Do you remember that back in October we found out about a new barbecue place opening up on 457 Hyde, in the old Cafe Hurghada space? The place, to be named Hyde Away Blues BBQ, was to open by Thanksgiving, with the possibility of even opening at the beginning of November. Since the news broke out, Tender neighbors have been impatiently waiting to start enjoying Southern barbecue in the Loin. But, as is usually the case with restaurants, the date got pushed back a couple of times, and then some.

The space is almost ready to open now, but owner Lil May didn’t want to give us a specific date stating that they’re shooting for the end of the month. In the meantime, Lil May decided to throw a little “Valentine’s meet and greet” party last night, so that all the impatient relatives, friends and Loiners/Mooch-sters could get a preview of what’s to come. And let me tell you, it’s goooood.

Although the meat offerings were abundant and smelled heavenly, I only had their famous gumbo as I was busy taking pictures. It was filled with gloriously spicy shrimp, chicken and crab (you can see grrlinthecity having some here). Since my Southern food expertise is limited to a recent trip to New Orleans and Brenda’s food, I turned to Dave Williams (a native Louisianan and the owner of Hooker’s across the street) for a gumbo expert opinion. He wasn’t disappointed, and confirmed that it was “excellent”. His opinion was also shared by another excited attendee named Cassandra who proclaimed it “the best gumbo in the city“.

The space is quite small and starts feeling crowded with half a dozen people in it. In spite of the tight seating, they managed to host what seemed like the whole extended May family (there was, of course, Big May and Mama May, as well as sister May, cousin, auntie, and even a friend from high school with her boyfriend), as well as several neighbors and passersby. Hearing Lil May shout “We’re all family here, have something to eat!” while distributing the plates of food emphasized the overall feeling that this is not a place to go enjoy your personal space while eating silently in a corner. As one of the signs decorating the wallls (a NOLA classic) says “Be nice or leave”.

Speaking of decoration, Lil May has done wonders with the space using every inch of the walls to hang family pictures, records, vintage signs, barbecue awards and artwork. Definitely worth seeing. So stay tuned on their Facebook page for their official opening date or for other meet and greet events in the next weeks.