Gumbo and grilled cheese weather has finally arrived! From roughly the 1970s until Katrina, most New Orleans schools served gumbo and grilled cheese about every other week during fall and winter. Only some schools still offer it now, and I’d be lying if I said that serving gumbo and grilled cheese during gumbo season wasn’t a factor in my OneApp choices. Imagine my joy the other day when I picked my son up from school and he told me that’s what was served!
The combination has such a devoted fan base that it’s even part of New Orleans pop culture. Clothing brand Patois 504 has a gumbo and grilled cheese shirt design, and rapper Dee-1’s album Free Lunch and Sallie Mae includes a gumbo and grilled cheese reference.
New Orleans Restaurants Serving Gumbo and Grilled Cheese
Though our school days are years behind us, that cold-weather craving for gumbo and grilled cheese still strikes hard. Here are four of our favorite places to get gumbo and grilled cheese in New Orleans.
You know how you tend to take the familiar for granted? Well, I’ve been living in the 7th Ward near St. Bernard and Broad my whole life, and that’s how I was about The Blue Store. I grew up going there, spending a dollar on two Chee-Wees and two Big Shots in the can; a couple nickels here and there on Long Boys and wine candies. Back then, I think the most you could get was a po’boy and of course a meat special to go home and make your own gumbo. I don’t think they started selling gumbo there until I was in high school, and even then, I always had random gumbo in the freezer so I didn’t go there for that.
But as an adult, whenever people found out I lived near The Blue Store, they always told me how much they loved the gumbo and grilled cheese. I finally tried it from there, and it was great. Lots of okra, which I personally love.
Legends in the gumbo and grilled cheese game, the midday line at Broad and Banks on the first cold day this season was easily 20 people long. The wait was short, however, as there’s a quick ordering system with large pans of grilled cheese sandwiches and pots of gumbo being brought out continuously. “What are you getting, mama? Initials, mama? Thank you, baby.” It’s also the most affordable in this list.
One thing I noticed when updating this article, is that so many restaurants in New Orleans you think would offer gumbo and grilled cheese, don’t. It was frustrating to me because so much of my favorite gumbo is made by people from here, who went to school in New Orleans at roughly the same time as I did. Can they please just consider getting a loaf of white bread, some Kraft singles and a tub of margarine?!
So in looking at menus across the city, I’ve determined that selling grilled cheese in the same place gumbo is sold is a knowing wink to the ones who get it. Enter: the Gumbo Shop. Two types of gumbo, grilled cheese, a lovely atmosphere.
Love, love, love, the service at Joey K’s and am thankful my friends Colby and Neeky put me on a few years back. I’m a 7th Ward girl who doesn’t really do a whole lot of Uptown, and I’m always glad to have a great recommendation. Joey K’s also serves an okra-rich gumbo in New Orleans, so if that’s your thing this could be your place.
My toxic trait is that when I have anything that disappoints me, I have to remedy it immediately. So when I went to an event with yakamein I didn’t like, I had to find good yakamein near me the next day. I went to Today’s Cajun and thank God because the yakamein was perfect. While there, I got a gumbo and grilled cheese because I like to keep a mental list of where to get good gumbo in a hurry in case of a gumbo emergency. Yes, gumbo emergencies exist and I’m now confident Today’s Cajun Seafood in New Orleans could serve as a first responder for me, should such an emergency arise.