Inclusivity gumbo

Illustration by Maria Ratinova

Celestin’s has been around forever—off and on, anyway—and it’s vegetarian gumbo was famous in the vegan community. Originally opened in 1983, it reopened last spring at 3610 McKinley Boulevard after a seven-year hiatus so owners Phoebe and Patrick Celestin could care for their grandkids. Phoebe said the vegetarian gumbo has been on the menu since 1985, and they sell five to 10 daily. However, when ordering one recently, the waiter said it wasn’t vegan. Wait, what? Could all of those vegans have been eating something with animal products all these years? Celestin suspects the waiter may have confused the flour in the gumbo’s roux to be the nonvegan ingredient, which it isn’t, because wheat is a plant. She assured it is vegan, as are other items on the menu that aren’t marked as vegan, including sweet potato fries, corn cakes, Cuban black beans and tomato avocado salad. “We believe in inclusivity,” she said, and in 2019, look out for vegan chiquetailles and cookies added to the menu.