Sometimes you just want comfort food and health be damned. If you’re American, Gumbo Ya Ya, specialist in chicken and waffles, is the place for you. I’m not sure how authentic it is as a soul food restaurant, but it sure hits the comfort spot.
The first thing I noticed in this tiny white-tiled place decorated with African barbers’ signs was the plastic baskets filled with a great variety of sauces, some of them made by Heinz, including the curry mango sauce and mustard barbecue sauce. Who knew that Heinz had branched out so far from ketchup (Gumbo Ya Ya notes on the menu that “neither ketchup nor mayonnaise is served in the House of Soul Food.” Go figure.)?
The basket also holds various kinds of Tabasco sauce, including chipotle, Sabormex salsa de habanero and Sriracha Mayo Sauce, to mention just a few. I tried almost all of them and can highly recommend the last three mentioned.
Among the five of us, we sampled almost everything on the menu. The fried chicken is nice and moist, with a crunchy, spicy crust, but the waffles were a bit disappointing, not as light as they should have been.
The coleslaw was fresh and tasty, the perfect counterpoint to the gloriously gooey mac and cheese topped with melted Velveeta.
The (fried) chicken burger with cheddar and coleslaw, served with good homemade fries, was a favorite with my friends.
And, you can even get healthy food at Gumbo YaYa. One of my friends had a side salad of avocado and baby spinach, and another, who had finished breakfast not long before showing up for lunch, ordered a veggie bowl, with spinach, avocado, coleslaw, bell peppers and okra, served with tasty cornbread.
After all that, not even a thought of dessert flickered through our minds, although if we had been courageous enough, we could have sampled the waffle of the day or pecan pie.
Gumbo YaYa does not take reservations and fills up very quickly, so get there early and queue up for comfort.