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Brenda's French Soul Food

652 Polk St, San Francisco, CA 94102
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Member Reviews (36)Write a review

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  • Brenda's French Soul FoodPro 2014
    ShowShanti
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    5 Dec 28, 2013

    If you're on some healthy kick or have always had an aversion to doughnuts, do not come here. But if you do like comfort food and want it prepared ten notches above a greasy spoon diner then ensconced in a bustling Tenderloin space with caring service, do come here. Come here to indulge and celebrate the day before. The beignets are the draw — order a flight. The crispy pork belly atop a dish of cheesy grits with a poached egg is something to consider seriously. Buttermilk biscuits are moist inside and crusty outside. Pair it all with a guava mimosa or chicory coffee. You'll come back again so no need to kill yourself at first visit.

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  • Brenda's French Soul Food
    Connie Pistilli
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    5 Sep 04, 2013

    I just LOVE Brenda's beignets and po'boys so much! The beignets are TO DIE FOR. We ordered the beignet flight, which consisted of 1 of each of the following: Plain, Filled with molten Ghirardelli chocolate, Granny Smith Apple with cinnamon honey butter and Crawfish with cayenne, scallions and cheddar. All 4 for $8. We ate them in that order, starting with the crawfish beignet. It was the most amazing beignet I had ever eaten. Ever. I'd never even had a savory beignet before, and I wasn't sure if I'd like it, but it was absolutely the most scrumptious thing. My next favorite was the apple beignet. Oh, that thing was better than any apple pie I'd ever had. Surprisingly, the chocolate one was only ok for me. I'm so glad we ordered the sampler, because I would've gone straight for the chocolate one. The plain, was, well, plain, but still very good!

    My fried shrimp po'boy sandwich was huge. But I managed to finish almost all of it because it was so tasty! The fries it came with were also very crisp and delicious. I asked for a side of pesto buttermilk dressing to dip the fries in - a must!

    Don't forget to get some freshly made watermelon iced tea. It is so refreshing!

    Luckily, we didn't have to wait at all for a table in this tiny little place, where Brenda is in plain sight cooking in the kitchen. It's a tight squeeze, so make sure you don't wear any low-rider jeans if you happen to sit at the counter.

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  • Brenda's French Soul FoodCommunity ManagerAmbassadorPro 2014
    Keane
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    5 Jul 05, 2012

    I visited Brenda's shortly after returning from New Orleans, so I can vouch for the authenticity of the food here. The restaurant is small and there's often a line, so brunch lovers should come expecting a wait. The food is very tasty and definitely worth the slightly higher prices.

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  • Brenda's French Soul FoodAmbassadorPro 2014
    Kat Sun
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    5 Nov 09, 2013

    My taste buds were blown away! My friend and I ordered the watermelon sweet tea, crawfish beignets, and the hangtown fry. The tea was so refreshing. The crawfish beignets were big; I thought they were a bit too spicy for my taste but still delicious. I didn't know what crispy oysters were and was amazed! They were breaded and crunchy, cool! It was amazing. Definitely get the grits and biscuit! Best grits I've had so far and the biscuit was crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside.

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  • Brenda's French Soul FoodPro 2014
    Trina D.
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    5 Oct 03, 2012

    My cousin, Vanessa D., was adamant about eating at Brenda's French Soul Food upon our arrival in San Francisco and I now know why. Brenda serves up some DELICIOUS food. This was one of the best places we ever ate at during our trip.

    We ordered the beignet flight (plain, apple, chocolate, & crawfish) and the grillades & grits (Beef cutlets braised in spicy creole gravy, served with grits & two eggs any style, plus cream biscuit). The beignets were so good. I preferred the sweet ones to the savory one and my favorite was the apple. The chocolate beignet was made with Ghirardelli chocolate making it rich and decadent. The grillades & grits were amazing. The creole gravy had a spicy kick to it and the biscuit was super flaky and melt-in-your-mouth good. It was the BEST biscuit I've ever had! The biscuits are like biting into fluffy clouds of joy. We also tried the sweet watermelon house tea which was so refreshing; it had bits of cucumber and melon in it too.

    We were there on a Friday morning and the place was packed. Brenda's is a small restaurant but they are expanding so even though there was construction happening next door, the restaurant was still full to capacity which is a testament to the food and its popularity.

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  • Brenda's French Soul FoodAmbassadorPro 2014
    michere
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    5 Jan 16, 2014

    Crawfish beignets and shrimp and grits! Nuff said!

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  • Brenda's French Soul Food
    Lisa Markuson
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    5 Aug 26, 2013

    This is the only thing I will wait in line to eat.

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  • Brenda's French Soul Food
    David Bloxsom
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    5 Mar 25, 2014
    Recommended for:FoodiesLocal Culture
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  • Brenda's French Soul Food
    Tiffany Cheung
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    5 Jul 22, 2014

    My boyfriend's sister took us to a brunch place close by to Parc 55 Hotel in San Francisco on Superbowl Sunday. This place is quite small, and there is really no parking in front of it, but you can't miss it since there's usually a bunch of people standing outside of the restaurant. Even though we came at around 11 to 12ish, we still had to wait for about ten minutes. They have a cool chalkboard where you write your name on it. Unfortunately, they only seat you when your entire party is present, and with the parking situation, that's a little difficult.

    It's a very nice place that really reflects on the French soul food that Brenda's serves. Lots of nice decorations, and though it's small, it's very high in the ceiling (from what I remember), which gives it a lot of air space, if that makes sense. It wasn't too crowded or anything.

    Our table ordered Catfish Po' Boy, Pulled Pork Eggs Benedict, Crispy Pork Belly, French Toast with the additional butter pecan sauce, and Shrimp and Grits I believe. On top of that, we ordered a Beignet Flight for the entire table to share. My boyfriend ordered the sweet watermelon house tea, and I believe his sisters ordered lattes. The waitresses seemed to be very busy as the tables were all full. They weren't mean, but they weren't overly friendly either; however, I did understand that they were very busy, and the food did make up for it.

    The watermelon tea was very good. There's bits of watermelon in there, and it tastes really refreshing. With the added refills, I do believe this tea is worth the $2.75. The Beignet Flight was pretty darn amazing. Four different beignets (one of basically each one they have): one is a plain one, one filled with molten Ghirardelli chocolate, another with Granny smith apples that have been sweetened with cinnamon honey butter, and the last is the savory one with crawfish that has been spiced with cayenne, scallions and cheddar. I have to say that out of the three (I didn't try the plain one), I liked the granny smith one the best. Full of flavor and I could taste the cinnamon honey butter. I loved the powdered sugar on top. Basically tastes like a very sweet doughnut. I didn't care too much for the savory one. It was good, but I think I prefer the beignets to be sweet.

    And then the food! I was already a little full from the beignets, but I had to make room for the Catfish Po' Boy. I think this dish knocked it out of the park for me. I really liked it. I am typically a fan of sandwiches, so I really liked the concept of this dish. Soul food with a little twist. The dish was filled with fries and the sandwich was pretty big. I ended up eating only half. The fish was good, and so was the sauce and the baguette it was served on. I had to smear the sauce onto the bread so there would be more taste for the entire sandwich. They also give you pickled watermelon on the side. Not sure what that was for, but ate it as a refresher. I liked the sandwich a lot. Worth the money and tasted great. I tried my boyfriend's pulled pork eggs benedict. His dish was filled with food, too. It comes with grits or hash, and he got the potatoes, which weren't that great. But he raved about the biscuits that the pulled pork eggs benedict were served on. As for the other dishes, everybody else really liked them.

    By the end of the meal, the restaurant was less packed, and the waitresses were more relaxed, and helped fill the drinks a few times. I wasn't a big fan of soul food, but this place really made me enjoy it! I didn't get to finish the Catfish Po' Boy, as I gave the leftovers to a homeless woman sitting outside, (very glad I just cut the sandwich with a knife thus not spreading any germs!) and I would like to hope that she enjoyed the food very much. Have to give it 5 stars as I don't usually eat this type of food, and they made it an A+ experience in my book.

    tl;dr: give this place a try! You won't be sorry. :) The food is pretty amazing.

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  • Brenda's French Soul FoodPro 2014
    Ryan Windsor (Reserve123)
    5 Jun 30, 2014

    If you don't mind waiting in line to eat some of the best food you will ever taste, there is nothing to complain about. This place is amazing!

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  • Brenda's French Soul FoodPro 2014
    hangry_cho
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    4 Apr 04, 2014

    This place never ceases to amaze me. There is always a line outside and rightfully so. Everything I've eaten here is LEGIT!!

    - Beignets Sampler - you can customize your own
    - Watermelon Ice Tea
    - Shrimp n Grits
    - Po Boy - we made ours half shrimp/half oyster!
    - Gumbo

    Overall, some dishes might be a little greasy, some dishes straight fried, but nonetheless AMAZINGLY GOOD. It's ain't soul food unless you have both :)

    TIP: Parking can majorly suck

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  • Brenda's French Soul FoodPro 2014
    Owie
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    4 Mar 24, 2014

    Grits is what attracted me to Brenda's. I never tasted grits before and was anxiously excited to try it for the first time. What I ordered:

    - Beignet Flight : 1) Chocolate, with molten Ghirardelli chocolate
    2) Granny Smith Apple , with cinnamon honey butter
    3) Crawfish, with cayenne, scallions & cheddar
    4) Plain, traditional
    - Florentine Egg benedict on cream biscuits with creole hollandaise, and grits.

    - Hangtown Fry consisted of crispy oyster, bacon, scallion, scramble with hash, and biscuit.

    I am very pleased with my meal although the wait was ridiculously long that by the time I ordered my food I was not feeling as hungry as I was before. Overall, I am a fan of grits now! Thank you Brenda!

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  • Brenda's French Soul FoodPro 2014
    Mimosa Chloe
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    4 Jan 30, 2014

    Creative - fun- delicious, innovative. Done Right.
    Brenda's has it down. Open from breakfast to late night dining - they know their stuff.
    Chicken etouffee - moist, rice-y...hearty and filling.
    Sweet potato dumplings and Garlic Shrimp Gratin - creative use of familiar ingredients - it works!
    BFC - Fried Chicken - to die for. Moist, well fried, and collard greens to boot.
    Treat yourself to mixed Beignets - apple, plain, and chocolate.
    Take the in-laws - this place is FTW.

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  • Brenda's French Soul FoodPro 2014
    Alice Ly
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    2 Jan 10, 2014

    I wish I had a better experience as this was my last meal before leaving SF to go back home.

    We didnt wait very long as there were 2 counter seats that we took.

    Ordered the Beignet Flight, which came with a Plain Beignet, Chocolate Beignet, Apple Beignet, and Crawfish.

    As mains, I ordered the Andouille Sausage Omelette w/Hash + Biscuit and my bf got the French Toast.

    Now for beignets, I always thought they were supposed to be soft. At least that's what I had before in another southern restaraunt. But the ones I had here were tough, chewy, and dry. Disappointing.

    My main wasn't anything to write home about either as the Hash was mushy, and the biscuit crumbled to the touch. The sausage bits were good, but there weren't very many in the omelette.

    My bf said his French Toast was burnt, and that the brioche was stiff as well.

    Meh. :(

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  • Brenda's French Soul FoodPro 2014
    Susan Lee
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    4 Jul 29, 2013

    Brenda's doesn't take reservations, so try to get there earlier. We got there around 6 and didn't have to wait at all. The crawfish beignet is salty, spicy, and flavorful. It's a good portion, so 1 is enough for 2 people to share. The broiled oysters are also huge with 3 or 4 oysters in each serving. I liked the Orleans style more than the Tchoupitoulas style. I would highly recommend trying the chicken, sausage, and okra gumbo. It's really tasty and not overly salty like i thought it would be. In terms of the entrees, the shrimp and grits was good, but had too much cheese for me. I did like the grits though. I would go with the fried chicken instead. It comes with 1 of Brenda's famous biscuits (huge, buttery, and oh so good!). The chicken itself was also tasty. The staff is attentive and friendly.

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  • Brenda's French Soul Food
    Ling Huynh
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    5 Apr 18, 2013

    Been here a few more times after my original review. I know!! In such a short span. I really need to branch out in my foodie adventures, but the last few times in the city, shrimp and grits is all I've craved!!

    This last time, my fellow foodie friend and I arrived a little after 3PM. WAY after the crazy brunch rush and scored a parking spot right in front AND no wait to be seated! SCORE!

    However, they had an in between menu from 3PM-5PM, no specials. BUT they still had shrimp and grits. Hollaaaaa :) So, between the two of us, we ordered: Shrimp and grits, their shrimp po'boy sandwich with extra grits, the beignet platter, and their cornbread. Nomnomerz! We pretty much devoured most of the food. I know, us girls work hard, work out harder, but can still pack the heat out side the kitchen and into our food lovin' bellies. And with satisfied bellies we did. Oh, and the watermelon ice tea was also very refreshing. Not too sweet, just the way I like it!

    I must say, coming here without the rush definitely made the beignets taste so much better! I think it's cause they had more time to make these little suckers, but oh man, they were SO freakin' yummy this time around! My favorite is still the chocolate with the original and apple close contenders. The crawfish is still really good, but something with me and the idea of beignets as dessert turned into something savory has never been something that made my mouth water. Still good though don't get me wrong!

    But for now Brenda's, I bid you adieu as there are other SF establishments that require my taste bud a'tasting services.

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  • Brenda's French Soul Food
    Karen Le
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    5 Feb 28, 2013

    One of my favorite brunch spots in the city. I've been back several times and each time I leave full and satisfied. A lot of people are fans of their grits and although I'm not a fan of any grits in general, I do highly recommend it. It's actually one that I would eat because it didn't taste plain and boring like most grits. I always get one of the Benedicts such as the cat fish or the fried chicken. Both the cat fish and fried chicken are lightly fried, yet really crispy and they come out on a fluffy biscuit. I could just sit there and dip the biscuit in gravy all day and I'd be a happy camper! Even with the big portions, when we go in a group we're still greedy heffers where we have to order a beignet flight or pancakes! The crawfish beignets are to die for! Those are the items you have to order if you make a stop in. I've had the omelettes but they didn't stand out like any of the above previously mentioned. Good thing is they're opened pretty much all day so any time is a good time for breakfast!

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  • Brenda's French Soul Food
    Lisa Kamei
    4 Jan 07, 2013

    Warning: Brenda's serve Brunch menu til 3pm and starts serving dinner menu at 5pm. I didn't know this information beforehand so my review is solely based on their brunch menu.

    I've always wanted to go to Brenda's ever since I saw a friend of mine post some food pics from Brenda's on fb. Then I looked up Brenda's on yelp and I was in shock! Almost 3000 reviews and Brenda's had solid 4 stars! Last but not least, it was SOUL FOOD. With all that in mind, Brenda's easily became one of my must go location.

    After waiting for about a year, I finally made a trip to norcal to visit my college roomie and she was kind enough to take me to Brenda's. I was so stoked! Once we got there, we waited for about 25 mins for party of four. I was expecting to try some of their dinner platter but was bummed out when I realized they were only serving brunch menu when we were there. That's the reason for -1 star.

    Anyway, I ended up order a cup of gumbo, shrimp & grits, and crawfish beignet. My favorite dish was definitelyyy the crawfish beignet! Ohmygod, it's so good. It's a savory beignet with oozing cheese inside with some scallions and little bits of crawfish. The beignet has dusted paprika seasoning around the surface and it enhanced the flavor. I think I would easily eat 2 beignets next time hah

    Shrimp & grits was also great! It gets heavy towards the end of the meal because of all the cheese but flavor wise it's so good. It was my first time trying grits but it wasn't bad at all! Think of porridge but the grit is a lot smaller than a rice grain so you can hardly taste the mushyness. Oh and the shrimp in the gritz is so good! It's seasoned well that I wish I can order a plate of their seasoned shrimp separately.

    Gumbo had bits of okra and andouille sausage so it was tasty. Brenda's Gumbo definitely tasted like traditional gumbo and it was like a comfort food to me. Nice warm soupy-rice dish with good flavoring can never go wrong!

    All in all, I was satisfied with my trip to Brenda's but next time I'll go during their dinner menu. :)

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  • Brenda's French Soul Food
    Roy Chi
    5 Jan 04, 2013

    Brenda's is my go-to spot for a delicious rampage on my arteries. It's good old-fashioned soul food with a welcome twist that will leave wonderful impressions on your tastebuds. The wait is long for weekend brunch, but the food is definitely worth it.

    I've had Brenda's countless times and every dish is as good as it sounds. My personal favorite is the fried catfish eggs benedict, which is heavier than anything you've ever had, but packs so much buttery fried goodness that you completely forget that you're essentially swallowing sticks of butter and shots of oil into your bloodstream.

    The crawfish beignets are also not to be missed. Granted the beignets are not as light and crispy as beignets should be, but the cheesy crawfish interior is worth every decadent bite.

    Wash it all down with their unbelievably refreshing watermelon sweet tea and you have yourself a delicious brunch that will guarantee painful laziness for the rest of your Sunday, plopped on your couch with intermittent proclamations of "Why the hell did I eat that shit for brunch?!?" Enjoy!

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  • Brenda's French Soul FoodPro 2014
    Jenn B
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    5 Dec 18, 2012

    This is my favorite brunch place in the city, and with SF's ample options, this is a big deal. Get the crawfish beignets, shrimp and grits, and a watermelon iced tea! The biscuits are the best I've ever had, too. They don't take reservations, so be prepared to wait. Luckily, the expansion has cut down the wait time dramatically. I usually only go on the weekdays and only have to wait a few minutes, if at all.

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OverviewEdit

4.5 out of 5
36 members' reviews
1,842 people visited Brenda's French Soul Food
  • Price

    Moderate$$
  • Cuisine:

  • Open Hours:

    Mon–Tues: 8am–3pm. Wed–Sat: 8am–10pm. Sun: 8am–8pm
  • Phone:

    (415) 345-8100

Description

Crawfish beignets are just one of the many delights served up by Brenda in her tiny establishment.

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