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All About Mumbo® Sauce (Mambo Sauce in DC)

Mumbo sauce. It’s one of my favorite sauces from Washington, D.C. It has been a staple in my life and the local culinary scene for decades. The tangy, sweet, and slightly spicy sauce has an unmatched flavor that I’m sure you’ll fall in love with. It’s the perfect spicy sauce recipe for chicken! So, let me take you around all about Mumbo sauce. From origins to ingredients, as well as sauce recipes you can use. I’ll show you everything there is to love about this sauce!

💡 Origins of Mumbo sauce

Mumbo® sauce, also known as mambo sauce, is a sweet, spicy, and slightly sour ketchup-based sauce from Washington DC. Some people also claim that the mumbo® sauce is from Chicago, as a Chicago-based company actually retains the copyright for the name. With this, both cities’ inhabitants claim its heritage, though it’s markedly more popular in local restaurants throughout the District.

The sauce has been referenced in various songs, including “Mumbo Sauce” by Chicago rapper, Joey Purp. The song pays tribute to the sauce and its significance in African American culture. Even the mural “Mumbo Sauce” by artist Aniekan Udofia in Washington D.C. depicts the sauce as a symbol of the city’s culture and history.

📌 Popular Uses for Mumbo Sauce

In DC, the sauce is typically eaten with fried chicken wings and French fries, but in recent decades, it’s become increasingly popular to put it on fried rice and all things deep-fried. It’s also a popular choice for drizzling over sandwiches, burgers, and other grilled meats, thanks to its sweet and tangy flavor. Some people even use it as a marinade or as a sauce for pork chops and chicken. McDonald’s sauces even feature their own mumbo sauce version, and it’s delicious.

Best Mambo Sauce in DC

Capital City Mambo Sauce: They are known for their signature sweet and tangy sauce, which is available both in stores and at its Northeast DC location.

Wings ‘N’ More Wings: Southeast DC spot famed for crispy wings paired with authentic mambo sauce.

Caribbean Citations: Northwest DC eatery serves flavorful Caribbean cuisine, including its own rendition of mambo sauce.

HalfSmoke: Trendy Shaw neighborhood restaurant offers a modern twist on classic DC fare, featuring creative mambo sauce-infused dishes.

Ben’s Chili Bowl: This iconic DC establishment boasts mambo sauce as one of its condiments alongside its famous half-smokes and other dishes.

🤷 Availability of Mumbo Sauce

Most of the restaurants which serve mambo sauce in DC will be along Georgia Avenue, a very long street which extends from Wheaton, Maryland to downtown Washington D.C. just a mile short of the White House. There are even a couple of popular mumbo sauce brands from DC, including black-owned Capitol City Mumbo Sauce, whose ‘Hot ‘n’ Spicy’ flavor reminds me of a sweet chili sauce from Popeyes sauces.

What’s your favorite thing to put mumbo® sauce on?

🧑‍🍳 Recipe and Variations

Basic Ingredients

Most mumbo® sauce recipes include a combination of ketchup, hot sauce, spices, vinegar, and sugar. The result of varying ratios of these ingredients in each restaurant’s “secret recipe” is that every mambo sauce will taste a bit different, with some being more sour, more sweet, or more hot than others. You can even put a twist on the traditional recipe with a different type of hot sauce, like harissa or a gochujang. If you don’t have either, you can substitute harissa sauce with chili paste and substitute gochujang with miso paste.

Regional Differences

Knowing all about mambo sauce means understanding the different regional versions. There are variations of Mumbo sauce found in other parts of the country. For example, in Chicago, Mumbo sauce is often made with barbecue sauce instead of ketchup, giving it a smokier flavor. Some prefer a sweeter sauce, while others prefer a more tangy and spicy flavor. But knowing how to make sauce less spicy can help you balance this out. Just experiment and find the perfect balance for your taste buds.


What is the origin of Mumbo sauce?

Mumbo sauce is a condiment that originated in Washington, D.C., in the 1950s. The sauce was created by Argia B. Collins, who owned a chicken restaurant in the city. The original recipe was a mix of ketchup, vinegar, sugar, and spices. Over the years, different chefs and restaurants have modified and adapted the recipe.

What are some popular dishes that use Mumbo sauce?

It’s commonly used as a dipping sauce for chicken wings, fried chicken, and French fries. It can also be used as a glaze for grilled meats, such as pork chops and ribs. Some people even use it as a salad dressing or a marinade for seafood.

Where can I find authentic Mumbo sauce?

Authentic Mumbo sauce can be found in many restaurants and carryout places in Washington D.C. and the surrounding areas. Some popular places that serve Mumbo sauce include Horace & Dickie’s Seafood, Wings N’ More, and Carolina Kitchen. You can also find Mumbo sauce for sale online or in specialty stores.

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