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Jan 24, 2014 01:51 PM

Gumbo in SF or east bay?

I can't find any current discussions about soul food in the SF or east bay.

Does anyone have recommendations for soul food restaurants, esp ones that regularly serve gumbo (probably all soul food restaurants serve gumbo)?

Thanks for any tips!

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    1. re: Robert Lauriston

      Robert -

      Thanks for the link!

      Many of the strings are a few years old, but NOLA .... Kitchen in Concord looks promising.

    2. More NOLA than soul food, but Queens on San Bruno Ave has excellent gumbo.

      7 Replies
      1. re: Civil Bear

        It seems that whenever I ask a question on chowhound I learn that I didn't ask my question well. This time is no exception.

        I admit that I don't understand the differences between 'soul food', 'NOLA' (is that "New Orleans LA food"?), etc.

        I took a look at your link and reviews of it, and now I need to go there!

        Thanks very much for the reply.

        1. re: SimSportPlyr

          I suppose New Orleans food could be thought of as soul food specific to that region (gumbo, jambalaya, red beans & rice, beignets, etc.).

        2. re: Civil Bear

          Queens is highly recommended for an excellent gumbo (as well as Po Boys, Abita beer, ...

          Farmer Brown does good soul food (cat fish!) and a fine gumbo also.

          1. re: Thomas Nash

            I read up on Queen's just now, and it appears to have great gumbo.

            I googled and found a couple Farmer Brown's: Mason St and Rich St. Do you recommend both?


            1. re: SimSportPlyr

              Mason is the main restaurant I was thinking of. A small fried chicken and waffles take out is a branch called Little Skillet on Rich St.

        3. Gumbo, red beans and rice, beignets, etc., all would have been classified as "Creole Food" when I was growing up and living in New Orleans in the 50's 60's and in to the 70's. The cuisine crossed color lines, with haute Creole at places like Galiatiore's and Dooky Chase and many great down home neighborhood establishments like Buster Holmes (on Burgundy), and Wise Cafeteria. The cooks in most restaurants (and many homes), regardless of the color of the diners, were African Americans and their influence was felt throughout, along with Spanish, French and even Italian influence in varying proportions. Some places were more soulful than others, but I don't recall encountering anything called "soul food" until I travelled to other parts of the South and Midwest and to urban centers in other parts of the country. There was little bar-b-q and no shrimp and grits or fried green tomatoes in NOLA in those days, and Cajun food, a country cousin to Creole, was hard to find until the arrival of K-Paul in the mid 70's. The now famous Willie Mae's serves soul food, but she was from Mississippi! Not sure what qualifies as "NOLA food" these days, what with the growing culinary influence of the local Vietnamese community, and the influx of Mexicans, Central Americans and hipsters adding to the post Katrina "gumbo". The melting pot lives on!

          5 Replies
          1. re: gumbolox

            gumbolox, thanks for the history lesson. Very interesting!

            I'm a late-comer to this type of food, as you can probably tell.

            I've had some Southern/comfort/soul food in the past and liked it, but I had gumbo for the first time a couple months ago on Florida, and it was heavenly! The broth was very dark, darker, I think, than called for in many gumbo recipes I've found online.

            I've made gumbo a couple times in the past two months, once using Zatarain's mix, and I had good results, but not close to the amazing experience I had in Florida.

            1. re: SimSportPlyr

              Gumbo recipes often start with a very dark roux.

              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                Robert, I'm sure you're right, since you know a lot more about this than I do.

                I've read some gumbo recipes that recommend using a roux that is the color of a penny. I'm not sure whether penny-color is what you mean by 'dark'.

                The gumbo I had in FL was much darker than that. Maybe this gumbo used a darker-than-typical roux, but I don't have enough experience to know. The FL gumbo I had was certainly much darker than my gumbo when I used Zatarain's mix, in case you happen to be familiar with that mix/color.

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    Robert, that's interesting reading. Thanks.

          2. I ordered in from Red Crawfish a couple of months ago and their gumbo was awful. I didn't have high expectations but it was one of the worst I've had.

            1 Reply
            1. re: OliverB

              OliverB, thanks for the warning. It appears that there are better options.

              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                Robert, great suggestion. I'll give Angeline's a try! Thanks.

                1. re: SimSportPlyr

                  Angeline's gumbo is pretty good, but Queens is better, IMO. Queens also has the very dark roux you are looking for.