-Ya, the best gumbo in all of New Orleans.

Mr. B’s Gumbo Ya-Ya, the best gumbo in all of New Orleans.

The recipe was created by Paul Prudhomme at Commander’s Palace, and brought over to the more casual Mr. B’s. It has remained their signature soup ever since. The dark roux is abetted with an intense chicken stock, great smoky andouille from Laplace, and a perfect seasoning balance. It’s difficult for me to dine at Mr. B’s without at least a taste of the stuff from somebody else’s bowl. (Like my son’s. He loves it as much as I do.) It remains, after all these years, the best gumbo of any kind in this city.

The name comes from the title of a book by Lyle Saxon and Robert Tallant. It’s an anthology of Louisiana folk tales. After many decades, it’s still in print.

Mr. B’s Bistro. French Quarter: 201 Royal. 504-523-2078.

This is among the 500 best dishes in New Orleans area restaurants. Click here for a list of the other 499.

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