Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > San Francisco Bay Area >
Jan 17, 2006 11:35 PM

Vallejo: Gumbah’s Menu – Italian Beef, Cheese Steak, Chicago dogs, Gyros, more

  • r

Today I had a delicious lunch at Gumbah’s and it has had quite a few positive reports thru the years.

Since these items are often asked about on the board, Gumbah’s reports are infrequent, the hours are brief and the location out of the way … I thought I’d list the items on the menu followed by Chowhound comments about any of the items sampled. They are followed by asterisks ***. JojoA mentioned lots of customers on his visit were ordering the Smokey Joe, but no reports from Chowhounds.

This is a great little place that shouldn’t be overlooked and I hope Chowhounds will report back on some of those items waiting to be tried.

Time seems to stand still at Gumbah’s. It was up for sale in 2003 when the first report came on the board. The owner wanted to retire. I think he is still there. Even at that time the “NEW” pastrami sandwich was reported. It’s still listed as “NEW” on the menu.

This place isn’t suffering for business. At noon it was packed with a line to the door and most of the nooks in the restaurant occupied. The service is very efficient though and orders, although made to order, are promptly filled.

They also cater and sell party packs … a pound of Italian Beef with gravy, a loaf of Italian bread, a quart of chili, large container of hot or sweet peppers, etc.


Italian Beef Sandwich ***
Thinly sliced roast beef simmered in its own special gravy, served on an Italian roll with sweet or hot peppers.

The Chicago Hot Dog ***
An all beef hot dog served on a steamed poppy seed bun served with ‘the works’ (mustard, relish, onions, pickles, tomatoes and sports peppers)

Italian Sausage Sandwich
Our own sausage made with Gumbah’s seasonings and served with sweet or hot peppers

Smokey Joe
Thin sliced Angus beef cooked on the grill with our special bar-b-que sauce served on a fresh baked warm bun with mustard and dill pickle

Gyro (pronounced yee-ro)
A fine blend of beef and lamb and mild seasonings served on pita bread with tomato wedges, slivered onions and topped with a cucumber dressing.

Gumbah’s Cheese Steak ***
Genuine Philly cheese steak sandwich-only larger than most-with 5 ounces of black Angus beef served with grilled onions and our special cheese and peppers on an authentic Philadelphia roll (With grilled mushrooms and additional 50 cents)

Gumbah’s Chicken Cheese Steak
Served with our special cheese and peppers

Hot Town Griller
A wonderful foot long sausage with a little fire. Served on an Italian roll with caramelized grilled onions, mustard and sweet peppers.

Gumbah’s New Pastrami Sandwich ***
A melt-in-your-mouth pastrami delivered to us from Chicago, served with hot or regular mustard, with a large dill pickle, on a light rye bun made specially for Gumbah’s.

Polish Sausage ***
A hickory smoked sausage served on a steamed poppy seed bun served with ‘the works’

Dago Dog
Italian sausage served on a steamed poppy seed bun dressed like a hot dog

Beefy Cheese Sandwich
Italian beef and jack cheese sandwich with sweet or hot peppers

Combo Sandwich
Italian beef & Sausage served on Italian roll with sweet or hot peppers

Beefy Cheese combo
Jack cheese layered between Italian beef and sausage and served with sweet or hot peppers

Chili Dog

Chili Cheese Dog

Jumbo beer battered onion rings

Fries Fries Fries ***

Regular, garlic, BBQ, Cajun, parmesan, cheese, chili, chili cheese
Our new cheddar cheese fries are fantastic

Gumbahs’ Famous Chili

Chicago Pizza – Thin Crust ***
Cheese and Sausage
95% of the pizza sold in Chicago is thin crust-it is wonderful! Prepared with our own sauce and sausage and topped with Wisconsin cheese

Carrot Cake (the grand finale)
Super moist and topped with a rich cream cheese frosting.


Italian Beef Sandwich ***

JojoA: Sensing I had never been there before, Buddy asked the kitchen to give me a sample of their signature item, the Italian beef. This thinly sliced roasted beef was tender and tasty, with its juices deliciously soaked into the bread underneath. The full version is served on an Italian roll with either sweet or hot peppers.

Melanie Wong: This was my first experience with the genre. In fact, I posted on the Chicago board … to try to get a handle on how close this might be to the definitive Chicago beef sandwich. The sliced beef was plentiful, but not that tasty on its own. The "gravy" was thin, more like juices than anything thickened, and flavored with dried thyme and oregano. What made this humble beginning sing was the spicy hot giardiniera. The oil itself was spicy, and the veggies were chopped into small bits and stayed crunchy, so much so that they didn't seem processed/cooked to me. If this is the difference that sport peppers make, bring 'em on

The Chicago Hot Dog ***

rworange: A very fresh, soft steamed poppy seed bun with mustard, held the tasty, smoky dog topped with startling neon green relish, finely chopped onions, a long slice of crunchy dill pickle, thin slices of tomato and sprinkled with celery salt. It was hot dog heaven.

Gumbah’s Cheese Steak ***

rworange: it is stuffed with beef and onions … soft, buttery, fried onions. The meat here has taste … a wonderful beefiness. The juices and butter soak into the fresh bun that is sturdy enough to absorb the juice and hold everything without falling apart. It is topped with the pickled red and green peppers … choice of hot or sweet.

JojoA: I also asked about the "anomaly" of a Philly Cheese steak on the menu and their statement "As our Italian Beef is to Chicago, our Cheese steak is to Philadelphia" - Buddy mentioned about the lousy versions out here in this area and that if he was going to do it, he was going to do it right. Thus, he personally went out to Philly and arranged to visit various cheese steak places to learn the "craft".

Gumbah’s New Pastrami Sandwich ***

JojoA; The pastrami was very good (best I've had since I can't remember when), the bun light and airy, and there was just enough hot mustard to enhance rather than overpower … the pickle had a good crunch to it and a nice know, like a good pickle should.

Polish Sausage ***

Melanie Wong” Served Chicago hot dog style with “The Works”, a Vienna Beef hickory smoked Polish is cradled on a steamed poppy seed bun and garnished with mustard, relish, chopped onions, a quarter spear of dill pickle, two slices of Roma tomato, celery salt, and two whole sport peppers. While I was a little disappointed that the relish was not the infamous fluorescent green, everything tasted just fine. The sausage was not fatty yet still moist and had a slight sweet edge to the cure.

Fries Fries Fries ***

JojoA: The fries were really great - extra crispy with a great, rough-hewn texture that both looked good to the eye and felt good in the mouth.

Melanie Wong: I also tried a small order of fries … which were as good as promised. They’re slim cut and lightly battered so they fry up golden and delicately crackly.

Razordog the french fries are good, they're thin and crisp, a little bit skinnier than mcdonalds fries, i had the parmesean fries which was just fries with the parmesean cheese from that green can, so i was a little disappointed and i've also tried the cajun fries which are fries with some cajun seasoning sprinkled over them

rworange: Skinny like match stick potatoes, they had that mashed potato soft interior like Popeye’s fries and no garlic flavor … at first. Then the garlic kicked in. Little pieces of garlic clung to each piece and they were gloriously garlicky. One of the few fries I’ve had in a long time that was worth the calories.

Chicago Pizza – Thin Crust ***

razordog the pizza i got at gumbah's h ad a very thin crust, thinner than NY style, the thickness of the crust was maybe about two tortillas, and the cheese went all the way out ot the edge of the pizza

i really liked it, the crust had a saltine cracker like feel because it was so crispy, it stood up to the sauce and cheese and wasn't soggy at all, and there was a nice amount of sauce to cheese (it may have had a tad bit too much cheese - but i didn't mind), i just wish there was more sausage on it

DJ Mark 7: Aren't the pizzas good? After downing a sandwich there a while back I took home one of the frozen pizzas an made it that night....excellent


Gumbah's - Gut-Enhancing Grub

Gumbah's Authentic in Vallejo Italian Beef

Chicago Polish @ Gumbah’s (Vallejo

chicago style thin crust pizza at gumbah's, vallejo

136 Tennessee St
Vallejo, CA
(707) 648-1100

Monday – Saturday: 11:00 am - 2:30 pm


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. man you guys are making me hungry once again, this is very hypothetical, and i know a stupid question, but does the BART run through vallegjo, and can walk from there to Gumbah's, (that is if the track and stop actually exists). thanks. not much chitown food in la either.

    13 Replies
    1. re: kevin

      BART doesn't stretch to Solano County. But you can take the Ferry from SF to Vallejo, and Gumbah's is 0.6 miles from the Ferry terminal as shown below.

      I wanted to note that when I had the Vienna Beef Polish at Gumbah's I picked that over the hot dog because the dog was skinless and the Polish had a natural casing. Now that the relish is startingly green, has Buddy been able to get his hands on hot dogs with snap too?


      1. re: Melanie Wong

        No, no snap, but it was really good and full of flavor.

        I was going to suggest the ferry too. It's a nice walk along the waterfront and there might even be buses.

        Just dont forget the hours are 11 am - 2:30 pm Monday thru Saturday.

        Speaking of that route, it seems Bella Luna, the Italian Brazillian place may be out of business. The windows looked papered over.

        Hmmm ... maybe I can make some extra money selling Gumbahs food out of the back of my car at farmers markets ... Chicago on wheels.

        1. re: rworange

          "Full of flavor" describes everything I've had at Gumbah's --- really makes the calories worthwhile. Now, have the hours changed? The sign used to say that the closing time was 2:20pm, not 2:30pm.

          1. re: Melanie Wong

            I guess in addition to adding the real Chicago hot dog relish they've expanded their hours by 10 miutes. The printed menu I have says 2:30.

            1. re: rworange

              I wish they'd expand their operating hours by more than 10 minutes per day myself :)

              Anyway, thanks for pulling all that information together - it seems Gumbah's is reported on about roughly once a year and it's remained solidly and consistently worthwhile.

              1. re: JojoA

                one more quest, i have tried an outpost of the fast-food joint Portello's (which serves Italian beef, Chicago dogs, Polish dogs, the gieardinian pepper spread, and huge wedges of chocolate cake) in the LA area, which has most of it's locations in Illiinois, has anyone tried it, and how does it compare to Gumbah's if you have tried both???

                1. re: kevin

                  As an ex-Chicagoan, I like Portillo's dogs and beef. I think all except the LA one (thanks for the news!) are in the Chicago area. It's quite an operation they have. I don't get around to Vallejo much, but thse posts remind me that I need to do "tasting" trip to Gumbah's. The last good Chicago-style hot dog I had in the bay area was ChiDog in Santa Clara, but they closed a few years ago. I thought the owner was going to reopen somewhere else. There are 2 places here in San Mateo that offer Chicago-style dogs (Windy City, Pizz'a Chicago) but I'm not impressed with either of them.

                  1. re: Wolfysm

                    As another ex-pat Chicagoan, I'll think you'll like Gumbah's. I grew up about 2 miles from the original Portillo's dog shack on North Ave. Saturday afternoons we used to take advantage of his 5 for a dollar deal.

                    I like pretty much all of his Chicago items, my only point of dissension is his sausages. I prefer them grilled and crunchy on the end, he uses links that just don't do that. Petty? yeah but it's my sandwich...

        2. re: Melanie Wong

          Melanie's right - if you don't mind the 0.6 mile walk, you could go all the way to the Vallejo ferry terminal on the Route 80 Vallejo Transit/Baylink bus and walk to Gumbah's. The fare on the Route 80 bus is $3.75 each way.

          The ferry's an option as well if you can get to the Ferry Building. You can get a day pass ($17) at the Ferry Building at the Bay Crossings shop (it's the one with all the maps and stuff in front of it right by the main entrance.) They do have bus service that alternates with the ferry that goes from the SF Ferry Building to the Vallejo Ferry Terminal; however, the day pass doesn't work on that (it's $10 each way.)

          It's a fairly nice walk along the Mare Island waterfront along Mare Island Way over to Tennessee and there are no real sketchy neighborhoods you'd have to traverse.

          I've linked the Vallejo Ferry site below if you want to look into that option.


          1. re: JojoA

            Whoops...forgot to mention that the Route 80 bus is if you decide to take BART - you'd ride BART up to the El Cerrito Del Norte station and then catch Route 80 from there (the bus stop is on the outer island outside the station.)

            1. re: JojoA

              hey jojoa and melanie, so i can just take the ferry from ferry plaza at embarcadero area, take that all the way to vallejo and then walk from there a little over half mile, sounds great if that's correct, i definitely wouldn't mind that walk. actually it would be beneficial since i'll probably eating grease with more grease. ferry ride it will most likely be, i'll pass on the bart plus three bus transfers method.

        3. re: kevin

          Unfortunately, it doesn't (and believe me, since I commute to SF from this area, I wish it did.)

          The closest you can do transit-wise is BART up to El Cerrito Del Norte, catch a Vallejo Transit/Baylink bus (Route 80) into downtown, and then transfer to Route 8 (the clockwise Tennessee Street/Beverly Hills route) at the York & Marin transfer center. Once it turns on to Tennessee from Mare Island Way, you need to get off almost immediately (Gumbah's would be on the left hand side in a what looks to be a skinny two-story house.)

          This all-told would be a fairly expensive round-trip in terms of transit fares (you're looking at at least $20 depending where you're coming from.) It's a heckuva lot easier (and cheaper) IMHO just to drive there.

          1. re: JojoA

            i'll have to make a note of that if i ever move back down there.

        4. I went there yesterday and they have CLOSED! If you call there is no answer and then the phone just stops ringing. I know Buddy recently sold the place to someone and I am hoping they are just remodeling but I'm worried that Gumba's might be gone for good. There is no sign saying what's going on and by looking in the window you can see that the place is in disarray with stuff either moved around or removed.

          If they do close, it will be a real shame as I absolutley loved this place. As a native Chicagoan who lives in Vallejo, this place has been the real thing when it comes to getting some real Chicago eats.

          5 Replies
          1. re: joel W

            Unfortunately it is closed for good. I went up there to double check and asked at the nearby pizza place (which is very good). They didn't know what happened but confirmed its been closed for months ... sob.

            1. re: rworange

              That is so sad. Napoli is the Pizza place you refer to but they don't have the sandwiches and those tasty crispy crunchy fries that Gumba's had. I wonder what happened. I talked to Buddy when he was trying to sell it and I remember him saying something to the effect that he would only sell to someone who would keep it open and not change the menu.

              So much for that................

              1. re: joel W

                I'm honestly sad right now after reading this lol

                1. re: DJ Mark 7

                  Well folks, I am happy to announce that rworange was incorrect in stating that Gumba's was closed for good. It was, in fact, just a long remodeling/changing of the guard kind of thing. They are back in business and the menu hasn't changed at all. It certainly looks different though since they got rid of almost all of the cool Chicago paraphernalia that hung everywhere including a WXRT t-shirt I gave to Buddy years ago. The food tastes exactly the same though and I recognized the same woman who has been making my sandwiches for years so there is no need to worry about the quality. She even remembered how I like my sando.......extra sport peppers and giardiniera on the side.

                  1. re: joel W

                    Me too. Thanks for the update.There was a report a while back about them reopening. I haven't been able to get over there yet though. They were going to change the name though.

                    Gumbah's Italian Beef (see West Side Cafe)
                    138 Tennessee St, Vallejo, CA 94590