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Best of 2001: Best Gumbo

Juke Joint Café
327 Fourth Avenue, Gaslamp
www.jukejointcafe.com

Louisiana gumbo is not a Campbell's soup. Thick and spicy, somewhere between a soup and a stew, and between the devil's lure and heaven's reward to good eaters, it's a dish that each Louisiana cook makes with his own secret recipe. Juke Joint's "Gaslamp Gumbo" is definitive, the real thing, up there with New Orleans' own best, rich enough to draw tears of pleasure. Instead of a typical San Diego big-rice-little-meat ratio, it sports just a dollop of rice on top to mix in as you see fit. It's a filé gumbo, thickened with an aromatic ground sassafras-thyme mixture (filé) as well as roux, a flour-and-fat mixture painstakingly sautéed to a mahogany-red color. The broth also includes chicken bits, soft green pepper squares, okra so nicely cooked you hardly know it's there, and juicy, spicy smoked sausage that tastes as if it came straight from some smokehouse on the Cajun Prairie. When you stir in the chopped raw scallions floating as garnish, they give it up to the liquid, too. Along with the accompanying soulful corn muffins, a big bowl of this gumbo is all you need for a dinner or a thrill.

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Juke Joint Café
327 Fourth Avenue, Gaslamp
www.jukejointcafe.com

Louisiana gumbo is not a Campbell's soup. Thick and spicy, somewhere between a soup and a stew, and between the devil's lure and heaven's reward to good eaters, it's a dish that each Louisiana cook makes with his own secret recipe. Juke Joint's "Gaslamp Gumbo" is definitive, the real thing, up there with New Orleans' own best, rich enough to draw tears of pleasure. Instead of a typical San Diego big-rice-little-meat ratio, it sports just a dollop of rice on top to mix in as you see fit. It's a filé gumbo, thickened with an aromatic ground sassafras-thyme mixture (filé) as well as roux, a flour-and-fat mixture painstakingly sautéed to a mahogany-red color. The broth also includes chicken bits, soft green pepper squares, okra so nicely cooked you hardly know it's there, and juicy, spicy smoked sausage that tastes as if it came straight from some smokehouse on the Cajun Prairie. When you stir in the chopped raw scallions floating as garnish, they give it up to the liquid, too. Along with the accompanying soulful corn muffins, a big bowl of this gumbo is all you need for a dinner or a thrill.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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