It’s absolutely not an exaggeration to say we’ve all been somewhat impatiently waiting for the opening of Gumbo Social. The upcoming restaurant not only claimed a spot on Eater SF’s list of most anticipated restaurant openings of this year but also earned similar shout-outs from the San Francisco Chronicle and Bon Appetit — whose list, by the way, covered restaurants from California to Rhode Island.
Which is all to say: the wait is almost over. In an announcement on the Gumbo Social website, owner Dontaye Ball says the restaurant will celebrate its grand opening on Saturday, June 3 from noon to 4 p.m., after which the restaurant will keep serving Ball’s famous soul food until 8 p.m. The restaurant is located at 5176 Third Street in San Francisco’s Bayview-Hunter’s Point neighborhood. Those interested in attending the grand opening, which will include comments from public officials and a DJ, can RSVP online. Ball says he’s excited about the second-line band he’s bringing to the opening: The Gumbo Band is led by local jazz legend David Hardiman, and they’re going to march down Third Street to the shop. Before the pandemic, Ball says the Bayview had live music about twice a week. “Live music is a game changer,” Ball says. “It’s gonna be a party.”
As Eater SF reported back in late 2022, the menu will include a “build-your-own” gumbo option, plus “a selection of other soul food favorites including five po’ boys and the California greens and other vegan options,” per the announcement. Add-ons, like roasted jackfruit and pork belly, will rotate depending on availability. The owner says folks will be able to “hack the menu,” like a Chipotle, but for gumbo. Ball says there are still some details coming together on the permitting front, but the hope is to bring dessert into the shop eventually. Ball, who’s fondly known as Mr. Gumbo to his many fans, earned a following after cooking these dishes and others at farmers markets around the city including the Sunset Mercantile farmers market in the Outer Sunset and the Ferry Plaza Market on Thursday nights.
Ball is a strong advocate for the power of the dish that makes up the foundation of his burgeoning business. “I firmly believe that Gumbo is the most important food to American culture and society,” Ball’s quoted as saying on the restaurant website. He previously cooked at Delfina, the Cal-Italian queen of 18th Street, and launched a Kickstarter to raise the funds to move into this permanent space. “If you can make it in the Bayview, you can make it anywhere,” Ball told Eater SF last year. “My goal is to make gumbo America’s national dish, and this is how I’m gonna do it.”
Gumbo Social (5176 Third Street, San Francisco) opens on June 3 and will serve lunch and dinner from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday.