Houston has no shortage of Cajun or Mexican restaurants, but as Yendi Thompson tells it, nobody thought to combine the two cuisines to create what she claims to be the first dish of its kind.
Enter the gumbo quesadilla.
A flour tortilla, grilled to a walnut brown on the outside, is filled with just enough roux to hold together chicken, sausage and cheese, among other ingredients. The gumbo oozes out with each bite and hits diners in the back of the throat with a hint of heat.
A gumbo quesadilla is the first of its kind, according to owners of Supreme Gumbo.
It’s one of Thompson’s best sellers at Supreme Gumbo, which started as a roving trailer during the early days of the pandemic. She and her husband, Barry Thompson, later opened inside a gas station in Third Ward and soon customers flocked to a deli counter — or a bodega, as the Thompsons like to call it — for gumbo quesadillas and gumbo tacos.  
The surge of popularity and lines for the Cajun-meets-Mexican dishes can be credited to social media platforms such as TikTok and Facebook, Yendi said. To meet that demand, Supreme Gumbo recently opened in the Heights area at 1040 West Calvalcade Street.
While Supreme Gumbo is a viral hit — some posts garner millions of views — it’s also sparking debates around Thompson’s gumbo recipe and the novelty of combining a Cajun classic with another cuisine.
“It’s either you like it or you don’t,” said Yendi, about her gumbo. “Some people like it thick as snot or thin as water.” (Hers is somewhere in between.)
The Supreme Platter at Supreme Gumbo includes: crab gumbo, catfish and French fries, gumbo tacos, gumbo quesadilla and boudin balls.
On a recent Friday, Alicia Zapata and her husband wanted to join the growing number of Supreme Gumbo customers, whom they watched on TikTok.
The couple drove nearly two hours from Victoria to check out the new Heights-area outpost weeks after a visit to the Third Ward location, which had sold out of gumbo.
“You’d think everyone was eating these tacos,” said Zapata. “We had to try it for ourselves — even if there was a line.”
They ordered the trio of gumbo tacos and enjoyed their meal on a patio ahead of a concert that night at Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion in The Woodlands.
SPICY RAMEN: LA’s hit ramen shop Killer Noodle to open Houston location, its first outside of California
Yendi Thompson, 43, and Barry Thompson, 44, never worked in a restaurant before launching Supreme Gumbo.
Now a fourth generation gumbo maker, Yendi started piecing together her mother’s recipe a few years ago. When the pandemic hit, Yendi’s work as a fashion stylist dried up, so she spent the time perfecting the gumbo.
The crab gumbo at Supreme Gumbo.
She won’t share the exact recipe but it calls for 30 different spices and she’s tweaked the formula so that it can cook in four hours.
After one bite, Barry had a few words: “You nailed it. Let’s sell it.”
From their home in Richmond, they started filling pint- and quart-sized Mason jars with silky-textured, deep-amber-hued gumbo. They posted on social media and started delivering across town.
They decided to buy a trailer, so they could hold pop-ups and sell more gumbo in addition to burgers and Philly cheesesteaks. Barry is from Philadelphia; Yendi grew up in Houston, but her family hails from Opelousas, La.
Business was up and down, Yendi said, but when they saw a taco joint profit off the birria trend, they decided to go that direction — with a twist.
Instead of the fire-engine red mix of goat meat typically used in birria tacos, they filled tortillas with gumbo. They also took a page from the booming birria trend by selling the tacos with a side of the Cajun classic, served in a Styrofoam cup, for dunking.
Gumbo tacos at Supreme Gumbo 
They posted a video to Facebook and, Yendi said, “it popped.” 
MORE FROM BAO ONG: He almost lost his life in Iraq. Now Feges pitmaster serves craft barbecue to veterans free of charge.
The success of Supreme Gumbo is similar to the success of countless dishes that become viral via social media. 
But despite that its success is rooted in a historical recipe that’s been passed from one generation to another, feedback on social media can be harsh at times.
“You can’t disrespect gumbo like this,” was one comment Yendi said she remembers.
She brushes off the criticism and said “gumbo is the Birkin bag of food,” referring to one of the most exclusive luxury handbags on the market from the French brand Hermès. Like the bags that can fetch six figures, every element is critiqued.
Yendi says she’s constantly tweaking her gumbo recipe.
“What’s going to separate me from everyone else?” said Yendi.
The Third Ward location inside a deli is no longer selling gumbo because the Thompsons want to manage the lines from their Heights location.
“Come Get These Groceries” is the slogan of Supreme Gumbo.
Another taco-centric concept is in the works and is set to launch later this fall, Yendi said.
Supreme Gumbo HTX
Address: 1040 W. Cavalcade 
Website: facebook.com/supremegumbotx/
Hours: Currently under a soft opening, but open around 12:30 to 8 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays.
“I like to think of myself as a taco designer,” she said. “Gumbo tacos were just the hook.”
Bao Ong is a restaurant columnist for the Houston Chronicle.

source

Shop Sephari