photo credit: Carly Hackbarth

Gumbo Social  image

Best New Restaurants


Gumbo Social

Soul Food


$$$$Perfect For:LunchWalk-InsCasual Weeknight Dinner
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San Francisco isn't a gumbo town, but Gumbo Social is here to change that. This fan-favorite pop-up turned Bayview brick-and-mortar has clearly mastered the art of the slow-cooked stew. Their gumbos are downright revelatory—every bowl is rich, buttery, and creamy at once. 

The menu at this counter-service spot is simple—no need to over-complicate things when the gumbo alone has us standing outside the door like a puppy eagerly waiting for a walk outside. A deep, dark roux is simmered with a secret blend of species (paprika, cayenne, and black pepper notes really shine through), perfectly browned okra, and the holy trinity of Cajun cooking (onions, bell peppers, and celery for the uninitiated). Two kinds are usually on offer: chicken and sausage, and a smoked turkey (there’s occasionally a vegan option, but call ahead for availability). Both taste pretty similar—intensely caramelly, a touch nutty, and slightly spicy. However, the andouille adds smokiness to the chicken and sausage, and elevates it to star player. 

Gumbo Social  image

photo credit: Carly Hackbarth

Gumbo Social  image

photo credit: Carly Hackbarth

What else is a star? The old-timey wooden cabinet near the front of the restaurant, full of rows and rows of hot sauces. Dive into it because there’s no upper limit to how spicy to make gumbo. Your bowl will skyrocket straight to the stratosphere with any combination of vinegary, smoky, or citrusy hotness. Jalapeño-based sauces, Caribbean-style habeñero, and the ever-elusive Tabasco chipotle are all here. Choose your own spice tolerance, and raise your endorphins.

Gumbo—and the hot sauces—are the headliners, but the po’boys are an excellent closer. Eating one will have you asking, "When is Gumbo Social opening up Po’Boy Social, with twenty locations across the city?" These po’boys are a masterclass in sandwich making. A hunk of French bread is toasted, stuffed with crunchy coleslaw, a creamy-garlicky sauce of our dreams, and filled with one of four amazing protein choices. Zero in on the char-grilled shrimp or the fall-apart roasted pork for the juiciest, most satisfying experience. 

Gumbo Social  image

photo credit: Carly Hackbarth

The final thing to know: this place is casual to the max. Inside are just a few basic tables and some plain white walls, and compostable paper plates and cups take the place of silverware. And since Gumbo Social is focused on pumping out the best food possible, above all else, service is quick. Coming here never feels like hard work. 

Like that friend that always stops by unannounced, we’ll make any excuse to drop in for another bowl, or po’boy. And we’re not the only ones. The gumbos often sell out, so get in early, especially if you want seconds. You’re going to want seconds.

Food Rundown

Gumbo Social  image

photo credit: Carly Hackbarth

Chicken And Sausage Gumbo

Don’t be surprised when you dream about this. It’s textbook gumbo, amped up with smoky and plump andouille, just the way we like it.
Gumbo Social  image

photo credit: Carly Hackbarth

Smoked Turkey Gumbo

It’s made from the same great roux as the chicken and sausage, and is an excellent choice. But still, we’re penning our love letter to the one with andouille.
Gumbo Social  image

photo credit: Carly Hackbarth

Grilled Shrimp Po’Boy

These are some of the juiciest grilled shrimp ever. When combined with the crunchy coleslaw and plump bread, it’s creamy, charred bliss.

Roasted Pork Po’Boy

The ideal sandwich for anyone who fantasizes about juicy, tender pork.
Gumbo Social  image

photo credit: Carly Hackbarth

Red Beans And Rice With Roasted Duck

Depending on the day, this was either full of fall-apart duck in saucy red beans or the dish was overall dry (dry duck and dry red beans). This inconsistent side is excellent when it’s great but disappointing when it misses the mark.

Sauteed Corn With Cherry Tomatoes

This salad is just some good corn with a lot of butter. It's a solid side to have with the gumbo, but by no means necessary.

Watermelon Salad

One of several salads on the menu that changes constantly. This one comes with watermelon, arugula, and cucumber, and a sprinkle of cotija cheese. At the end of the day, this is just a simple, refreshing salad that’s a nice light contrast with the rich gumbos.

Banana Pudding

You’re going to want to order this banana pudding (made by local pop-up Yes Pudding), grab it from the drink fridge, and dig in. The banana flavor is deliciously intense, the vanilla wafers are beautifully crunchy, and the pudding is creamy.

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Suggested Reading

A spread of po'boys, gumbo, and salad at Gumbo Social

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