[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

Is it just me, or is there something transfixing about this bowl of gumbo ya-ya ($13) at Big Jones? I mean, no matter how long you gaze, you'll never see what's lurking underneath. And I can also completely understand those who think this mostly brown dish is actually straight up ugly. But for lovers of gumbo made with extra-dark roux—you can even see a few specks of black speckled about—this is the sign of potential greatness, which is exactly what you get.

What else should I have expected? After all, I already knew the Andersonville restaurant serves some of the crispiest, juiciest fried chicken in the city, which you can order as a generous platter with sides or as a pretty amazing sandwich. So, of course, it also dishes out one beguiling bowl of gumbo, one that is thick and complex as it looks. The housemade andouille is tender and well seasoned, but not overly spicy, while the hunks of chicken are tender and distinct, not tangled piles of mush.

But it's the broth that truly sets this apart. It sits heavy on the spoon, though there is no hint of chalkiness from the flour. In a way, this is almost the opposite kind of gumbo as the one served at Analogue, which is delicate and balanced. That last word doesn't apply to this one at all. Each sip tugs your tongue in different directions, which I guess you could find exhausting. Not me, mind you. Both gumbos are worth your time, which one is best for you just depends on your mood.

Big Jones

Editors' Pick

Big Jones

  • Andersonville

5347 N Clark St btwn Balmoral & Summerdale Ave Chicago IL 60640 7732755725

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