Brenda’s French Soul Food Restaurant in San Francisco

Beignets at Brenda’s

Review of Brenda’s French Soul Food Restaurant

Brenda’s French Soul Food has a big reputation for serving up hearty southern specialties to huge crowds of weekend brunchers. Still, it’s unassuming and unpretentious, located in the Tenderloin alongside storefronts with bars over the windows. Brenda’s was a very pleasant surprise to find in a neighborhood not known for its culinary delights, especially on a Sunday night, when the sidewalks roll up early in this part of town. The streets were deserted and there didn’t seem to be much else around. And then we opened the door and the world went from black-and-white to color.

It was like walking through the wardrobe into Narnia when I saw the chalkboard with the daily specials: breakfast for dinner. That’s always a special treat, but brunch here without the hours of waiting? How can you not love that? And then, as we were seated, a three piece band started up, performing lively jazz tunes just feet away. I didn’t think it could get any better, but then we got our food.

Offering a unique menu of breakfast dishes fused with dinner foods (and beignets!), all in the style of the Deep South, Brenda’s is truly a gem.

While I’m not sure I can recommend it for brunch, because the wait can be hours, I can certainly recommend checking it out on a Sunday evening and enjoying some of the brunch items without the wait and with some great music.

The Location

The location of Brenda’s French Soul Food Restaurant is its least great attribute, though I’m grateful it was there where I needed food and not much else was around. The restaurant does not have a great location, a short walk from the Civic Center are on the edge of Tenderloin, which can be sketchy.

Address:652 Polk Street

San Francisco, CA 94102

Phone: (415) 345-8100 

Map showing location of Brendas French Soul Food

Map showing location of Brenda’s French Soul Food

Opening Hours

Monday and Tuesday: 8 am to 3 pm

Wednesday through Saturday: 8 am to 10 pm

Sunday: 8 am to 8 pm

They do not take reservations.

The Ambiance

During dinner, Brenda’s French Soul Food Restaurant comes alive with the magical ambiance of the three-piece jazz band, making us to feel like we just stepped into (a much less humid version of) the bayou. The music was really enjoyable and set a great tone for the meal. The décor was minimally New Orleans themed, with the flatware in Café du Monde coffee cans and the small tables and chairs make me feel like I’m in a French café.

A huge [ad] painted on the concrete wall, with a giant crack down the wall – it felt very San Francisco, like “Yeah, we have earthquakes and we don’t even care.” The place has soul.

The Service

We were seated quickly and our waitress was a bit soft-spoken but friendly and quick. Service was fine but forgettable.

The Price

The price for entrees at Brenda’s were really reasonable at under $15 each for big portions. Beignets run about $6 for a flight of 3. Overall, a really good value for the price.

The Food

Eggs Benedict with a side of cheese grits

Eggs Benedict with a side of cheese grits

I’ll start off by mentioning that I love southern food and am always searching for some good spots around the Bay Area to get my fix. While there are some pretty good barbecue joints, soul food can be tough to do right, but I think Brenda’s has it down.

I ordered the pulled pork eggs Benedict, which was served on a biscuit and topped with chopped green onions. The pork was tender and flavorful, doused in a slightly sweet barbecue sauce.

The sauce on the eggs was very different from a traditional hollandaise, so much that I wondered if it was maybe gravy instead. When I asked what type of sauce it was and was surprised to learn it was the house-made hollandaise, flavored with spice, and a little smoky. There were some great contrasting flavors, and it was delicious overall, but a little heavy.

The benedict was plenty on its own, but it was served with an enormous side of cheese grits, which were very cheesy and very tasty. I tried the gumbo, too, and it was an explosion of flavors and very hearty.

Pork belly cheese grits

Pork belly cheese grits

I also got to sample another daily special, the pork belly over cheese grits, which was rich and delicious but would have been too heavy for me if I’d ordered it myself.

We finished with a shared order of plain beignets, although now I wish we’d tried the chocolate filled ones. They were good, though not quite as melt-in-your-mouth amazing as I remember the real deal from Café du Monde to have been.

There are so many items on the menu that I want to try here: Mac ‘n’ Cheese, ribs, fried chicken, their drinks (watermelon tea? Yes, please.), and maybe even the crawfish beignets (even though they’re more or less the insects of the sea).

Website : http://frenchsoulfood.com/

Phone : +1 415-345-8100

Nearby Tourist Attractions–  Golden Gate Park, War Memorial Opera House

Published On: Wednesday, March 8th, 2017