Best Southern Eats in the Bay Area by Zagat

1300 on Fillmore; photo by Kevin Bond

With hearty ingredients and bold flavors, grub from the Southern U.S. doesn’t mess around when it comes to satisfying appetites. Whether you’re looking for shrimp-stuffed po’ boys, or fried chicken like your mom used to make, read on for reviews and ratings from our Top Cajun/Creole/Soul list.

Brenda’s French Soul Food

652 Polk St.; 415-345-8100

Food: 24

Decor: 12

Service: 19

Cost: $20

“Take everyone’s word for it” – the “heavenly” Creole eats are “the real deal” at this “tiny” Civic Center “brunch mecca”, from “the most amazing grits outside the deep south” to “can’t-miss” po’ boys to “fat molten chocolate–filled beignets”; despite “quick” service, waits for one of the “back-to-back tables” can be “interminable”, but lovers say “lordy” it’s “so worth it”; P.S. closes at 3 PM.

Brown Sugar Kitchen

2534 Mandela Pkwy., Oakland; 510-839-7685

Food: 23

Decor: 18

Service: 19

Cost: $22

Whether “you’re from the South or not”, “you’ll leave whistling Dixie” after chowing down on “rich” breakfast and lunch dishes like “damn good fried chicken” and “light-as-a-feather” cornmeal waffles at this “gracious” soul food “treasure” in “scruffy” West Oakland; though it’s “a bit pricey”, “hipsters” are still sweet on it, happily enduring “long weekend waits.”

1300 on Fillmore

1300 Fillmore St.; 415-771-7100

Food: 23

Decor: 24

Service: 22

Cost: $47

“West meets South” at this “hot spot” in the Western Addition’s “jazz district”, where an “eclectic” crowd convenes in the “simply cool” lounge sipping “superb cocktails” before moving on to “dressed-up”, “insanely rich” soul food “classics” (“mama never cooked this well”); complete with “on-point” service, it’s particularly “perfect for dinner before going to Yoshi’s” or for the “fabulous gospel brunch” on Sundays.

Chenery Park

683 Chenery St.; 415-337-8537

Food: 22

Decor: 18

Service: 23

Cost: $41

“Striking a perfect balance between elegance and unpretentiousness”, this “family-friendly” “belle” of Glen Park is also getting “discovered by people who aren’t neighbors”; “inviting service” and “cozy” tri-level digs “perfectly complement” the “varied”, “economically” priced American “home cooking” done “with Cajun flair”, making it HQ for everything from “dates and group celebrations” to “kids’ nights” – but those not toting tots should “otherwise steer clear on Tuesdays.”


2295 Broadway, Oakland; 510-834-1000

Food: 21

Decor: 23

Service: 21

Cost: $47

“Soul food” goes “upscale” at this “popular” newcomer, a “nice addition” to the “Oaktown” scene, where a “diverse crowd” digs into “über-cool 21st-century ‘Hotlanta’ cuisine” amid “snazzy” surroundings not far from the Paramount Theatre; there’s also an “encyclopedic bourbon collection” and “welcoming Southern hospitality”, though a few wags warn that this “butterfat and fried-food fest” can get “expensive.”

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