There are a lot of elements that contrast New York City with New Orleans. Architecture, climate, nightlife, and historical worth are all quite different, and foodies will be first to point out this upsetting consideration: Us Yanks just haven’t experienced a real bowl of gumbo unless we ate it in the South. That said, there’s a sweet little spot in Brooklyn’s Boerum Hill neighborhood that does a remarkable job of compacting New Orleans flavor into roughly 200 square feet…including the gumbo!
Walking into The Gumbo Bros, nestled right on Atlantic Avenue, one may be well inclined to think that they’ve stumbled into a wormhole in Brooklyn that placed them plop in the middle of Louisiana. Constructed from salvaged wood from Alabama and New Orleans, and adorned with vintage artwork and photographs that all come from southern artists, the Gumbo Bros has an authenticity to it like few other Cajun restaurants north of the Mason-Dixon Line. “We constructed the whole space from the ground up,” explains co-founder and chef Adam Lathan. “It was difficult, but we got to make it all exactly how we wanted.”
Meeting while undergraduates at LSU, Gumbo Brothers founders Lathan and Clay Boulware both went a more corporate route in their careers after college, and decided it wasn’t for them. They decided to give New York City a try and see what happened, and not long after they made the move, they realized that New York just didn’t have the great gumbo that they were used to. This needed to be rectified! They set up a pop-up shop that was part of Urban Spaces’ Madison Square Eats, and when this proved successful, they decided to take a stab at opening their own restaurant.
While they looked at several neighborhoods in New York, their realtor found a small manageable spot in Boerum Hill. Clay and Lathan were both quick to agree that the area had strategic worth, as it was near the court house, and could attract a large amount of people during lunch and after work hours. Initially, they thought that The Gumbo Bros would work as a grab-and-go, but their ambitions grew more substantial after they opened at the end of 2016.
“We’re striving to make our gumbo dishes better,” explains Lathan. “It’s such a difficult dish to make, and it’s one thing making it for yourself at home, but to work on it all day for a great amount of customers is another. We can’t cut corners.”
Even though Lathan feels he’s still perfecting the dish, customers at The Gumbo Bros are not likely to be disappointed with the taste or the variety. Currently serving three different versions (Seafood, Chicken and Andouille Sausage, and Vegetarian) the soup is highly delectable, and makes for a perfect appetizer.
The main entrees at The Gumbo Bros are primarily Po Boy sandwiches, which include fried catfish, roast beef, and fried shrimp. These are made with Liedenheimer bread, which is shipped directly from New Orleans. Also, with Mardi Gras approaching, The Gumbo Bros will be planning plenty of celebratory events and dishes, including an Oyster BLT, and Big-Ass Beers (yes, that is the marketed name). The restaurant also plans to have crawfish boils later in March, which Lathan is a big fan of. “They’re basically excuses for everyone to cut loose,” he said jovially. “Everyone just has a lot of fun.”
While Lathan says that he and his partner have toyed with the idea of opening other locations and introducing new concepts, their current priority is making The Gumbo Bros as good as possible right now. They obviously hope to attract more customers during the Mardi Gras season, and want to offer a Southern hospitality that just can’t be found anywhere else in the five boroughs. Whether you call the South you’re home, or otherwise, Gumbo Bros is one of the most idiosyncratic and satisfying spots to get a bite for anyone who finds themselves in the Boerum Hill area.
More on them here.