On the outskirts of the Civic Center district lies San Francisco’s favorite breakfast and brunch hole-in-the-wall, Brenda’s French Soul Food.  On any given day Brenda’s produces a line of adoring patrons around the block, waiting in anticipation among the smells of buttery Cajun shrimp and grits with salty warm biscuits.  ConsPicture 5idering this gem is among the Top 5 Bold Newcomers from the New York Times and one of Travel & Leisure’s Top 50 US Restaurants of 2009, the hour wait is no surprise.

Since 2007, Brenda Buenviaje has charmed the city with her closet-sized open kitchen, a total of seven tables, and an old-fashioned diner-style counter.  Her New Orleans fare never rises above $10 and the portions are served with a heavy hand and plenty of love. And that’s exactly what you’ll get here, along with the best beignets west of France (try the Godiva chocolate or paprika crawfish).  Wash it all down with Brenda’s special watermelon sweet tea and you’d swear you’re in the French Quarter.

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