gumbo-outside
Outside Anita’s Gumbo

Despite the horrible, hateful, spiteful and bitter cold, we are just loving it here in Chicago. Sip and Savor Coffee Shop got our teamed warmed up for some serious food.  We were on our way to Bear Down Barbecue, but after realizing it was close to 30 minutes away, we looked for something a lot closer for lunch; and planned to visit Bear Down for dinner.

Recently, I gained five pounds when conducting our New Orleans Black Food Tour, so, you can imagine how happy I was to stumble upon a hidden Chicago gem in Anita’s Gumbo, located at 8100 S Stony Island Ave, Chicago, IL 60617. The small take out spot is nestled between two other businesses in a shopping plaza; one of which was a pizza joint with the meanest restaurant logo I’ve ever seen.  The logo includes a cartoon character dressed in stereotypical homeless man clothes, drunk, drinking and spilling a pint of beer. Who does that?

manager-and-i-anita
Anita’s Gumbo Manager and The Hungry Black Man

Moving along, we were interested in seeing whether this place could stack up against the gumbo houses of NOLA.  I was a bit skeptical, until Mrs. Anita herself walked out the back of the restaurant. I knew the food was going to be FIE because she was a refined, super mature lady who looked like she has served over 20 years as usher board chair and as chairwoman of the hospitality committee of the 1st Baptist Church of Pentecost who cooked for the likes of T.D. Jakes, Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson…yeah that type of look!  I am happy to report; I was CORRECT!  Her cooking was EXACTLY WHAT I EXPECTED!  Sweet Jesus this gumbo was the $%#@.

pre-gumbo
Fresh seafood for Gumbo

African-American cuisine is quite regional with Gumbo hailing from the gulf region, specifically Louisiana.  We trace Gumbo origins to West African cuisine and over time African-American cooks have incorporated French, Spanish, German and Choctaw culinary influences in various Gumbo cooking styles. Anita’s gumbo was absolutely amazing with a roux so flavorful and spicy that I momentarily forgot I was in Chicago.

Wondering how the word “Gumbo” came to describe this deliciousness, I did a bit of researched and found most historians, academics and chefs agree that the name likely originated from the pronunciation of one of its two main ingredients—okra in the Niger-Congo languages spoken by many slaves from West Africa, the vegetable okra was known as ki ngombo or quingombo. Isn’t Black History just incredible!

anitas-gumbo-prpoducts
Gumbo (to the left), white rice, Gumbo Wings

Anita’s Gumbo had a nice thick roux with shrimp, scallops, okra and REAL CRAB MEAT; thankfully, because I hate imitation crab meat. Creole gumbo generally contains shellfish, tomatoes, and a dark roux, and in Anita’s case it had it all. You can also order a more Cajun style gumbo with the same amazing roux but instead of seafood, you can order it with chicken, sausage, or go completely vegetarian. Each dish is served in a bowl and comes with rice that soaks up the gumbo for an amazing taste. You can get the Nita’s Signature Gumbo for $10.00 (16 oz.) or $22.00 (32oz). The Cajun Gumbos are cheaper, but I’m bougie as $^#@!, so I got the most expressive, but bowls start at $7.00.

gumbo-wings
Gumbo Rice and Gumbo Wings

My next and last order was the Gumbo wings ($4.75) for 2 pieces.  Can’t get this anywhere else people. The wings were fried in the New Orleans fashion, tasting like 4 steps up from Popeye’s smothered with Anita’s delicious roux over rice with sausage, chicken, and veggies. God give me strength to continue this journey, because these wings have me so weak. I was on a food high. Like seriously. This little spot is by far the BEST GUMBO in Chicago. Everything about this dish was outstanding. I can’t rave enough on the authenticity of the cuisine here.

Let me put this into perspective: Anita’s Gumbo was not good gumbo for Chicago, but excellent gumbo for NOLA. I informed their manager, that honestly, it was the best gumbo I’ve had outside of NOLA PERIOD, and even better than many spots in NOLA. Additionally, service was quick and polite throughout our entire visit.

I am enjoying my time here in Chicago and can’t wait to visit Anita’s once more. This place receives the Hungry Black Man’s approval. You can reach them at (773) 734-2788 to place an order.

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Written by thehungryblackman

Starex Smith is an accomplished and experienced public administrator, fundraiser, foodie, and culinary business developer who has committed himself to maximizing the Black experience in the United States! He currently serves as Vice President of Strategy and Development for Black Tech Week with over twelve (12) years of experience in managing public/private partnerships, large scale events, and nonprofits. He has successfully raised over 20 million dollars in funding for various governmental entities, food companies, and individuals. Starex has assisted countless food industry businesses successfully obtain funding, taking mom and pop storefronts to scalable businesses. His success in working with restaurants sparked a passion for food and entrepreneurship which led to the launching of Sothern Bytes, a teaching platform food business dedicated to an ever evolving food industry with a focus on technology, culture and innovation. Having constantly run into stereotyping negatively affecting his dining and vacationing experiences, Starex decided to curate great destinations, restaurants, and discuss issues surrounding being a hungry Black man. Starex completed both his Bachelor’s and Master’s coursework in Public Administration at Florida International University where he served as president of the Black Student Union and Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Incorporated, Lambda Tau Chapter

19 comments

  1. Went to college in Louisiana and its been a struggle plate trying to find AUTHENTIC New Orleans gumbo. Look no further!
    Been going to Anita’s since they opened.
    Best gumbo PERIOD outside NOLA. You are correct!

    Like

  2. It is good. But I find it to be too spicy hot. I’ve had gumbo in New Orleans several times and I’ve never found it to be this hot. But when I don’t feel like making it myself, I puff through the heat at Anita’s! Lol

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It was a pleasure to have you visit Nita’s Gumbo. I am humbled by the remarks on my Grandmother Anita-brought tears of my eyes. Bless you and much success. Cynjora. Restaurant Manager

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  4. Your review clearly described your experience as wonderful. I am sure every word is true. I would challenge you to make a trip just west of there to Three Chefs 8125 S. Halsted and check out their gumbo. I’m curiously awaiting to hear about your thorough review of another excellent bowl of gumbo found in the hood. As you are wiping the bowl clean with toasted garlic bread, ask my son Wallace for one to go. You won’t be disappointed.

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  5. Thanks for the review. I want to make a special trip and try Grandma Anita’s gumbo. That 20 year usher comment was hilarious but I understood it completely. RFLMBO

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    1. i wouldn’t say all that but his review was defintiely not the BESt in Chicago, lol, it’s ok, but i went to spots in NOLA and was seriously disappointed. All of my cousins and aunt’s make fiye gumbo, And everyone knows I can eat gumbo everyday. This was ok and convenient, Heaven on Seven and Pappadeaux are better than this place, but both are different taste. Just glad to see it wasn’t me.

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